What if I don’t enjoy my work?
The Peter Principle is a management theory which suggests that organizations risk filling management roles with people who are incompetent if they promote those who are performing well at their current role, rather than those who have proven abilities at the intended role. It is named after Laurence J. Peter who co-authored with Raymond Hull, a humorous book ‘The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong‘. The theory suggests that people will tend to be promoted until they reach their “position of incompetence”.
Related, but in contrast to this, is ‘The Dilbert Principle’. This is probably more well-known due to a series of Dilbert cartoons. This principle refers to a 1990s theory by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams stating that companies tend to systematically promote their least competent employees to management in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing.
If you are in work, do you see either of these principles in action?
Although a satirical, humorous book, it is required or recommended reading at some management and business programs. Adams’ presentation of the principle may be satirical, facetious even, but it addresses real concerns.
In Dilbert’s world, work is meaningless and the whole corporate structure engenders laziness, frustration, and even despair. Many disillusioned workers identify with him. A good number of people are deeply unsatisfied with their work, continuing only because they need the money.
What should we do if we’re unhappy in with our jobs?
An article appeared in 2004 called ‘The Dilbertisation of Work’ by Al Hsu, which looks at this from a faith perspective. He argues that:
“whether they realise it or not, people are looking for a job that matches an intrinsic God-given sense of calling or vocation in which they experience challenge, significance, and the satisfaction of meaningful work.”
He moves towards the suggestion that when these yearnings are not fulfilled, it may be that we need to be courageous and make a change:
“Yes, God needs Christians in every field: he needs Christian lawyers and doctors and journalists and engineers and so on. But it’s entirely possible that he does not want perpetually frustrated Christian
working in what they feel are dead-end jobs. If we suffer from chronic Dilbert-feelings, this might be an indication to us that God has something better in store for us elsewhere.”
If you’re happy in your job, please spend some time praying for those who aren’t.
If you’re not happy in your job, then please find someone to talk to, using the contact form on our website if you want to talk to a chaplain.
If you’d like to read the whole article then here it is: The Dilbertisation of Work by Al Hsu