Posted by: healingtheworkplace | June 11, 2009

The Peter Principle Is Alive And Well 40 Years Later!

Hello again!

Did you know that the Peter Principle was written in 1969 by Dr. Lawrence J. Peter This is important because the Peter Principle is alive and well today. How many of you know managers, leaders or supervisors who are incompetent and who create stress and misery in their workplaces?

You may be witnessing the Peter Principle in action!

Here is Dr. Peter’s original definition of the Peter Principle:

“In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.”

This often  happens when people are promoted into positions that require skills and knowledge that they do not have.

These people were probably very good at what they were doing when they got promoted.

Consider the excellent health care clinician who is promoted into to management position that s/he is not prepared for, or the construction worker who is given the responsibility of supervising other workers and doesn’t know what to do.

What to do if this happens to you?

1.  If you are an employee who is unlucky enough to have an incompetent manager or supervisor…there may not be much you can do other than to look after yourself.

Start by finding ways to manage your stress and then update your resume!

2.  If you are a manager or supervisor who has been promoted and you are aware that you lack the necessary skills to do a good job…you can do something about it. 

If your employer doesn’t offer leadership training there are numerous places in the community where you can go to learn these skills. Some courses are expensive but  many are not.

School boards and colleges provides courses and there are opportunities to learn leadership skills by doing service work with the Lions Clubs International or the Rotary.

But you must “bite the bullet” and admit (at least to yourself) that you need to do something.

If you don’t you will become increasingly stressed and this will not be healthy for you or the people you work with.

Manage yourself! Become a better Manager!




  1. Take charge of your weaknesses to do a better job. That is great advice. As a complement, we recently wrote a piece where we discuss the importance of recognizing your career stall points to keep on growing professionally. I hope it helps. – Erich

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