Unfortunately, the Peter Principle doesn’t work in Corporate America the way you describe. Most people who are not competent (or qualified) to be in management jobs are the very ones promoted to management jobs. Not because they’re good at what they do, but because of age, race, sex, favoritism, and even “Who’s sleeping with whom?”

And once they’re in a management job, they keep getting promoted to higher management jobs, even when they have no qualifications.

Take Amazon, for example. More than 85% of all management jobs are occupied by White males and the average age of them is 31. The rest are a combination of women and other minorities. Amazon’s willingness to hire any warm body to work in their facilities packing, shipping, and sorting all the stuff people order is one thing, but they don’t promote those same people to any management position; it’s an extremely rare occurrence.

The people they do promote from the floor to a higher (non-management) role are always the youngest, most inexperienced people, even when they have no qualifications. If someone is 40 or over, thus having a lot more qualifications, work experience, and life experience, they won’t get promoted if they apply for that non-management job, because it’s primarily based on age, favoritism, and whether or not the hiring manager likes you. Amazon’s unwritten policy is “Don’t promote old.” The Area Managers that supervise all the floor workers are angling for a promotion, too, so they are actively trying to prevent them from advancing, by writing them up for things that didn’t happen, or because they disagreed with them.

But if a manager is 40 or over, they still keep getting promoted. Case in point: Amazon had a Senior Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP), and the minimum qualifications for that job were a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources Management, plus at least 8 years of prior experience in that role. The person they hired (a woman) had none of those; her degree was in Anthropology, which isn’t related to HR in any way.

Then they promoted her to Employee Relations Manager (ERM), even though the minimum qualifications for that job were the same as the HRBP, plus having a J.D., which she didn’t have. And she was 49 when that happened.

This is the way most corporations function now: they post job openings with pie-in-the-sky qualifications, knowing their chances are slim of finding anyone with those, and then they hire complete idiots who have no business having that job.

HR has become nothing more than a way to oppress and get rid of good employees, and until that changes, nothing will change in Corporate America.




Eradicating nonsense with logic and empirical knowledge

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Robert Hoffman

Robert Hoffman

Eradicating nonsense with logic and empirical knowledge

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