Posted by:
Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston

January 20, 2015

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Make Up Your Mind

It runs rampant in all types of companies, thwarting the efforts of otherwise diligent workers and halting productivity, sometimes for days. Is this some mutant form of the flu? Or perhaps a computer virus?

Actually, it’s much simpler than that. It’s called…indecision. Whether choosing who to hire, where to have a company event, or how to format a client presentation, no one wants to make a bad choice and have it blow up in her face. Often it seems easier to simply postpone or pass the buck to someone else.

So, where does that leave the rest of us? If you’re in an entry-level position with little authority to make decisions, probably pretty frustrated. Add to that a wishy-washy boss who struggles to make decisions or give clear instructions, and you’ve got a go-getter’s nightmare. Fear not, because we have a few suggestions for getting things done—and keeping your sanity intact.

Make recommendations. If you’re someone who likes to make decisions, then an indecisive environment is an opportunity for you to excel. But don’t let your impatience show or you will annoy your coworkers. Instead, when you approach your boss with a question and you know that she will waffle, have a strong case ready to present. “I really think that vendor B offers a better product because they specialize in X” or “I’m inclined to use this tagline because it’s shorter.” Just be prepared that your boss may not ask for your opinion or may choose the opposite approach.

Create a timeline. Even if it’s not an urgent project, you can nudge things along by saying “I plan to go to print with this on X date. Please have your comments to me before then.” Many people appreciate this because you’re helping them prioritize and giving them enough time to review your document or question. Instead of plopping another item on their desk, which they may interpret as you expecting immediate feedback, you’re giving them the time and space to review on their own.

Build in extra time. If you know you’re working with someone who is slow to make decisions or offer feedback, then plan accordingly. Give them your proposal a little early or create an artificial deadline so that if they miss your deadline, you can still finish on time (just don’t tell them that). The key is to cultivate enough awareness to sense when people need or want you to follow up and when you should allow them to decide on their own.

Positioning yourself as someone who can make decisions and work well with a variety of people will earn you big points when it’s time for a promotion. And doing so will give your boss one less decision to obsess over!