You have a boss who is brilliant, talented, gracious and empathetic. An out of the box thinker who’s open to your ideas.
In fact, your boss is urging you to take the lead, until it’s time for the final decision.
And then he asks you to please “run it by me.” And those words land on your seasoned ears like nails on a chalkboard – predictably unsettling.
What “run it by me” means when uttered by the non-deciding decider is, please do all the legwork and then present your well-thought out solution to me. I will then mull it over until so much time has passed, it’ll be necessary for you to do all the legwork again.
Along the way you will remind, cajole and urge him to decide. He will politely apologize for neglecting the task and ask you to remind him again “in a few days.”
He doesn’t mean to be difficult. He thinks he’s giving you lots of freedom to figure it all out and come up with new strategies! He imagines himself to be the great emancipator – vowing to take your lead. But in the background, he is a procrastinator at heart. And he doesn’t really trust himself, let alone anyone else.
So, he is left to rely on his own ability to make decisions – which is not much of an ability at all.
What could be more aggravating? You see it happening in real time. How do you stop this crazy cycle of wheel spinning (your) and procrastination (his)?
Coach Me Quick tips for helping the decider, decide:
When you are asked to figure out a solution, ask your boss what his time frame is for making the final decision, and if there’s criteria (that you don’t know about) that needs to be met before he makes the decision. Ask him to let you know how much time he would like you to spend on this project and how often does he want you to check in? Asking for specifics, helps a non-deciding decider become more invested in making a fast decision.
Don’t be so darn efficient! Ask questions along the way and secure buy-in as you move toward your final recommendation. This will make his decision easier, because he will have already thought through many of the variables during the process.
Your job is to do what your boss has asked you to do. If gathering information that results in no action is what he wants you spending time on, do your best and let the result go. Ultimately the buck stops with the boss.
If you are at a level (and you have the relationship) that allows you to point out the pattern to your boss, do so. If you can “speak truth to power,” everyone will benefit if you take advantage of the opportunity.
Deciding to decide in L.A.,
P.S. If you have a difficult conversation coming up, please listen to the podcast I did with Brooke Bailey on how you can create energy by embracing difficult conversations.
Photo by geralt