COMMENTARY 771.4: The Responsibility to Decide

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.

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