Found in 4 comments on Hacker News
btilly · 2020-02-14 · Original thread
There are solutions to this problem.

My favorite was outlined in - namely treat different kinds of jobs as different skillsets and take away the perverse incentive to switch to one you might not be qualified for. Specifically, moving from being an individual contributor to a manager should come with an immediate pay cut. (With opportunities for a pay raise down the road if you prove competent.) And there should be a promotion track for individual contributors. Furthermore, most managers should manage someone who is higher paid than themselves.

When the perverse incentive is taken away, people are more likely to switch jobs because they think that they will be good at the new job, and not because they want to be important, well paid, or whatever.

But this does require a mindset from managers that they are in charge, but not necessarily more important. Which is a cultural shift that is easier in some organizations than others.

btilly · 2014-03-14 · Original thread
This does not disagree with the point. I've encountered some of the research that they are referring to in What Gallup has done is developed their own methodology to identify who will be effective managers, and their claim is that the managers that they identify as effective have a huge impact on performance. But their identification has a fairly low correlation with what most in the organization perceive as who is effective.

If you re-read the blog keeping what I just said in mind, you will see that it fits. And you will further see that your point is in complete agreement - the people who are perceived as having good management potential have a low correlation with actual performance.

The blog points out that this happens at the bottom level because people who are good at non-management tasks get promoted to management and may or may not be a fit. But as you go up the latter you find that a lot of what tends to get rewarded is visible success. Which gives an unfair edge to self-promoting narcissists who manage to make their occasional successes more visible than they should be. The result being that perception and reality tend to diverge.

There was a book in the late 1990's, "First Break All the Rules: What the world's greatest managers do differently" which was the write-up of a Gallup study about manager effectiveness. One of its conclusions is the point made in this article almost verbatim, that people leave their managers not their jobs or companies. One of the most powerful sections for the book for me was the opening chapter where they explain their assessment methodology. They compiled it down to a catalog of 12 questions and they found that if these questions were answered positively it correlated with high employee performance, good financial results, good retention, etc. The rest of the book dives into more detail on the reasons for this, one being that each employee's talent is different and managers should try to align talents with business need, focusing on employee strengths rather than weaknesses.

Here's the Amazon link:

btilly · 2012-11-05 · Original thread
It is good to see this discussed, but the principle is not news. In the point is made that average managers try to bring up their bottom performers, while the best managers long ago concluded that you get more mileage out of investing energy in the top ones.

Of course the world is full of average people. They have to wind up somewhere. And organizations full of average people are never going to be able to take the advice to work the superstars.

I'll believe that the slogan invest in your best has been internalized by our society when we devote serious resources to making sure that people with IQs in the top 1% stop dropping out of school faster than people with median IQs do. Anyone care to give me odds on this happening in the next 20 years? I'll take the "No" side.

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