The Peter Principle & Human Resources

3885 Words16 Pages
Introduction Organisations spend more time on people-related decisions, than anything else. And they should! There are few other decisions so long lasting in their consequences or so difficult to unmake. But, by most accounts, executives still make poor promotion and staffing decisions. According to Drucker, (1985, p. 22) their batting average is no better than .333: at most one-third of such decisions turn out right; one-third are minimally effective; and one-third are outright failures. Unfortunately, the statistics haven’t changed much in twenty years. Dr. John Sullivan (2010, p. 3) supplements this with an additional, rather scary statistic: a bad promotional decision costs 150-300% more than the annual salary of that single employee, for each year they remain with the organisation. According to the Peter Principle, ‘Occupational incompetence is everywhere, (Peter & Hull, 1969, p. 10). Originated by Dr Lawrence J Peter, the rule posits that ‘in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.’ Meaning, it is only when you don’t look so smart that the promotions will end; thus everyone finishes their promotion curve at their point of incompetence. (Richards, 2011) The premise behind the principle is to make us aware of the importance of simple competence—and how elusive it can be. Dr Peter argues that when people do their jobs well, society can't leave well enough alone. We ask for more until we ask too much. Then these individuals—promoted to positions in which they are doomed to fail—start using a multitude of diffusion tactics to mask their incompetence; distracting us from their sub-standard work with giant desks, incomprehensible acronyms, and shifting of blame to create the illusion of progress. (Robert, 2009) According to Wu (2008, p. 2), the whole point of Human Resources (HR) and talent management is to have adequate created

More about The Peter Principle & Human Resources

Open Document