prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Peter Principle.

I do not know if the Peter Principle is true or not. If it is true an incident in my life might help prove that it is true. Here is a statement of the Peter Principle.

The Peter principle is a special case of an ubiquitous observation: Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails. This is the "generalized Peter principle". There is much temptation to use what has worked before, even when this might not be appropriate for the current situation. Laurence J. Peter observed this about humans.[1]
In an organizational structure, assessing an employee's potential for a promotion is often based on their performance in the current job. This eventually results in their being promoted to their highest level of competence and potentially then to a role in which they are not competent, referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching their career's ceiling in an organization.
This states that if you are doing a good job you will be promoted until you are not doing a good job. I was a young man working for Schlumberger. I was a field engineer. I went to oil wells and ran various  logs and services.
It was a hard demanding job requiring long hours, 24 hour call, and much technical training. I did a good job. After several years I was promoted to Station Manager in Santa Maria, California. As Station Manager I was in charge of a one truck Schlumberger post. I managed several people but also did the field engineer work. Then I was promoted to District Manager in Newhall, California. I had several crews to manage. I had a large desk and a secretary and a shop crew. Some two dozen people.

In a couple years the the Newhall District was closed due to a decline in business. I was transferred to Bakersfield and put back to engineer on a truck, I assumed that I would be in line for the next District Manager vacancy. Not so! I was never promoted again. When a new manager was required for Bakersfield I was told that an engineer junior to me was getting the job. In fact I had been involved in training the engineer when he was first hired. This was a shock to me. I was even given the news by the new Manager. (who I believed was junior to me)
Management evidentially did not appreciate the manager job I did in Newhall.  I very much felt shut out of ever being a manager again. Darn Peter Principle. I was transferred to Coalinga. I think so as to spare the new manager the discomfort of bossing a former superior. I do not believe I ever did anything that should have made Management feel that was necessary. Maybe the new District Manager just wanted me in a different District.

Oh well it all worked out in the end. I eventually left Schlumberger for a Petroleum Engineer job in Long Beach, California. And then to Superior Oil and Mobil Oil in Houston, Texas.

I still fondly remember my 15 years with Schlumberger. What did I do wrong?

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