My boss seems to be incapable of making a decision as well as delegating any work. Does anybody have any recommendations for how to deal with him?

My boss is known in my department as Mr Black Hole XXX. Whenever you go to him he says "let me think about that" and never gets back to you. If you talk to him about an initiative he usually asumes ownerships over the item and you'll never hear about it again.

A few examples: In the beginning of 2009 I put in a training request. With 30-60 employees, some permanent and some working only a few weeks I'd like to standardise some things we do but lack the know how on how to properly assemble information, put it in writing and implement systems to make sure that it is followed and improved. My boss said he had some questions of clarification that he needed to get answered. I've been asking him about them once a month since and always get a vague "soon".

A few months ago I discovered that our contracts are likely to violate several employment laws. I went to my boss with this, he expliciltly forbid me to do anything in regards to this and asked me to proceed - business as usual. He'd look into it. Since then I haven't received any news about the issue.

My boss is responsible for our database. I am depending on data from it to evaluate the work of the entire unit as well as individual employees. I've requested training on how to use the database, get the same vague "soon" same goes for request for specific data.

The only bigger decision regarding my work he has ever made was when he explicitly forbid me to work from home one day a week which I did under my former manager. This forces me to run around the office trying to find silent places (usually ending up in a storage space) since this is my telephone conference day and our open office environment is everything but telephone conference friendly.

I am more and more regularly finding myself trying to submit as little information as possible, thinking that I need to keep my boss in the dark to get stuff done and finding ways to exploit the system and work around my boss.

The situation is driving me nuts (high D - "resultsoriented") and had I been working for any other organisation I'd probably be gone. However, careerwise I am exactly where I've been dreaming about being since I was a kid so I'd rather find ways to improve the situation and get answers and decisions out of him instead.


Any advice is more than welcome.

DPWade's picture

Had a similar situation, my results were different.  I ended up canned because (real reason)= he could not manage me, (visible reason)= he could not  get, and I would not allow "his" results from my efforts.

Tread carefully, look for signs that he has no acceptable answers/solutions, when you in fact do, which validates he is above his Peter Principle threshold.  That puts his power in jeopardy and he will win (at your expense short or long term) even when it makes no sense business-wise.


Peter.westley's picture
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This sounds like a problem for podcast: "bad boss: uncommunicative boss" - M&M have promised this at some stage and we're waiting patiently ... ;-)

If as you say your DISC behavioural style is high D and his is high S then in some ways you are natural opposites in your preferred or accepted styles. Be aware of this and work towards understanding (and providing for) his needs as a high S and tempering your needs as a high D.

Here's how:

Like a high C, the high S tends to exhibit the ready, aim , aim, aim behaviour. If you need action or decision on something, try providing much more information and supporting data than you would normally require to make a decision yourself.

Approach with, "I know you said you'd take care of this but I've been doing some more investigation, here's the data I have." Offer to talk it through with him. Then if there's still pushback or hesitation, take the time to listen and understand what his objections are. Go with the intent of "how can I help you make this decision?" but do not be forceful.

See him more as a balancing force against your high D, use this more measured, considered approach to your (and the company's) advantage.

It'll be hard work and probably frustrating for you but spending the time to listen and discuss will get you a long way.

-- Peter

DISC: 2564

chrisakin's picture

I'm very interested on how you handle bosses like this...  thanks!

timrutter's picture

I'm that guy (figuratively)

Offer to help take load off him, follow up on requests and let it go when he doesn't produce.

The golden tip is that is he is well intentioned, he'll love you for it. If he's not, then your notebook/diary may come in to play - document!


Nil Desperandum Experto Crede

chrisakin's picture

 Thanks, Tim.  Always good to have additional insight!