Last month I was conducting leadership training for a group of construction supervisors. One of the participants receives my weekly leadership tip and indicated he’d be interested to get my perspective on the Peter Principle in one of my tips … well here you go MS.
As you know, the Peter Principle is a management theory formulated by fellow Canadian, Laurence J. Peter. In its simplest form, the Peter Principle is ‘managers rise to the level of their incompetence.’
Which means we all have our limitations.
In an organization, we grow then we advance by promotion. Then we grow and advance further in the organization. Then again … and again. We may even take on a greater responsibility in another company.
However, at some point we reach a level where growth and advancement cease because of our inability to properly perform at that level. Hence, ‘managers rise to the level of their incompetence.’
My leadership tip for you this week is to carefully evaluate the pool of candidates in your succession plan by critically reviewing their potential. Avoid the mistake of promoting someone to a level they are unable to deliver on.
Follow these simple guidelines:
1. Never promote a candidate based on their performance in their current role. Promote the candidate based on their abilities relevant to the intended role.
2. Be crystal clear on the skills required in the intended role. Train, coach, and mentor the candidate to the skills required in the intended role.
3. Do not let them ‘figure it out’ once they get the position, as too much damage will have been done before you ‘fix it.’
4. Be mindful of the Peter Principle during the selection process.
Succession planning is important for all organizations. When you create yours, remember our friend Peter, as he has a way of sneaking up and ruining your plan.