The Peter Principle Strikes Again ( and Again and Again)

Bob and Peter are uniquely famous names in their own right.

Now let’s take Bob. I don’t have an Uncle Bob, but some do. But it doesn’t matter if you have an Uncle Bob or not, lots of folks can be heard saying, “Bob’s Your Uncle”. (First time I heard it, I said, “No, actually Bill is my uncle.) Be it as it may, to my understanding it sort of refers to “everything is alright.”

Now let’s take Peter. Have you heard of The Peter Principle? The Peter Principle is named after a chap, Laurence Peter, who observed in the hierarchy of organisations that individuals continue to be promoted until they reach their level of incompetency. To my understanding this largely refers more to managerial incompetency than technical incompetency.

Are you familiar with anyone that is a victim of The Peter Principle? (Am I hearing someone say “Yes”?)

Have you heard someone say that so in so is not a good manager, or that he/she is not a leader?

We may have all heard it, seen it, and know that The Peter Principle is alive and active out there.

But are those employees that are victims of The Peter Principle largely at fault for the organisations oversight of promoting them to their level of incompetence? In my opinion, probably not.

Let’s take an example that I see quite frequently.

In any given organisation there are sales/business development teams whose size may grow following continued success or a strategy of putting more “feet on the street.” Over time as that team grows they will need a Sales Manager to lead a number of direct reports. Invariably the Sales Rep that is billing the most will get the first shot at that new role. And why not? He/she has possibly gone from cold calling, to sales generation to account management and done everything handily. Logically they are also going to be a good leader. Right? Wrong!

G’day Peter……

Now we what we often have on our hands is the new Sales Manager who is a focussed, tactical, outcome orientated, driven individual that has had no prior leadership training and is unclear on creating a values based team. This scenario results in staff turnover because employees often leave because of poor management and recruitment costs blow out in a tough market.

Ouch! Bob’s Not Your Uncle in this instance.

In this instance, and in a number of other similar scenarios around Australia, the employee was set up to be a Peter Principle causality when the right leadership development could have been put in place to minimise the carnage.

Watch out for The Peter Principle and put the necessary development in place or you will end Paying the Pied Piper in a big way.

2018-11-12T02:13:06+00:00November 12th, 2018|Tags: , , |