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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