|From The MRA Newsletter, June, 2006|
|The Paul Principle
By John Loven - COO MRA
|The Paul Principle says, 'Continue to provide people with what
they need to succeed.' It sounds like simple common sense, but business
people too often substitute the infamous Peter Principle.
Laurence J. Peter's famous "Peter Principle" says that in a hierarchically
structured organization, people tend
to be promoted up to their level of incompetence
. It claims to account for a lot of
and it probably does. According to The Wall Street Journal
, there was a commonly-used hiring
philosophy in the 1990's which said "Hire the best talent, then find something for it to do."
With no model of the desired fit between a job description and a job candidate, hiring
turned a lot of people into victims of the Peter Principle. It is important to notice that
when the Peter Principle is in play, everyone is failing, including the managers who did
not respect people's abilities and limits.
The Peter Principle
reflects a very familiar human mistake. We take the best sales rep in
a district and make her the district manager. We take the most accurate rifle shot in a
platoon and make him the Sergeant. And we fail to ask if the strength for which we value these
individuals (selling skills, marksmanship) will still be a strength required
in the new job.
If existing strengths are not critical, does the individual have the alternate strengths that the new
job requires? Can our prize sales rep train others well? Will she thrive on a much larger
paperwork-and-planning burden? Could we serve the organization better by giving the sales rep
a bigger territory or a more important product and keeping her in the field? Will our rifleman
be able to motivate and manage others? Can he placate the picky Lieutenant? Could we do better
by sending the crack shot to sniper school or making him a riflery instructor, thus keeping
his finger on the trigger?
The Paul Principle
says "Continue to provide people with what they need to succeed." It
sounds like simple common sense, but business people too often substitute the Peter Principle. The very
problem we're talking about - keeping people in situations where
they succeed - was a problem for the early Christian Church in Corinth. It provoked St. Paul
to write his famous treatise in Corinthians
about how different people have different gifts and
should be maximizing the gifts they have, not worrying about the gifts of others. A major part of
Paul's advice was to "... Covet earnestly the best gifts." Don't throw them away: keep them, cultivate them,
This is wisdom that will serve modern organizations. If we can measure the management styles and
working conditions that create success for a given job description, and if we can measure the same
parameters in a job candidate, then we can select a candidate who thrives in just that situation.
MRA profiling can identify some very important things that, given, make for success
and denied, lead to failure. Here's one parameter to consider:
Dealing With Authority
Some individuals like to have authority and to use it. They feel empowered when they set goals
for themselves and others. The risk inherent in wielding authority - that you may be wrong and/or
alienate others - does not faze them. Other personality types are very uncomfortable having or using authority.
They see it as inevitably confrontational. Having to re-direct others, much less actually
"kicking butt and taking names" is an agony.
MRA profiling objectively measures this trait: the individual's relationship to
having and using authority in the workplace. Part of an MRA profile is a rating for "Ascendancy".
Persons with a high Ascendancy measurement fall in the first category. They are happy to have and
use authority. They will seek authority in their realm and are highly motivated when rewarded by
being given increased authority. Persons with a low Ascendancy measurement will hold cooperation
and non-confrontation as important values and therefore will not want to have major authority
and, if given it, they will be very slow to use it. They are, by their personality makeup, much better team players
So if the job requires ceding authority to other layers of management, if it requires
consultative selling or conflict mediation strategies, then the low Ascendancy person will be
a winner. If the job requires doing regular performance assessments of others, doling out
bonuses and seeing to terminations, what kind of person will succeed? The high Ascendancy
candidate will thrive.
Authority is only one of many crucial job aspects for which MRA profiling
provides clear and objective decision support to the manager. To learn more about others,
visit our web site at http://www.mra-ent.com/
or call us at 610-489-0895.
Using MRA profiling, you can put the Paul Principle to work, placing people
in situations where their strengths are put to best use and they can succeed by being who
they really are.
Questions or Comments? Send us an email.