Does your organisation suffer due to “The Peter Principle”..

How many times do you hear people say “My boss is a Muppet !”… “My Boss hasn’t a clue”..  “I have no idea what they were smoking when they promoted him to Manager” etc…

These are often very true statements but it’s not necessarily always the fault of your boss !… It could all be down to the “Peter Principle” and this is borne out by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull who back in 1969 explained how within certain (and a lot of) organisations, people get promoted because they are extremely competent at their current job and progress through the organisation until such time as they eventually end up in a role where they are not experienced and to a point where they are “incompetent”..  They achieve what the authors refer to as “their level of incompetence”!..  Success eventually leads to failure..  

Ok, I’m sure there’s no need to explain the above any further as most people can relate to it… so, the real question is, what should be done about it IF organisations are open to accepting their mistake and wish to address the issue for the greater good and well-being of the Company, the individual and their colleagues..

Answer = “Pony up” and take it on the nose !….

Positives – you pushed far enough to find the individuals tipping point; stretched the resource to their absolute boundaries; established the line where they should in fact pitch their tent… Well done as you now know where the individual can contribute most effectively to your business…

Negatives – not accepting the mistake that the organisation has made; doing nothing about it and it will absolutely result in an unhappy employee… unhappy team… unhappy workplace… and more incompetence..

So, what must a business do to resolve such issues….

–          Recognise that just because somebody is exceptional in a particular role, they may not be the most suitably qualified for another more senior role with different responsibilities…

–          Accept that you must reward an individual from a monetary perspective based on their value to the organisation without the absolutely need to ‘promote’ them into a role that they are not suited

–          Do a proper assessment of their competencies before moving them into a new role; provide training/mentoring for them to help them succeed but most importantly, provide them (and you) with a safety net whereby they can revert to their previous role if the pre-determined and agreed success criteria isn’t achieved with a specific timeframe… i.e. allow them to go back to their “old job” if it isn’t working out !.. Ego & Pride may take a hit, but it’s for the greater good overall and wow, it’s a pretty good motivator to keep pushing those who have more in the tank and haven’t yet reached their level of incompetence… but will eventually get there !.

So – find your tipping point… pitch your tent… be content & be happy !…

Ed. Coonan – Managing Partner,

Casseo Ltd

Building Partnerships, Building Business

  • Share