A Lot of Failed Restaurants Were Opened By Great Cooks

by | Individual Development, Onboarding, Resources

We sometimes forget this distinction… being a great cook does not mean you know how to manage a restaurant. The skills needed in these two positions are very different. Most of us are naturally good at doing specific things. But at the same time, most of us do not adapt well to new job responsibilities that are not in our wheelhouse. Sure we might squeak by, but we’ll probably be stressed by the effort it would require. Yet employers regularly promote their employees to positions of greater responsibility only to subsequently watch some stumble.

If you are as old as me, you probably know this as “The Peter Principal” – when an employee is moved up in an organization because of their effectiveness in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer effective – coined by Lawrence Peter as their “Level of Incompetence”.  The reactive solution would be for that employee to back down one level to what should be their highest point of competence. The point at which they would not be stressed by the duties and responsibilities of their job.

Yet 50 years after “The Peter Principal” was published, employers continue to make this error when promoting or hiring someone into a position of management or leadership. We continue to assume that being good at one thing, or at one level, means a person will be good at other things or at higher levels. So the ‘proactive’ solution would be for employers to clearly define what they need and are looking for in the employment position and then objectively match candidates to that position as defined.

Let me illustrate this with a real life example. I was recently working with a client who wants to hire a Director of Clinical Services. The established requirements of the job include that the person must be a licensed Registered Nurse. But the job description goes on to describe duties like, coordinating and scheduling patient care, conducting quality assurance audits, participating in performance improvement initiatives, overseeing day-to-day clinical operations, and managing the clinical team.

So would it be sufficient to simply hire or promote a licensed RN into the Director’s position? Maybe not. You see, great RNs providing great patient care probably are compassionate, and empathetic, with a primary interest in helping others, and a willingness to collaborate and compromise with others when doing so.

Yet you probably want a person at the Director level to be more, well, direct. More strong willed than compliant.  More steadfast than agreeable. Their primary interests need to be focused on leadership, managing processes, and persuading others, rather than caring for and helping people. So you see, promoting your best RN to be your Director of Clinical Services simply because they are great at patient care, might be setting them up for failure.

As I noted in last week’s blog, the key is to clearly define the ideal behavior traits, thinking styles, and interests required by the position you need to fill, and then use an objective assessment like PXT Select™ to see how closely candidates or employees match that ideal.

Doing so would quickly indicate if your nurse might be a good fit for that Director’s job. Or it your chef has what it takes to run the restaurant.

Again, Vertical Performance would be happy to discuss how you might be able to use this tool be more effective in your hiring, promoting and other HR practices. If you would like more info, simply email me at Ljoost@verticalperformance.com.

 Let us know if we can help.

Vertical Performance, Inc.

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Belleville, IL 62220
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