[FOUNTAIN]Hierarchial incompetence?There is an old saying that the position in which an individual is seated makes the person. Unless the person’s skill level is very low, most people are capable of a position when they receive it.
However, if a person is placed in a position that is far beyond his ability level, it becomes a totally different story. That person will have a hard time trying to handle a position that is far beyond his capability, and other employees may have to struggle to tolerate the misery of the mismatch.
Of course, the organization that seated the incapable person in the first place should pay for the inefficiency of its mistake. There are rumors during the season of promotions that incapable people are always on the list to be promoted. Why is this the case?
Laurence Peter discovered that the promotion of incapable people in a hierarchial society is very common. He came to this conclusion after researching hundreds of cases since 1969. “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence,” he said. This is the Peter Principle.
According to this principle, each employee in a hierarchy keeps rising to a higher position until he reaches the final level of incompetence. An employee who has been promoted to a level beyond his ability senses by instinct that it will be his last position.
However, he never admits this fact or relinquishes the position voluntarily. Instead, he tries various things to cover up his incompetence. The common symptoms of this coverup are many. He may include paper phobia, evidenced by cleaning one’s desk compulsively; piling up stacks of documents to give the impression of busy-ness; long, meaningless conversations; endless walking around; phone addiction and table addiction, where every outcome has to be shown visibly.
The government is now showing how the Peter Principle can be applied in the real world.
Placing incompetent individuals in high positions validates the Peter Principle. Transferring already incompetent individuals to other high positions is a creative variation of the Peter Principle.
These transfers are typical symptoms of government failure and denial, of not admitting mistakes, of blaming others for wrongdoing and of being driven to only promote policies.
There are rumors that the government is going to fill jobs in foreign affairs and security departments with people who have the same code.
We hope they will look at ability. And we hope they keep in mind the Peter Principle.
by Kim Jong-soo
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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