Peopleware: Promoting towards incompetency

13 Mar

One of the problem with IT management is that there is no well-paid path, in most firms, for people who are technically competent. Instead, most of the well-paid paths only exists if you are moving through management.

As a result, most people who are looking to get better pay aim to be in management whether or not they are really good as a manager. Hence, a lot of very technically competent persons get, happily, promoted to management, but they continue to run their roles like they are still a technical person, totally out of their competency.

An alternative scenario of technically competent people is that instead of getting promoted, they are kept down in the trenchs, by the nature that they are such an asset to the team. They don’t get promoted to managers or team leads and their pay never ever rises above those in management.

Upper management sometimes tends to recognise people who manages processes very well, but have no inkling how well-liked they are with their peers and promote them as managers. As such, these newbie managers or team leads, start to manage people like emotionless processes and components, which is probably what they are doing before they are promoted!

Finally, there are also people who become team lead, but by virtue of not being technically as competent! They however, appear to do a lot work or make a lot of decisions and this please the upper management. However, noise and effectiveness are different matters, but upper management don’t really know those difference. Please who makes a lot of noise (in the right way) always catches the good attention of upper management, but whether or not they are actually productive, effective or efficiency, no one cares.

Although this is somewhat aligned with the Dilbert’s principle of management:

The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.

Promoting people not good at managing can actually do a lot of damage down the line. Staff gets less motivated to work, becomes a zombie worker and stops being proactive or even effective. Work becomes less enjoyable in the long run.


Posted by on March 13, 2008 in Peopleware



2 responses to “Peopleware: Promoting towards incompetency

  1. James O.

    March 8, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Hmmm…Interesting topic Kelvin This is the reason why I left the company.

    • saltwetfish

      March 8, 2010 at 10:36 am

      Hi James,

      thanks for the comment, how work at the new place? Hope you are well and happy!


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