A jaundiced view of promotion
Before Christmas we published a slightly angry post from a local government consultant. It generated quite a lot of interest and comment and so when another, equally angry, e-mail from the same consultant dropped into our inbox we thought it was worth giving it an airing.
Apologies to all people called Joe!
Local Government is proud to present Joe. Joe, a stand up sort of character from the community. Always did OK in school and lives an active life in the community. An ideal candidate for local authorities to try and recruit.
The problem is, is that Joe is not an ideal candidate. Joe has applied to work with children and young people, thinking (wrongly) that you don’t need to have any special skills or experience. The Local Authority eager to encourage social enterprise and community development puts Joe through to the interview stage of this particular post. Joe does OK at interview, the other candidates aren’t suitable. The Local Authority recruitment panel think, let’s try him out, with a bit of training, he might do OK. To go back to advert will take time and cost more money, both the Local Authority doesn’t have.
The unfortunate thing is, is that Joe just about completes the training. He struggles everyday with his role. He is referred to occupational health for stress related matters, who ensure that his working environment is suitable. Probably spending about £3k in the process, new chair, new lamp, new desk etc etc. The bottom line is that Joe just isn’t very good at his job. HR try to encourage his line manager to think about using the probation period. The line manager, also a budget holder, is worried about the price of recruitment, sometimes ranging up to £2,000 for a £18k salaried role. Surely, Joe just needs some more time to settle in?
Years roll on past. Joe doesn’t improve, but management aren’t sure what to do with him. So they promote him to a job where there is less contact with children and young people. More data capture and data input. Joe thinks, “yes, better money, they obviously think I’m doing a good job. I still hate it though, but it’s good enough to pay the mortgage…”
In Joe’s lifetime, he gets promoted three more times to try and move him on into posts that he can’t wreck.
In every single team, his teammates have to pick up after him. Usually putting in more hours to ensure Joe’s projects are delivered on time and to a decent quality. Joe just tootles through life in happy oblivion. People he ends up managing often lack motivation or aspiration to improve. After all, if a man like Joe can get promoted, surely they can perform at 40% capacity…
Local Authorities – good business models? I think not.
How true is this? We’re optimistic sorts so think that the above, although it certainly happens, is not all that common. Are we being foolish? Is our consultant correspondent correct? Please do let us know.