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Why incompetent people always get ahead

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The competencies of employees are an essential factor in the production or service delivery process of organizations. However, the same organizations that cherish this premise have eaten humble pies where incompetent employees get their way through promotions and pay increases.

This can happen in any organisation due to a number of reasons.

Unclear Promotion Provisions

A cursory examination of HR Policies and Procedures Manuals of some organizations shows that provisions for internal promotion of employees are not clearly spelled out. Existing provisions give lots of room to subjective elements such as years of working, one’s community, age, minorities etc, which are oblivious to competency.

Sometimes promotion of employees to the next job group is begged on the date of entry into the organization or acquisition of further academic or professional qualifications without linking to work performance. Organizations should review current provisions of employee promotions out of which specific guidelines can be developed to seal loopholes in making promotion decisions.

Weak Performance Management Systems

Although organizations have installed elaborate performance management systems, their outcomes have been reduced to end of year rituals for determining salary adjustments. The systems could generate information that discriminates between competent and incompetent employees but it is ignored in assessing suitability for promotion.

Some managers who appraise staff competencies have not had any training on performance management. Neither have employees appreciated the assessment factors in the appraisal system. To reap from the benefits of strong employee performance systems, organizations should train both the managers (appraisers) and employees on work performance appraisals.

Ineffective Succession Plans

Despite well documented succession plans, many organizations make eleventh hour opposite decisions on succession matters. Competent candidates are sidelined in favour of less qualified ones at the whims of reactive management and supervisory teams.

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Candidates for internal employee promotions should be lined up from at least three employees with excellent work achievement track records. Progressive organization offer training to employees that prepares them for roles of the next jobs in their career progression plans. Out of the pool of trained and star employees organizations would minimize the chances of landing poor performers in undeserving promotions.

Compromised Interviewing Panels

The scramble for limited promotional jobs sometimes lead potential candidates to be involved in unethical behaviour such as obtaining interview questions from known interviewing panel members. The same members also unashamedly seek for kick backs to influence interview outcomes.

Besides being trained and briefed on the interviewing process, panel members should be required to declare in writing any conflict of interest in the pending interview. Senior management should be at liberty to impose disciplinary measures to any members who breach the conflict of interest declaration.

[ See: Life after work – how to retire and live like a king ]

Restoration of Community Imbalance

Historical community imbalances for jobs at the low, middle and top levels of the working structures in some organizations continue to haunt them. Employees who were promoted to fill a community quota continue to rise in the ranks regardless of their ability to deliver services. To compound the situation, attempts to restore any actual or perceived community imbalance is usually met with resistance that affects organizational productivity.

Organizations that have employment or promotion quotas should restrict them to legible competent employees. Those that do not appreciate the hidden consequences of the quota system will have nobody to blame except themselves.

Godfather Syndrome

The godfather syndrome has existed in economic circles from time immemorial to pacify the owners of the means of production. In modern times it is fuelled by board members, senior management or “who is who” in society to create loyal employees with nothing to show in work achievements.

Although it is difficult to kill the godfather syndrome, time is ripe for employees without godfathers to say enough is enough and undertake veiled or loud protests. In India when an incompetent employee is promoted the rest of staff stage a go-slow that cannot be ignored by management.

Samson Osero, HRD Consultant, [email protected]

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SAMSON OSEROhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Samson Osero is Human Resource Development Consultant and Author of 'Transition into Retirement'. My personal email is: [email protected]
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