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Do you provide the right tools to help your employees succeed?

By Courtney Becton

“The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence.” In other words, an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.” Wikipedia contributors. (2019, October 17). Peter principle. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:09, November 5, 2019, from

In the automotive industry, where the turnover rate can be higher than desirable, one of the most critical functions of a dealership relies on the Controller. It is too often we see Office Managers or Controllers discharged or resign from their position due to lack of preparedness, incorrect skill set, lack of caring, or worse. Unfortunately for some, in a place of hierarchy, they may have been promoted to that position from a supporting accounting role but were ultimately unsuccessful because they did not have the proper tools to execute what the job required.

Employers should consider what they provide to enable employees to transition them from one seat to another successfully. Once an employee reaches a level at which they are no longer competent, in some cases, there is no catalyst for them to push them over the hurdles encountered on a day to day basis. Not overcoming these hurdles can often lead to a negative outcome for both the employee and the employer.

Let’s think about this. It takes more than seniority and years of experience for an employee to transition from one seat to the next level successfully.

When considering an employee for a position of greater responsibility, let’s reflect on these points:


  • Do you believe they will thrive in this area?
  • Are they trainable?
  • How much of their experience is transferable?
  • Do they receive and execute direction well?
  • Are they willing take on the challenge?
  • Are they driven?
  • Are they reliable?
  • Do they adapt to change well?


Let’s also ponder on what the employer can do to assist with this transition:

  • Do you offer the tools necessary to make the goals of the transition attainable?
  • Do you provide professional development?
  • Is there a culture of collaborative effort and teamwork?
  • Do you provide coaching, on-going training, and status meetings?
  • Are you proactive in measuring performance and addressing concerns when an employee appears to be struggling with their tasks?
  • Is the environment encouraging and maintain an open-door policy that employees can express their concerns?
  • Are your expectations about employee productivity realistic?


These are essential considerations to mitigate adverse outcomes. It is unfortunate when an employee has taken on a new challenge and fails; not just because they have reached a level at which they are no longer competent, but also by not having the resources available to make the challenge more sustainable and the encouragement to drive success and produce the desired results.  Take control of the Peter Principle which may exist in your dealership by promoting proactively and ensuring failure is NOT an option.

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