The Peter Principle; we’ve all experienced this phenomenon and its associated agony and frustration, be it from our superiors, colleagues or dare I say recognise it in ourselves. <The latter takes some true introspection and honesty.>
A hierarchal concept first espoused by Prof. Laurence J Peter in his same named book in 1968, the nut shell brief is; “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence … in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties … Work (actual productive work) is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”
Peter Principle As Blessing
The Peter Principle can be a blessing in the form of presenting new challenges and opportunity for which most of us strive. Sir Richard Branson professes, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes and then learn how to do it later.” I’ve experienced this many times throughout my career and approached each as a gift, one which takes acknowledgement, dedication, determination and self-discipline to turn into an real opportunity and push out our barriers of knowledge and skill, the drive and confidence (not conceit) to develop and master the previously deficient or absent abilities.
Peter Principle as Blight
However, the Peter Principle can also be blight. When a person (or organisation) doesn’t recognise the gaps and take steps to overcome them, an opportunity is missed and failure is hovering. In our experience and observation this happens to all people and organisations at one time or another. The successful ones overcome, the failures become the proverbial ostrich with heads lodged firmly in the sand. There seems to be a higher occurrence of this circumstance among small to medium organizations that experience rapid growth and a person’s ‘loyalty or tenure’ is the main selection criteria for advancement into expansion voids.
The advice for this edition of Professional Journey Steps:
Live up to the oft used (and often unimplemented) organisational value of People are our greatest asset and recognise and put great energy into your greatest assets’ development through support and mentorship. It’ll be your greatest investment toward your success.
Additionally, as an individual, take it upon yourself to be the driver of your own destiny and seek out any and all prospects for personal development. Many organisations, associations, even this web site provide these golden opportunities, take advantage of them. As the saying goes; you can lead a horse to water… but you can’t make it think <or act>.
As always, if we can provide you some help and guidance in our areas of expertise, please reach out – our purpose is to help you, it’s what we do and why we exist.
Enjoy the journey.