Friday, June 13, 2014

Is the "Peter Principle" at Work in Your Business

Is the Peter Principle alive and active in your business? According to Investopedia, the principle described by Dr. Laurence J. Peter in 1968 states, “a promotion to the higher-ranking job position may not necessarily reveal the employee's incompetence, but rather the new position may require different skills the employee does not possess.

Have you ever worked with a manager who knew the business aspects of his job inside and out but still was unable to effectively manage the people under him? We all have. It's frustrating and discouraging, and it's counterproductive for the company. It fosters a lack of trust in his subordinates and depletes employee morale. The staff remain in survival mode and cannot work creatively.

Several types of managerial styles beg for correction. Let's explore a few and do some problem-solving.

I'm right and you're wrong, so just be quiet and do what I tell you. What could cause this attitude? It could be coming from a fear of failure. Chances are good that this manager has quite a bit of self-doubt and is afraid to admit it. He wants to look good for the boss, but thinks the way to do that is to belittle and coerce his subordinates into blind obedience.

What can he do to improve his work interactions? It sounds simple, but can be tough. He can’t obtain success without the cooperation of his subordinates, whether in a project or in the general atmosphere of the business. He has to admit he needs their help. And he will have to admit it not only to himself, but to his staff. Subordinates really do respond to this as long as it is a sincere request. If it is done to manipulate, any improvement will be short-lived.

Can't we just all get along? This attitude could be fueled by fear of conflict. This type of manager avoids confronting people who perform poorly. He thinks he is keeping the workplace peaceful, but he actually is adding to the frustration of workers who need his guidance.

The fix? Be truthful about performance. If someone makes a mistake, use it as a teaching moment. Don't judge the employee, but show him how to do better. Managers also need to be teachers.

If you put one hairy toe across this line, I will write you up. Some managers always seem to use punishment instead of reward to control subordinates. There is no balance. This attitude causes a lot of resentment. The employees are so busy looking over their shoulders that performance suffers and the workplace is disrupted even further. They often can’t even summon the energy to care about what happens in the department. Their emotional reserves are depleted. Physical reserves can soon follow.

What should this type of manager do? Start by soliciting employee input to set clear goals and help the workers decide how best to reach them. Front-line people can be amazingly creative if they believe they have free and open communication. Offer some type of reward system for great ideas.

It all boils down to managing versus manipulating and pressure versus persuasion. Even if these "people skills" are lacking, they can still be taught. Successful, caring management skills help develop effective and motivated employees and a thriving businesses.

Do you have a manager in your organization that needs help or that you have helped? Please share your advice.

If you have a comment or question I would be happy to discuss. Read more on my blog

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