Promoted to the Level of Incompetence | Inside Employees’ Minds | Big Think
The issue, says behaviorial economist Dan Ariely, is two-fold: first, promotions are often rewarded based exclusively on the results an individual achieves – or seems to achieve – without taking into consideration the myriad factors over which he or she had no control. It’s a myopic way of measuring performance, and it leads to the promotion of the luckiest over the best and brightest and most dedicated.
“Imagine you were in charge… [of a] seafood restaurant and you decided to open a new restaurant in the gulf” – a week before the BP oil spill, he says. “Would you get promoted after that? You just opened your restaurant, you spent a lot of money, all the seafood supply is dissolved and there’s no more tourists.” You might have been the most careful, wonderful employee, but ultimately, your actions, “from the outcome perspective, [were] awful.”The second problem with this scheme is the assumption that if a person really excels in his or her role, he or she should be handed more and more responsibility – creating an endless chain of advancement that is not necessarily effective or even beneficial for the employer or the employee. The Peter Principle is a satirical-yet-poignant comment on the tendency of hierarchical organizations to repeat what works over and over again ad nauseum, until finally it falls apart. (Think The Fast and the Furious V).