Ropes To Skip and Ropes To Know—Chapter 32
Lesson to Be Learned
The main point of the story is that managers tend to choose employees for special projects that they are acquainted with and know they can work with, even when people who are apparently more talented are available. As Faust points out, the managers know that the people chosen will fit into the group, do their work, and will not embarrass them—things they have no way of knowing about employees they have not worked with before, regardless of how highly touted they are (Luthans). Although there may be people available that are more technically competent, the wide range of problems that a new person can bring is daunting; it is generally safer and more satisfactory for a manager just to use someone he is already acquainted with and knows he will be able to handle.
How Theory Might Apply
The theory of Social Darwinism is closely related to the management decisions made in this chapter. Social Darwinism, an outgrowth of Darwin’s natural selection theory, suggests that the kind of mutual support described in the essay “serves to perpetuate unfit individuals and degrade the human race” (Hudson 533). Social Darwinism takes Darwin’s biological theories and applies them to society, concluding that successful people have traits that give them special advantages over others (Serrano). In this case, the theory reflects Faust’s explanation that some people have forged a “bond of reinforcement” because of their ability to get along (Luthan).
I have seen this principle in action on numerous occasions. In one job I had, the supervisor always chose people to promote and lead projects that he was personally friends with. These were the people who came to his house for parties, had lunch with him, took smoke breaks with him, and spent much time talking to him informally at work. In one case, he had a choice of seven high-performing technical experts to promote to a recently vacated...