“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
The Peter principle by Laurence J. Peter
I’ve been recently fascinated by Laurence J. Peter and his assertions on how hierarchy structures, or ‘hierarchiology’, can cause long term damage and stagnation. The Peter principle basically asserts that job competence will spiral upwards with staff earning promotions until increased seniority crashes headlong into inability. If the promoted person lacks the skills required for their promotion, they will be incompetent at their new job level and therefore won’t be promoted again. However, if they are competent at their new role, then they will be promoted again, and they will continue their ascent until they eventually reach a level of incompetence. It feels tongue-in-cheek in a way, but how many of us know, or are part of, that type of structure already!
We started to look at our own business and what we might be able to do to help and we realised that most of our outward communications are contingent on your team being fundamentally competent, happy and functional, when the reality is that like it or not, many teams are actually the complete opposite.
Managing staff and careers and teams is tough, right? People have professional and personal struggles that, as their line manager, become your look-out. They have strengths and weaknesses, they have ambitions, agendas and egos out of step with everyone else and what they are being asked to do, and unfortunately, they can sometimes just be downright annoying and completely in it for themselves.
As a manager, carrying the albatross and looking after all that stuff is tough on a resource level, a political level and an emotional level, especially in a high powered and stress addled environment in sectors where you live and die by ‘results’. Plus you have to factor in the human condition – we can’t help but like some people more than others, even though there should of course be absolute parity across all your reporting lines.
If we are talking about you, then get some help!
Us lot at Withinnovation are experienced with working with good teams and bad teams, unhappy teams who make money, great teams that don’t. We don’t judge; we are comfortable with your dysfunction and will work with you to help eradicate it. Some groups may need more than team bonding, and in fact may need reminding of their common business objectives and some old fashioned re-structuring. We work with some absolutely brilliant facilitators who command respect at the highest board room level and if you want to confide in us, please get in touch, and we can help you…. firstname.lastname@example.org
“I am a good sergeant; I might easily make a bad captain, and certainly an even worse general.”
Werner – Minna von Barnhelm by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing