Moving Up, the Peter Principle, and Job Mastery

Sterling Whitehead just wrote a great blog post on not being too eager to move up in your career. He encourages us to enjoy where you are and be in the present in our current positions. This is an interesting topic.

In my opinion, there are three factors that immediately come to mind on this issue.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he proposes that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice are required to obtain mastery of any activity. At 40 hours a week, that takes you to about 5 years to mastery your job. This gives a good reason to take your time learning where you are. Of course, to move up, you don’t have to master every position along the way. Being proficient will usually be good enough.

The Peter Principle states that everyone rises to their level of incompetence in an organization. Another way of saying that is that everyone keeps getting promoted until they stop being awesome at their job. As such, they are one position above where they could most benefit the organization. That’s definitely a compelling reason to not be eager to move up.

But here’s the other side of the coin. The impending demographic tsunami of retirement-eligible senior employees will create a vacuum to be filled with younger workers that most likely will not be prepared for the opportunity. All too often, these experienced veterans do not pass on their knowledge and expertise due to personal, cultural, or organizational reasons. It would seem that at least a select few junior workers should be pushing to gain skills and knowledge to adequately fill these positions (which could become available at any time). To help them, organizations should put more effort into retaining this knowledge and facilitating its transfer. That way the pressure isn’t all on the up-and-coming employees to hop into leadership roles and produce results without being prepared.

The other option is to restructure the organization so that less hierarchy is needed to support it. Being more horizontally oriented could prevent, or minimize the number of people setting up to higher positions without being ready for them.

[This post was originally featured in the monthly Rogue Polymath Newsletter.]

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Drains and Radiators

I’m not huge fan of Oprah, and would never consider her an authority on plumbing components. Still, I was recently inspired something she said. She expressed regret
over not realizing earlier in life to separate the drains from the radiators.

Drains are people who only take from you. They do this by always being negative, critical, and judgmental. You don’t measure up to them, and never will. They’re unhappy with their own problems and insecurities, but rather than deal with them – they’d rather take it out on you.

Radiators are different. They radiate warmth. They give back to those around them. Their energy is infectious and they are more than happy to share it with everyone.
They’re comforting to those close to them.

Driving change is hard enough without the added challenge of motivation-sucking drains. Life is too short to be controlled by drains, focus on the radiators in your life.
Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you share your wins with those people who will give you encouragement back in return
  • Don’t get sidetracked into arguments with a “drain.” You won’t ever win. You will almost always come away with lower energy and enthusiasm without much to show for it.
  • Take care to be a radiator to others around you. Catch yourself if you find that you are acting like a drain. One could be the one individual that makes the difference between someone else pushing change forward or giving up in discouragement.

Good luck driving change!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Drive Out Fear

Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company” – W. Edward Deming statistician and quality expert

Deming firmly believed that fear was a huge obstacle to creating positive change inside of organizations. So much so that the above quote represents #8 in his 14 principles of a System of Profound Knowledge. He also said, “Whenever there is fear, you will get wrong figures.” People won’t tell you the truth if they are afraid.

Fear can be a tactic of someone trying to drive people to change and while Machiavelli thought it was better to be feared than to be loved, it won’t improve your organization’s performance in the 21st century.

Recently I’ve found a similar believe in an article from AMEX Openforum. In this interview with Tom Rieger of Gallup, he talks about where
fear comes from and how leaders can provide work environments to minimize it. Enjoy reading it.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)