(or “managing up”) is a really important skill. We’re all in submissive relationships; whether being pulled over by a cop, a wife with a husband, an employee with an employer, a volunteer and a leader.
One of the hardest aspects of needing to submit to another person is their indecisiveness. You’re waiting on their go-ahead, or their decision, or their permission. Added to this is the moral minefield for Christians who don’t want to grumble or assume inappropriate authority. So here’s some keys.
- Make it clear that you want/need a decision from them. Most of the time, managers assume that their directs don’t need direction. Go and tell them what things you think are their responsibility. You might find that they are happy for you to make those calls. And that’s the decisiveness you need first… clarity on who’s making what calls.
- If your leader does need to make the decision, remind them that you’re happy to do things their way. This is important because if it is their decision, then it’s their responsibility – not yours.
- Present them with options and solutions, but don’t hesitate to tell them which one you think is best. Be careful not to personalise your favourite. Remember step 2… it’s their decision, and you’re simply helping them to make it.
- If there’s still indecisiveness politely tell them what you think the result will be if you don’t get a decision. e.g. “I’m happy for you to leave this on the back burner, but I just thought I’d let you know that deadline x is approaching. If you still wanted it, I’ll need X”
- Don’t sweat it, if they’ve said it’s up to them.
Here’s some examples:
“Boss, how about we do A, B, C?”
“Would you like me to start that, or do you want to get someone else to take it on?”
“Give me a few days to decide”
“Boss, what did you end up doing with that plan to do A, B, C?”
“Yeah, I thought it was a good idea.”
“You said you were going to assign someone to start it, if you haven’t done that, I was thinking maybe Larry would be a good choice.”
“Yeah, he would”
“Well, just so you know, the deadline is in X weeks, so if Larry doesn’t start this week, it won’t happen. Are you still sure you like the plan enough to get Larry to drop E, F, G to do it?”
Polite, helpful, unemotional, and pushing for decisions.