How important is nepotism?

Nepotism is a kind of business insanity. It involves favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives.

It is based on the unsupported idea that one’s relatives are automatically more qualified than anyone else and should be exempt from the policies that apply to everyone else.

If you work in this kind of environment, you need to have your head examined. No matter what management has promised you, you will not be welcome on Management Row and you will never be considered on your merits, because you are not “family”.

Rules that apply to you do not apply to “family” members. Mistakes that will get you fired, like making a judgement call that produces a bad result, will be glossed over when made by a family member.

Any advice you give that could correct or uncover a family member’s mistake will be viewed as an attack on the company. You are viewed as a second-class employee and any effort to upset the status quo will single you out as a trouble-maker to be disposed of.

After a while you will become very cautious and may become fearful that you might lose your job by unknowingly offending someone who is connected to the family. You have now started the slide toward becoming expendable.

Nepotism probably springs from the natural desire of a short-sighted company founder to provide a secure future for his children and family members. The experienced founder recognizes that the only way to keep a company growing is to promote and hire those who are best qualified.

Since business acumen and good sense are not inherited, but learned, efforts to put family members in charge of a going enterprise usually end up disastrously. If family members fit the bill, they should be given every opportunity to succeed, but only on the same basis as any other employee. Otherwise, the good people who have built the company leave when their efforts go unrewarded.

Whenever you find policy being applied only to rank and file employees, you are seeing favoritism at work. It is an effort to impose a class system where there should be a meritocracy. Business success is a real-time example of survival of the fittest. When the unfit are promoted and put in charge because they are family, the company management is saying, “We are entitled to lead, because Grandfather founded this company.”

Owners of a company are empowered to do anything they want even if it is terminally stupid. Family companies are often run quite efficiently, but they often have a blind spot when it comes to eveluating the contribution of family members.

You don’t have to stand there in total bewilderment while favoritism destroys what you and others have built. Non-family members rarely enjoy lasting success in a family-run company. Just accept it as a natural law. Get out and seek your fortunes elsewhere.

Nepotism is a sign of corporate insanity. Avoid companies where it exists.

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0 Responses to How important is nepotism?

  1. Karol says:

    In small businesses, I think nepotism is the only way to survive. And, isn’t there something to be said for passing on a business (big or small) to your kids?

  2. Carrie says:

    Well, since we know I am having my head examined, I guess we can safely say I’ve taken that advice already.

    I’m afraid to read the rest but I will. *sigh*

  3. Carrie says:

    Ok I read it. Dead on accurate again. Is there nothing you don’t know? πŸ™‚

    I’d just like to say in response to Karol’s comment if I may, there may be something wonderful in building a biz for your family. But nepotism requires that one build it on the backs of others who will never be treated fairly. In essence, you’re building something that will be reviled by the best and brightest who made it what the family inherits. And those best, as Dave said, will likely have left.

    Personally, I’d be ashamed to run a company my family built by using others. No amount of money can replace integrity.

  4. In a micro-business, your only employees may be relatives, at first, but you had better avoid playing favorites among your employees or you will lose those who are the real contributors.

    You have every right to employ relatives and look after their welfare. Just don’t make the mistake of putting your company in the hands of those who are not competent to lead.

    Favoritism, of any kind, is demoralizing and counter productive. It creates a power structure that undermines the published chain of command. Office liaisons have the same kind of effect, but on a more localized basis.

    Small business or large, nepotism is a losing proposition. The Ford Motor Company’s Edsel was an early monument to this fact. I am sure that there are many others.

  5. The main problem I found with nepotism is the the company President promptly dropped Junior into the top management job. Of course, Junior failed to recognize his complete lack of understanding of the business, or its employees. On the contrary, he knew all, by virtue of his birth certificate. He was a colossal failure, and all of the good employees were soon long gone. He got his wish though, the incompetent yes people remained. The business lost tons of money and customers under his glorious leadership into oblivion.

  6. Often Nepo-Frustrated says:

    Is there anyway to get ahead or get past the nepotism other than leaving the company?

  7. Mark Braun says:

    Having worked in one business after another that employed nepotism, I am living witness to how it errodes employee loyalty and what gets stolen, wasted and waved in front of actual workers while the silver spooners often thrown their noses up at those who ain’t gots nothin’.
    I worked at one firm for 15 years, finally being “downsized” by the son of the man who hired and promoted me. My sin? Working early and staying late enough to really sweat the small stuff while the family fiddeled like Nero. Flash forward to another firm: I lasted three weeks as the brother and sister company held a sunday night meeting to chew out staff so that we didn’t waste our monday morning productivity. I noticed a couple of people silently disapeering as I started there; their flight was kept quiet, but not enough to hold me a minute longer.
    A third firm was the same old thing: the sons had the spoils and had face time there, but when a good bunch of us had the chande to jump, we all did and so the place erroded to a fraction of its size with staff tripling and quading up responsibilities.
    I’m in my fourth workplace in thirty-plus years and while nepotism remains real here, too, I don’t kid myself that I’ll ever get a piece of this pie. I now work for myself first with little intent of contributing more than necessary. My best ideas will remain my own… until one of my kids hires me πŸ˜‰

  8. Kathy says:

    I’ve been saying this for years and people have been telling me I should get my head examined, and that I should just accept the world the way that it is.
    Depending on where you work– I’m sure the degrees of nepotism vary, but the area I was trained in — its really all that there is. I work as a research assitant, and I have lost track of the number of times I have gotten side stepped by the incompitent children of other dr’s who wish to get their kids hooked up with a cushy job so their CV’s can be ‘nice and spiffy’ for their medical school applications.
    I’m currently losing my job to a 3rd year history major who landed the job I was supposed to step into next. The guy doesnt know his head from his ass, but his dad is a friends with my boss. All this, after I was promised the job essentially at the interview (for the position I have now, and I have two degrees (in two relevant fields). To add insult to injury, he’s told people I wasen’t qualified for the job.

    I can understand helping your friends and relatives, but what is to be done when the job isen’t even being done properly by these people, and you have to put up with criticisms — so these assholes can validate their biased decisions in the first place?

    You right these people ruin teh work environment and in the end – end up eroding their businesses, but unfortuntely the non-inncomient relatives and other employees end up picking up the slack for these people, because they have no choice.

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