The Incompetent Manager

September 8, 2016 Chris Pearse

I’ve never understood why, in some fields, high performance is rewarded by promotion up the management ladder. This creates a unique anomaly whereby the system pulls you away from your area of expertise. You, and the organisation, become hapless victims of your previous success. And, of course, not only does the organisation lose a talented professional, it may well inherit an incompetent manager.

Now this works fine if the person is actively seeking a supervisory role and has the right stuff – but I wonder how many seek management because it is the only way of achieving tangible recognition for success.

Is this mechanism based on the premise that those that are good at their profession are necessarily good at organising others in the same profession? Should Wayne Rooney manage England as well as captain it?

I’ve seen this phenomenon manifest across many sectors… but it seems particularly destructive in the Engineering sector where brilliant engineers can devolve into inept managers, aided and abetted by the organisation.

And all for a job title that is perceived to have more kudos.

If this is a problem, how do we address it?