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Why do we see in most organizations that there is no clear path of promotion for developers?

dannysteenman profile image Danny Steenman ・1 min read

Why do we see in most organizations that there is no clear path of promotion for developers?

For example, I experienced that great devs got promoted to terrible managers, causing teams to fail later down the line.

Unfortunately this is a real thing and is referred to as the "Peter principle":

The Peter principle states that a person who is competent at a job will earn promotion to a more senior position which requires different skills. If the promoted person lacks the skills required for the new role, he or she will be incompetent at the new level, and will not be promoted again. If the person is competent in the new role, he or she will be promoted again, and will continue to be promoted until reaching a level at which he or she is incompetent.

Being incompetent, the individual will not qualify for promotion again, and so will remain stuck at that final level (termed "Final Placement" or "Peter's Plateau").

This outcome is inevitable, given enough time and assuming that there are enough positions in the hierarchy to which competent employees may be promoted.[2] The "Peter Principle" is therefore expressed as: "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."

Why do technical people want to get promoted to a management function? Is management seen as superior to being a dev?

Discussion (5)

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davidtran profile image
David Tran

I think most of the companies have a salary cap for a developer. No matter how many years of experience, your salary won't increase anymore if you stay at developer position. That's why some developers want to promote to management position.

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siy profile image
Sergiy Yevtushenko

Perhaps it happens because non-technical managers see devs in organization as a swarm with no sensible hierarchy. Promotion, from their point of view, can be only such that moves dev out of that swarm, i.e. shifts dev to manager. Devs tend to ignore the fact that what we're doing significant amount of people tend to perceive as something obscure, kinda black magic.

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eduardoewgo profile image
eduardoewgo

I am pretty sure you will be interested in this reading as well: calbucci.com/17-reasons-why-becomi...

I don't think being a manager should necessarily be the next step if you reach the salary cap as a dev. If the motivation is solely money, it's not always true that you'll earn more in a management role, so you gotta ask yourself what you like more: people or engineering? (superficially speaking)

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titouansola profile image
Titouan Sola

Thank you for making me discover Peter principle!
Maybe "management > devs" comes from an old thought about hierarchy as "management > worker" ? I don't know

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siy profile image
Sergiy Yevtushenko

These three things should be part of a basic educational programs in school (but they aren't): Peter Principle, Murphy's Law and Parkinson's Law.