Monday, April 28, 2008

The Peter Principle

I am currently reading Stephen Covey's 'The Speed of Trust', and though some of the principles and ideas that he propounds in this book are rather common-sensical, one thing that really sticks out to me is this idea of the the Peter Principle. In short the basic premise of this principle is that at times, people do get promoted to a state of incompetence! An oxymoronic principle don't you think? In fact, just like you, that was my first initial reaction when I came across it. But upon reading further, and delving further in to Stephen's reasoning, I do foresee some similarities of such a principle in my life, not that it is in a detrimental state or anything.

The basic idea is this: Let's say that a particular person, a Mr X has been particularly good at doing the operational matters in a certain organisation, hmmm and has been in fact an outstanding member and an excellent one at it! When the time comes for a promotion to a higher, more management-oriented position, guess who is the first to be promoted, the Mr X himself. Now in this new position, Mr X might be faced with an array of job specifications that would require him to do lesser of things that he WAS good in, and more of the things that he is NOT trained, or readied for! Since this new promoted position requires him to either learn a new set of skills, and to a certain or large extent, gives him a reduced opportunity to do the things that he was originally good at, what would you think would happen to him. Well the Peter Principle states that at times, Mr X, instead of becoming better at his new job, would in fact be at a state of incompetence, due to his inability to handle and cope with the rigours and demands of the new 'promoted' post! So there you see, there is a logical view to this oxymoronic statement.

Now, I do wonder at times, is this really happening to me? Hmmmm, sometimes I do feel it, but then again, at times, I do feel there is just this need to test and know your limits. And mind you, sometimes the Peter Principle occurs not because there is an inherent flaw in the promoted person's attitude, but I do think, more often than not, this is surely due to the mismatch of skills and expectations that the promotion entails.

But hey, this is the cynic in me blogging...

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