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How Employees Deal with their Incompetence Syndrome

A Hypothesis
Sohailuddin Alavi
Capacity Building and Institutional Development Consultant Karachi, Pakistan


As employees climb up in their careers their confidence of being competent gets strengthened Nevertheless, generally as soon as the employees face newer challenges in their work situations, this realization comes naturally that they lack competence in one area or the other Yet, very few take this internal criticism constructively and improve: How do others deal with such situations is the focus of this analysis 3/11/2013 Sohailuddin Alavi


Competency Defined
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Competency is relative and changes over time Competency is a process manifested in:
◦ Ability to analyze and describe an opportunity or a problem in a holistic perspective ◦ Ability to be creative so to innovate response that is effective, efficient and within the bounds of morality and ethics ◦ Ability to make right decision and act prudently ◦ Ability to harness outcome
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Response to Incompetence: International literature review
A research was published in an international magazine on the subject about a decade ago  The locus of research was employees in the US and Japan  It was revealed that US employees, as they realize their incompetence take shelter in bureaucratic tactics. Such as:

◦ Promote administrative rather than technocratic culture ◦ Emphasize on hierarchies to assert and prevail ◦ Rely on their legitimate authority to control others ◦ Encourage top down communication only ◦ Demonstrate visible superiority in physical facilities (Offices, entitlements, benefits, etc.) ◦ And much more…
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Response to Incompetence: International literature review

Japanese employees’ response was in contrast to the US culture
◦ Reported response of an average Japanese employee was that as soon as the realization of incompetence comes he or she generally steps down from the position ◦ In some extreme cases, it was reported that such employees had even committed suicide (May be in compensation of their mistaken occupation
of the position)
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Indicative Variables that are Likely to Influence Response
Rights centered mind-set or motivation  Lack of deterrence in the immediate work  Lack of accountability (“Punitive reinforcement”)  Feudal value system (“We-They”)  Compartmentized values  Habit of denial  Insecurity  Culture  Pride

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