Note: I started this post last week, and then ignored the news for a few days. I thought that I would need to table this post as being no longer relevant. Sadly, I found out today that it is even more relevant than before.
I heard in the news on the radio that the government shutdown has become the longest ever. It seems that everyone involved is happy to have it drag on as long as they are able to blame someone else for it. This behavior makes me sick and a bit worried about the future.
It hit me that this kind of incompetence has become almost ubiquitous. We see people in positions of authority who appear to be comfortable with sitting back and looking for others to blame for their failures instead of working to create solutions.
One of the problems is that we have come to equate experience, or time in position, with competence. We often promote the wrong people—someone who does well as an individual contributor gets promoted and immediately starts on the management track. These people then stay in management and begin to be considered as competent just because they have management experience.
It seems to me that a major cause, if not the root cause, of this failure is that we skew evaluations in favor of measures that are easy to quantify. Competence is hard to measure, but years of experience is easy, so we settle for that. In order to fix the issue of living with incompetence, we need to get better at evaluating intangible behaviors.
As cathartic as venting can be, I want to make sure that this is not just a gripe post for me. My biggest takeaway from my thinking about this is to focus on improving my evaluation skills. As a father, and as a manager, I want to find ways to mentor and help others grow in meaningful ways. I want to make sure that I never contribute to this culture of living with incompetence, but instead work to be part of the solution.