Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Peter Principle

It is a sad fact of life that I was born without a sense of ambition.

None whatsoever.

Well - there are things I'd like to do, but it really is in a vaguely unfocussed way as and when they come to mind, with my usual inimitable style of bumbling genially through life whilst trying to cause as little damage as possible - with no real end point in mind other than to find something that occupies my mind for a short while and is enjoyable to do - preferably in the company of people who are Fun To Work With (IE equally geeky with warped senses of humour).

Which is why I have little time for people who describe themselves as Life Coaches and talk of time optimisation, career actualisation and end game perspectives (or whatever) - I can't see a situation in which I would ever find a use for such a person: other than perhaps to buy me a cup of coffee at one of their far too frequent team bonding effication moments.

I mean sure - I play saxophone (for instance) and I'd like to be much better at it but 8 hours a day practicing - really? Where's the fun in that?  A hobby is something I do for pleasure and that sound a bit like hard work

And yes, sure I'd like to be doing something a bit more creative and fun at work, but I have no real idea what precisely that is nor how to achieve it - and as for promotion well...

I've actually been a manager a few times.  I had a team of 15 people that I looked after and whom I was supposed to check on a daily basis that they still knew their jobs and hadn't forgotten it all over the weekend (instead of, you know, trusting them to just get on with it)- and I was placed in the very odd position of finding and training my own replacement when my job was offshored, leaving me at risk of redundancy and my question to all those career-oriented people out there is - who needs it?

I'm quite happy to keep my head down, stay out of trouble and do the job in front of me the best way I know how.  A little recognition wouldn't go amiss, but hey...

I'm just not cut out to be a Manager - but to be honest life has left me with the distinctive impression that neither are any of them.

Douglas Adams famously said in Life, The Universe And Everything that anyone who was capable of getting themselves into a position of power and actively wanted to be there was, by very dint of that fact, the absolute last person you should allow to be there and there's a similar thing called The Peter Principle

Based on a theory by Laurence J Peter the idea goes that promotion is often based not so much on the ability to do the next job in line as upon proven track record in a current role - thus every Manager eventually rises to his or her own level of incompentence - where they can no longer cause any active harm, cannot be promoted any further and inevitably become paranoid of the young upstarts who are climbing the ladder behind them.

I've had every type of manager: from the David Brent/Ricky Gervais type who tries too hard to be your mate to the shouty/moody type who makes your life a living hell just because they can - but what I really want from a boss is this:
* Someone who understands the role I do and appreciates the difficulties of the job
* Someone who is open and honest about what they are doing and why and is not just looking after number one
* Someone who recognizes that we are part of a team and can be trusted to have your back
* Someone who I can have a joke with, but can take control when required
* Someone who would rather I asked time after time than didn't know something and would have the patience to reply

Someone a bit like me I guess.

Shame there's no power on earth that would make me want to do it.


Stephen Hayes said...

I once had a job where I managed people and I wasn't very good at it. I cared too much about being liked and leading by example was a pain in the behind.

The Bug said...

We are JUST alike!! Very scary :) However, I'm fortunate that my current boss meets all of those criteria - PLUS we agree on political/social matters. I hope she doesn't go away anytime soon!