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From Team Member to Team Leader

or How to Avoid the Peter Principle Trap?



So, you have finally made it. Your superiors identified your skills and talents and promoted you. No longer one of many, but The Top Dog. How do you make sure not to fall prey to The Peter Principle, therefore your last promotion?


Management is not about being superior. It is about helping those around you get better at what they do, and to do that you need to bring out the best in them. But how to do that?


Think about times in the past when people you looked up to made you better. How did they do it? Chances are they made you feel worthy, challenged you to make an effort, lauded you when you succeeded and encouraged you to learn from failure when you did.


Why not emulate them? It is easier than you think, and the rewards are endless.


What do you think will work better – telling an employee how to do things or guiding them to find out themselves? Obviously, there are limits, health and safety considerations etc, but all risks mitigated, helping employees find the solutions themselves will get you much better results:


1. You will not have to repeat and monitor – once an employee learns how to do things by figuring out themselves, future performance is self-guided

2. You guarantee motivation and drive – think of the example from your past. Just as your tutor making you feel good about yourself drove you to continue and excel, your employees’ performance will be at a much higher level than if given instructions

3. You yourself will grow – asking your employees questions rather than give them the solutions will induce a thinking process that will help you drive better processes


Asking questions is an art to be learned but there are some simple guidelines:

1. Ask open questions. A question that has only a Yes or No answer generates an elimination process, not a thinking one.

2. Keep drilling. Do not settle for the first reply but dig deeper by asking Why and How when you get an answer to the What,.

3. Reflect. At the end of the discussion repeat what you have understood and give the other person the opportunity to confirm or correct.


This all may seem a bit odd at the beginning but by sticking to this method it will become a second nature.


And when in doubt always think about the tutor, coach, or friend that made you feel good and push on. Surely you will want to give your employees the same feeling.

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