The Peter Principle – Competence vs Incompetence

Christaller's third model of distribution of c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Peter Principle is based on the theory that employees will be promoted to their highest level of competence over time and will eventually hit a level where they will not be able to perform competently. That is the level of their incompetence. The problem with this level is it will be difficult to backtrack them into the previous position which has already been filled. So the organisation gets stuck with employees who may not be suited for their position. If the organisation allows incompetence to stay, it will stagnate and may die over time as competent, more capable employees get denied positions and leave for better prospects.

It takes good management and discernment to ensure that the reason for promotion is not just because the performance at the current level is excellent, thereby qualifying one for the next. The executive set up for consideration has to be able to take up a higher level post competently. If that fails, the management team responsible for that promotion should take a hard look at its promotional criteria.


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