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People who fail upwards, AIBU to ask how they do it?

(47 Posts)
Feelinggoodtuesday Fri 10-Jul-20 15:37:52

Just that really. I’m looking at the whole Chris Grayling situation and can’t quite wrap my head around how he was even mooted for that intelligence select committee role given his shambolic record, most recently as Secretary of State for transport. I mean, I’m unfortunate enough to have to rely on the northern rail franchise and I recall the mess with the timetable last year. And of course who can forget what he did as justice secretary. How does he fail upwards, I need to know because clearly I’m doing it all wrong, working hard and succeeding in various positions but still have to fight to prove I’m more than capable of upward movement! Help please. How can I fail by lack of effort but still get promoted? Thanks !

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Quarantimespringclean Fri 10-Jul-20 15:53:23

I don’t think failing upwards relates to lack of effort. If anything it’s the opposite. I fail often and each time I collapse, then regroup and try harder next time. I might still fail but as Beckett said, each time I fail better. My effort is indisputable.

I think Chris Grayling (I live between London and Brighton so I am fully aware of what an absolutely terrible transport minister he was) doesn’t demonstrate ‘failing upwards’. He demonstrates the power of the old boys network. He probably also has some dirt on Johnson and Cummings.

LiveintheNow Fri 10-Jul-20 15:59:37

Dunning Kruger effect - they don't know what they don't know so think they know everything

sillybean Fri 10-Jul-20 16:01:33

Haha this post made me chuckle... it's SO TRUE. He is truly awful, how an earth has he got this role given his track record?!

This article made me laugh too:

"What do you even call this way of parcelling out power to inept satellites? A wallygarchy?"

Ukholidaysaregreat Fri 10-Jul-20 16:12:23

Before I opened this I thought - Chris Grayling. gringringrin

Feelinggoodtuesday Fri 10-Jul-20 16:25:01

Thanks for the replies. @Quarantimespringclean I know you are correct about Mr Grayling’s social and political capital, and also about failing well (a lesson we should all heeds) but it still stings grin

@LiveintheNow thanks will read that later tonight.

Wallygarchy! Ha! Love it 😍

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PatriciaHolm Fri 10-Jul-20 16:28:31

He is my MP.

Pity me.

And I have no idea. Unless they are trying to keep him away from something else!!!

Etinox Fri 10-Jul-20 16:30:28

Being a man

midsomermurderess Fri 10-Jul-20 16:32:39

That Marina Hyde piece is hilarious, and the ending, 'having run out of countries to do it to, Britain is now British Empiring itself''.

Starbuggy Fri 10-Jul-20 16:37:37

I think it’s far more to do with the old boys club than any personal attribute or achievement or “failing upwards”. And also the nature of politics that they shuffle around all the time rather than specialising (because then you can always blame whoever came before you)

Sometimes you bounce back from a failure having learned from it and with a determination to do better. Sometimes you go on a downward spiral instead.

If you’re in the old boys club you can just brush your failures under the carpet and leave your shit for someone else to clean up.

Feelinggoodtuesday Fri 10-Jul-20 16:38:21

Sympathies Patricia. I’ll hate to have him as my MP but mind you mine’s not particularly effective either.

Oh believe me, I work in a profession where women fail upwards too (admittedly fewer and more infrequently then men) Hence why I’m asking so I can take my foot of the gas 😂

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PerfidiousAlbion Fri 10-Jul-20 16:44:10

I heard the news of his possible appointment this morning and immediately thought “for fuck’s sake, why HIM?”

He’s teflon coated that’s for sure.

MrsGrindah Fri 10-Jul-20 16:44:11

God I know many people at work that fail upwards.Some reasons include

Nepotism or at least being mates with the boss
Being clever at attending the right meetings etc. Not actually doing any work though.
Not being ashamed to blame others or deny outright the failures in the first place
Clinging on for so long people assume they are th emotional knowledgeable person
Just good old fashioned bullshitting

MrsGrindah Fri 10-Jul-20 16:45:17

That should say “ they are the most knowledgeable person”

HighNetGirth Fri 10-Jul-20 16:46:06

I think people who do this often do have connections, but also are good at capitalising on them. They often hitch themselves to a brighter star and show dogged loyalty to that person which gets them rewards. If you aren’t good at your job, you usually have to be good at your friendships.

Kahlua4me Fri 10-Jul-20 16:54:29

This used to frequently happen a long time ago when I was a nurse. The terrible staff members seemed to get promoted and move up the ladder far quicker than the hard working, diligent ones.

A common thought was that they were so awful that others were happy to give them a reference inorder to move the, on and get them off their team!

ComDummings Fri 10-Jul-20 17:13:43

Be a man, be white and be rich.
It reminds me of this picture

PerkingFaintly Fri 10-Jul-20 17:14:16

"What do you even call this way of parcelling out power to inept satellites? A wallygarchy?"

Oh god, that made me laugh absurdly hard.

I've been ground under Grayling's heel since his days at the DWP.

He sat there in front of a parliamentary committee unable to explain why he imagined his punitive disability benefit schemes would increase employment among disabled people, when what evidence there was showed the opposite. And while the committee pointed out that unqualified JobCentre clerks would be making life and death decisions over people with potentially fatal health conditions, by coercing them into activities with high likelihood of killing them.

ComDummings Fri 10-Jul-20 17:14:19

This one

PerkingFaintly Fri 10-Jul-20 17:22:47

It pisses me off, too, that some people shrug and go, "Oh well, Tories/ posh boys / old boys network, what do you expect?"

Surely even the most dyed-in-the-wool Tory or generic right-winger expects more competence than Grayling exhibits?

notalwaysalondoner Fri 10-Jul-20 17:24:14

I’d say it’s particularly common in the public and third sector - people are useless but it’s hard to fire people, and the incentives are misaligned so instead of getting rid of someone crap you promote them so they get sent to another team/department. That, combined with the old boys network, is how you fail upward. Much less common in the private sector where you have concrete KPIs that it’s easier to say you’ve failed to meet eg profit targets, growth targets etc.

Feelinggoodtuesday Fri 10-Jul-20 17:24:17

Damn it, I’m neither a man, white nor rich!

Oh well, hard work and integrity is not a bad plan B, I suppose.

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Alsohuman Fri 10-Jul-20 17:25:11

Grayling and intelligence in the same sentence. What an oxymoron.

PerkingFaintly Fri 10-Jul-20 17:31:42

You say this about the private sector, but I offer you Dido Harding as just one recent example of someone doing a comfortable round of private sector appointments while failing upwards. She only achieved a public sector position in 2017.

Although to be fair, her record of disaster doesn't touch the sides of Grayling's ("yet", I should add to appease the gods).

Thecazelets Fri 10-Jul-20 17:36:31


Grayling and intelligence in the same sentence. What an oxymoron.

Exactly what I was coming on to say.

It's always gone on, but I wonder if we're just more aware of it now. Outrage seems to do nothing though - everything he touches is a shitshow.

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