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Why more bosses should be demoted

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If a person has been promoted to a management position but fails to deliver, why are they so often not demoted?

Organisational psychologists say an alarming number of inadequate managers are left in roles they’re not good at simply because people are in denial about their actual abilities.

Peter Doyle, an organisational psychologist, told people often get promoted because of technical skills, which are easier to measure, but these abilities do not equal competence at managing people.

And once someone has moved up the chain it’s hard to move them down again.

“Their identity is inappropriately attached to the job title and status and so there’s a false fear – but a very powerful one – that stops people acknowledging they could step down from their position,” said Doyle.

Peter Cotton, also an organisational psychologist, said poor managers are often left in their roles because the boss who promoted them is unwilling to admit they made a mistake.

“There’s denial and protectiveness from people who made the appointment. It’s an individual thing about egos, they don’t want to admit they made a bad appointment,” he said.

Cotton said when dealing with an inadequate manager, senior managers have to give them a chance to improve. If nothing changes, then it’s time to face facts and admit they might need to step down.

Doyle said this denial has a hugely negative impact on other talent in the office.

“People become demotivated because they see the wrong people being promoted to leadership positions,” he said.

“The best people will vote with their feet and go to different employers, which is the worst result, because often the ones who stay are not the best performers and can’t go elsewhere.”

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