Earlier this month, I presented a Leadership Tip titled Leadership Mistakes Affecting Employee Retention. In it, I focused on the mistake of promoting people who aren’t ready to take on greater responsibility.
In some cases, “not being ready” is about not enough experience or a lack of training. In other cases, it’s about the Peter Principle.
As you may know, the Peter Principle is a management theory formulated by a fellow Canadian, Laurence J. Peter. In its simplest form, the Peter Principle says that “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”
Which means we all have our limitations.
In an organization, we grow our skills and advance by promotion, then grow and advance further again and again. We may even take on an expanded responsibility in another company.
However, at some point, everyone reaches a level of growth and advancement that stops. Why? Because of an inability to perform well at an advanced level. That’s how “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”
Carefully evaluate the pool of candidates in your succession plan by critically reviewing their potential. Avoid the mistake of promoting people to a level they are unable to achieve.
Follow these simple guidelines:
1. Never promote candidates based on their performance in their current roles.
Rather, promote them based on their abilities related to the intended roles.
2. Be crystal clear on the skills required for the intended roles, then train, coach, and mentor the chosen candidates to those skills.
3. Do not allow them to “figure it out” once they get the position, for too much damage will have been done before you can fix this mistake.
4. Be especially mindful of the Peter Principle during your selection process.
When creating your succession plan, remember our friend Peter, who has a way of sneaking up and ruining it!