Bonita G. Para, MS, Mediator
Serving Broward, Palm Beach & Miami Dade Counties

Friday, April 12, 2013


What is the Peter Principle? The idea that people get promoted in the hierarchy until they reach their level of incompetency. 
My experience tells me that most conflict in the workplace remains unresolved due to a lack of conflict resolution competency in the managerial hierarchy. 
People get promoted based on the skill they show in their current positions and the expectations that they will perform just as well or better in an elevated position. However, in most cases with promotions come the expectations that supervisors or managers will have all the skill it takes to deal with anything job related in their pay grade.  This is not true! The most overlooked skill in promoting  is an ability to resolve conflict among staff.
If you have ever worked under a boss who is conflict averse, this is the Peter Principle in action. I will bet there has been unresolved conflict among the staff. Conflict may be a result of interpersonal conflict, poor communication, unmet expectations, poor work product, lack of accountability, lack of systems or processes or numerous other causes. 
My experience as a mediator tells me the best run companies train their managers from the top down to address conflict before it spreads through the staff. When conflict is chronic, is not addressed, escalates or  tactics are used to punish staff unfairly, this indicates the Peter Principle to its fullest. You can read the book, "The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong" by Peter and Hull.

What is your experience in the workplace with The Peter Principle? This is a public blog, so be judicious in choosing your words. I will delete postings that name names.

1 comment:

  1. Must agree with the blog. Very few managers want to or are trained to deal with conflict. In my case it escalated to physical assault to force managers to deal with it. They only did to avoid having law enforcement called in.