The reason why everyone around you seems to be so bloody terrible at their jobs.

Lorraine is a Deputy Principal at the local primary school. Before that, she was a maths teacher for 20 years. She’s hard working and diligent. But there’s just one problem.

She’s a bit sh*t at her job.

You’re not meant to say that, of course. There are KPIs, targets, improvement plans and very comprehensive feedback and management meetings at play in workplace and none of us are perfect, are we?

Well, no.

But, you see, Lorraine is incompetent. She doesn’t have the skills required to perform her job properly. And she’s not the exception. Far from it.

Lorraine is the rule.

Job interviews translated. Post continues…

The Peter principle, a concept developed by a man named Laurence J. Peter, outlines the phenomenon simply.

In a capitalist society, “members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent,” Peter writes in The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong.


Once they are no longer competent, they are stuck in that role until they leave or retire.

Therefore, most jobs are occupied by a substandard employee.

Well. That explains a lot.

Joe in accounts was good at a job once, years ago. And then he got a promotion and it was the worst thing that ever happened to him.

It’s the fundamental paradox of the workplace: You are rewarded for being good at the job you are in, by being given an entirely different job. 

Teachers are promoted to Principal – ultimately spending less time with students. Writers are promoted to Editor – meaning they spend less time writing. Nurses are promoted to management roles – meaning they spend less time with patients. The same goes for careers in hospitality or law or retail.

The better you do the thing the less you get to do the thing. 

So what you end up with is a lot of talented people in management who are missing on the floor. They have more power, but they are further removed from their craft.

And we are encouraged to move up and climb the proverbial ladder that takes us to a place we never really wanted to go to in the first place.

Ultimately, we’re left with a bunch of people one step ‘up’ from where they really should be.

And that’s why your suspicions that Frank from HR actually has absolutely no idea what he is doing – are probably entirely correct.