Author Topic: Why Do Toxic People Get Promoted?  (Read 1346 times)

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Offline daftandbarmy

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Why Do Toxic People Get Promoted?
« on: August 31, 2018, 00:35:15 »
Why Do Toxic People Get Promoted? For the Same Reason Humble People Do: Political Skill

Sometimes the wrong people get promoted. They might be deceitful and unscrupulously manipulative (what psychologists call “Machiavellian”); or impulsive and thrill-seeking without any sense of guilt (psychopathic); or egotistically preoccupied with themselves, having a sense of grandiosity, entitlement, and superiority (narcissistic). Employees with one or more of these three personality traits, known as the “dark triad,” are more likely to cheat, engage in fraudulent or exploitive workplace behavior, and make unethical decisions. It can be frustrating for honest and humble people to watch these employees get ahead. Why, given their toxicity, do they rise through the ranks? How do such people manage to succeed?

In a recent research study published in Personality and Individual Differences, I looked at the influence of political skill among employees. Political skill is defined as a positive social competence that helps people network, influence others, demonstrate social astuteness, and appear sincere in their dealings with others.

I surveyed 110 employees in Singapore in a variety of industries and positions, asking them how they viewed their political skill in the workplace. I also determined their scores on the H-factor of personality. High scores on the H-factor indicate honesty-humility. Low scores are practically identical with the common core of the dark triad. Finally, I also surveyed these employees’ bosses.

I noticed that toxic employees whose political skills were highly rated by their supervisors were more likely to have a high performance rating. In other words, while not all toxic people possess political skill, those toxic people who use political skill effectively in the eyes of their bosses are seen as better performers. And as we all know, those who are seen as top performers are more likely to be promoted.

Is there a way to prevent toxic people from moving up? Organizational psychologists who are knowledgeable in personality and behavioral assessments may help identify toxic personalities early, but if the employee possesses political skill, this task is difficult. Bosses could also check with an employee’s colleagues and subordinates before making a promotion, as toxic people may behave differently toward colleagues and subordinates than toward bosses who have decision power.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Pusser

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Re: Why Do Toxic People Get Promoted?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2018, 10:22:21 »
Toxic people get promoted because they get things done regardless of the pain and suffering they leave in their wake.  What the superiors can see in a toxic leader's unit is the high competition scores, the perfect records and other indications of high performance.  What the superiors don't see are the broken marriages, the burn-outs and the general feeling of resentment the troops may have for their "leader."  Furthermore, this kind of environment often strives to make things look good or show promise when the unit is under observation.  The fact that it's all smoke and mirrors and that the steps taken to get to the "look good" stage are unsustainable is quickly forgotten and/or overlooked by the observers.  I've often thought that PERs (especially for folks in key positions) should be written six months AFTER someone has left a position, so that the true results of his/her tenure can be assessed.  I once took over a job and initiated three summary investigations within the first month over the crap that I found, yet my predecessor got off scot free (and went on to make similar mistakes in his next unit) and I was left holding the bag ("your predecessor didn't seem to have all the problems you do...")

How many times have COs forced their units to waste time polishing equipment that doesn't need to be polished or isn't even supposed to be polished (i.e. to the point where excessive polishing actually damages the equipment) or even replaced perfectly good equipment (at great expense both in materiel cost and staff effort) just because some general or admiral was coming by?  I remember one Admiral's Inspection where the CO ordered all the perfectly functional fire hoses replaced with shiny new ones, somehow in the belief (I guess) that the Admiral had forgotten what a functioning fire hose in a ship of war looked like.  I think it would have been so cool if the Admiral had looked at them and then admonished the CO for wasting the taxpayer's money in an obvious attempt to suck up.  Unfortunately, toxic people tend to  promote their own and the cycle continues...
Sure, apes read Nietzsche.  They just don't understand it.