The Peter Principle [FP]

The Peter Principle – Fundamental Principle 3

The Peter Principle: in a hierarchical organization, people will be promoted to their level of incompetence.

Included (by inference or experience) in this principle are some of the following components:

  • Earlier promotions were actually based upon competence.  In other words, they were indeed earned;
  • Peter’s Corollary: in theory, eventually every position will be occupied by an employee incompetent to carry out its duties;
  • “Managing Up” is the typical response of lower level (competent) employees to “manage” their superiors (and work) in order to limit the damage done to the organization (and the subordinates!  It could be seen as a survival response to limit the effects of Peter’s Corollary, above);
  • Competent People Managers promote the employee for the betterment of the organization;
  • Incompetent People Managers will most likely feel intimidated and/or threatened by the employee and overlook them.  (Either they fail to identify them, or secretly identify them, ignore them, fail to mentor them, or work to block them and/or set them up for failure);
  • The First Commandment of a hierarchical organization with incompetent leadership is to preserve the hierarchy;
  • Approaches as solutions (cures) have been proposed:
    • (US Military) “Up or Out;”
    • Demonstrate the necessary (measurable) skills, which are typically discovered through training. (This is close to prevention, but not if the employee has mastered the art of obfuscation);
    • Preventative techniques or measures seem to be in limited supply.

Further worthy information can be found by Googling “Peter Principle”or in the book itself (a really great read), The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, Lawrence Peters and Raymond Hull.

(Comments I couldn’t resist adding to the plain vanilla description are indicated in italics)


About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
This entry was posted in 03: The Peter Principle, The Fundamental Principles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Peter Principle [FP]

  1. Pingback: Value Added, A Definition [FP] | Road Signs and Blind Spots

  2. Pingback: The Peter Principle II | Road Signs and Blind Spots

  3. Pingback: The Peter Principle – In Action | Road Signs and Blind Spots

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