PD Strategies Blog



Every day well deserving individual performers are promoted to supervisor. Are they prepared or have they been set up to fail?

Many have remembered the book The Peter Principle which postulates that a person continues to get promoted until they get to their level of incompetence. I have had enough experience to know that it does happen. Companies make a flawed assumption that because the employee was a great individual performer in the previous job that he or she will adapt and become a leader of the team. Inevitably, according to the Peter Principle, the person ends up being promoted to a job where they are no longer competent. This is referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching his or her career's ceiling in an organization.

This is more common people given challenging assignments as they move up the corporate ladder. But not all can be attributed to the level of incompetence. Many failures can be avoided by proper preparation of the candidate for the new assignment. It can be found in the selection and promotion of managers. Consider this example. John is a very highly performing accountant. He meets deadlines and delivers good and accurate reports for management. He is the right-hand person to the accounting manager. One day the accounting manager leaves the company for another job and management decides to promote John to the accounting manager position. Here are two questions.

  • What duties was John paid to do as an accountant?
  • What duties is John now paid to do as accounting manager?

Has John been prepared? If the answer then John is being set up to fail. The skills that John used to perform as an accountant are different than those needed in his new role as manager.

This skill curve below illustrates this point.


As we can see here, to be effective as an individual performer you must utilize about 90% technical expertise with only 10% people skills.

However, at the next level in the organizational structure, the supervisory level, the curve makes its most dramatic shift, and the necessary knowledge and skills you now need to be effective on the job is about half and half. You still need a great deal of job knowledge—to train, to substitute, etc.; but, now your Number 1 responsibility is developing other people—to develop other high performing workers, to teach, to lead, and to manage.

Then, as you can see from the shift in the upper levels, the higher you go in the corporate ladder, the less you need technical skills, and the more you need good, effective management and human relations skills. At the management levels, more behavioral and management skills are required for your success.

Are you promoting and hoping for success? What do you need to do differently?

Are you ready to prepare your people for their leadership roles?

Contact us to learn more

Armonk NY call 914-953-4458.

South Florida call 772-342-1066.



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Thursday, 07 December 2023

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