The Peter Principle is a concept inwhich the selection of a candidate for a position is based on their performance in their current role rather than on their abilities relevant to the intended role. The business then of course running the risk of promoting someone until they are in a role in which they under-perform. How do we avoid this?
From an HR perspective, the risk associated with the Peter Principle can be negated simply taking on-board the direction that an employee wishes to take their career, as opposed to promoting a staff member according to the company organisational structure only. Of course this doesn’t mean that we place less importance on the business objectives, because of course these are very important also – What it does mean that we should be using far more foresight when hiring and aiming to align someone’s key professional growth objectives with the organisational goals as much as possible.
When we align an employee’s growth plan with organisational objectives, both parties stand to reap the benefits and in turn minimise risk. The employee is given the opportunity to achieve their professional goals and grow their knowledge and experience in the areas that the business requires that skill/experience which of course limits the likelihood of poor performance.
Recruitment needs to become less reactionary (where possible) and more forward thinking and strategic. In doing so, employees will note that you have their best interests in mind along with other commercial interests, and this in turn – in most cases, will be reciprocated in the form of staff being engaged, driven and committed to achievement, all whilst managing potential future risk.
We recruiters and HR professionals are lucky enough to be able to interview and interact with all levels of professional, which I believe to be one of the most alluring and enjoyable parts of what we do. This also means that depending on your interview questioning, we are made privy almost on a daily basis to information pertaining to the hiring and firing habits of other organisations that many professionals have interviewed at or have been employed by before.
A few days ago I met with a candidate for a position we were looking to fill. We discussed his background, what got him into IT, a little about the role we were looking to fill and then we went on to discuss an experience he had during a recruitment process that resonated with me. I thought I’d share it as I’m curious to know how common it is. He described a scenario where he knew 100% that he was capable of doing everything required in a position he applied for. He ensured he knew as much as possible about the remit of the future successful candidate so as to be sure that he was prepared for the interview. He was so sure of this role being the position he wanted in order to take his career on is ideal career path and was even more convinced that he was more than capable of doing it, even if it was a step up. More-over, when he described the role to me and we discussed his skills, approach, style of working, style of management and stakeholder management ability, I was completely convinced too of his ability to bring great value to the position. He went to the interview, he had a well-structured and strong answer for each of the questions asked and realised that even after a discussion with the team from the prospective employer, he had exactly the right idea of what would have been expected of him. He didn’t get the job. The reason he was given is that he hadn’t been in a role at the same level in the past and therefore it was deemed that he was not the “right fit”.
Frankly, I find it quite worrying when thinking back over discussions with many people over the years, the amount of interviewers/organisations that are scared to make a hire based on the candidate not having had exact experience in a position, instead of going down a line of screening deep enough to find out if someone has all the necessary skills to do it. We work in an age where every organisation wants to use buzzwords of being “evolutionary”, “agile” and “dynamic” to describe themselves but when it comes to their recruitment practises, it seems many are still archaic and not willing to go the extra mile to dig deep and find the true gems of talent that cannot be found by reading interview questions off of a script. The professionals that are going to shape our tomorrow are the professionals that don’t think like the masses of today. How far you are from the outcomes that you are working towards or the goals you are looking to achieve will not change by looking back to the way things have been done before. To quote Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome”.