“All public employees should be demoted to their immediately lower level, as they have been promoted until turning incompetent” – José Ortega y GassetAccording to a Gallup study, only 10% of managers have what it takes to be a “great manager.”Great managers possess a rare combination of five talents:

  1. Motivator – They motivate their employees;
  2. Assertiveness – They assert themselves to overcome obstacles;
  3. Accountability – They create a culture of accountability;
  4. Relationships – They build trusting relationships; and
  5. Decision-Making – They make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company.

The study also revealed that about one in 10 people possess high talent to manage. This is not to say that the other 9 do not possess the necessary traits. However the other 9 do not have the unique combination of traits, described above, which are able to lead a team and organisation to achieve excellence.If this is the reality, then we raise the following question: Why are so many employees simply promoted to managerial roles?

The Peter Principle states that people are often are promoted based on their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus “managers rise to the level of their incompetence”. People are promoted as it is the obvious next step, and good potential managers in lower levels are ignored as they would disrupt the prescribed organisational hierarchy.We suggest two solutions to this problem:

  1. Assess for a management role as you would any other role – potential managerial candidates should have to go through the same process as any other potential employee (psychometric assessments, interviews). If management potential is identified, move on to solution 2. If management potential is lacking, provide alternative career progressions, such as a non-management path.
  2. Make a Leadership/Managerial Development Programme mandatory – when potential is identified, apply mandatory training. If at the end of the training there is no clear managerial skill, then once again provide alternative career progressions.

By not addressing the Peter Principle outlined above, an organisation runs the risk of falling into a cycle of mediocracy.Sources:Beck, R., & Harter, J. (2015). Managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement. Retrieved from http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/182792/managers-account-variance-employee-engagement.aspxGallup. (2015). State of the American manager: Analytics and advice for leaders.Lazear, E.P. (2000). The Peter Principle: Promotions and Declining Productivity. Hoover Institution and Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.Schiller, B. (2015). This may not surprise you: Only 10% of managers have what it takes to be managers. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3044630/this-may-not-surprise-you-only-10-of-managers-have-what-it-takes-to-be-managers?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_pulse_read%3BauEoM7lcRcidF5ARkUZ9yA%3D%3DTaylor, H. (2015). 20 things managers should never do in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20-things-managers-should-never-do-workplace-heather-taylor/

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