COMMENTARY 939.1: Being Decisive

Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it.

Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, and Pat quits. Frank feels victimized, but he has no one to blame but himself.

A frequent workplace complaint is waiting for the boss to make a decision or take needed action. It might be about a pending promotion, filling an open position, giving an overdue performance review, pricing a new product, or dealing with a customer complaint. Whatever the issue, failure to make a decision can make big problems out of little ones. What’s more, indecisiveness generates resentment and undermines confidence in the manager’s ability.

It was Frank’s responsibility to set the tone of the work environment. In management (or parenting, for that matter), what you allow, you encourage. As Frank learned the hard way, indecision and inaction can cause as much harm as a poor decision.

Sure, it’s important to be careful, and it’s sometimes wise to put off a decision or delay action (to get more information, to get buy-in, to let things cool off, etc.). But failing to make a needed decision is not acceptable just to avoid an unpleasant confrontation or because one is too busy, is procrastinating, or hopes things will work themselves out.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 2

  1. Brenda

    In this scenario, I was Pat. I felt the organization was being tolerant of the intolerable, overlooking the obvious, and not able to make the right decisions at the right time.

  2. Ken

    This is the perfect example of where I’m employed. The executives wait for middle management to recommend ideas; middle management is waiting for first-line supervisors to bring ideas to them; and guess what? The people doing the job are waiting, and waiting, and waiting. However, there is more to the story. Supervisors are waiting for middle-management; middle-management is waiting for executives to tell them what to do.
    The result is a slow moving organization that has all the necessary tools and people with concepts, but no movement.

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