Whose fault is the Peter Principle?

The Peter Principle is the principle that “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”. In other words, we tend to promote people beyond their abilities.

Now the big question is, whose fault is the Peter Principle and do we “punish” the wrong people for it?

I was speaking with a client yesterday about their HR issues and this client mentioned two employees promoted in the past year who are “failing” in their new roles. The question the client had was “how long should we hope they turn things around before we fire them?” These two employees have received some training for their new positions and it’s not a question of attitude or work ethic. The problem is, they are in roles they are currently incapable of performing adequately..

Whether the answer is today, tomorrow or next year, chances are these employees will be removed from their position. However, the question is, what to do with them and whose fault is it?

Normally, the question of fault shouldn’t matter, instead, you look at the problem, figure out a solution and then fix it. However, in this case, I believe it does matter because in both cases, these people did not ask to be promoted. They were promoted because an opening suddenly came open, they were doing their jobs well at the time and out of necessity, they were promoted to help the organization out. Were they really at fault for not being able to do a job they were unqualified for? Should they be fired for being willing to help out when needed?

There is no question they need to be removed from their current position but the question is, since they did nothing wrong and have shown great loyalty to the organization should an attempt be made to find new positions they are better qualified for?

Allowing people to stay in positions they aren’t capable of doing well at isn’t fair to the organization or to these people. However, when possible, rather than simply looking to fire them, if they have shown loyalty to the organization and if they have the proper attitudes, see if there is a way to use them in a different capacity.

Allowing the Peter Principle to stifle your organization will destroy your organization however that doesn’t mean you should automatically lose what previously were effective and loyal employees

Just something to think about

Have a great day!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *