Why Nepotism Is Good For Business

Nepotism gets a bad rap in business these days. A spokesperson from Southwest Airlines once told me straight out “we encourage nepotism.”

If you run your business in such a manner as to take good care of the people that work for you, it should be the kind of place that people would want to encourage their family and friends to work at.

They should also have enough respect for the people they work for that they wouldn’t recommend someone who would be a poor job candidate to begin with, and even if they do, your own screening process should be sufficient as to catch them before they get a job. That said, every company will have a bad hire from time to time.

To be sure, on occasion people will still have to be let go and that can cause friction but if you conduct your business with an appropriate degree of transparency and candor, people will generally understand when that happens.

I would rather hire someone on a personal recommendation or someone I already know because they will work much harder. The common fear is that they’ll try to take advantage of the situation but that is less likely to occur if expectations are clearly established and upfront.

If you do choose to hire “within the circle” here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Lay out your expectations from the beginning and in no uncertain terms.
  2. Always be consistent and fair with praise, reward, and discipline.
  3. Create an air of respect for yourself and other managers. People who respect you will be far more understanding if you have to correct them or let them go for just cause.
  4. Treat your employees with respect in return.

If you know someone isn’t a good fit for the personality of your company and they get recommended, be forward with the person who recommends them and let them know why you don’t think they are a good fit.

My experience tells me that the people I know and get close to are also people I trust, and given the right skill sets are people who will work as hard and well together as they will for me because they don’t want to let me down, nor do I want to disappoint them. And that door swings both ways.

One of my favorite quotes From Sun Tsu’s “The Art of War” on leadership: “If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.”

… adhere to that it at work it won’t matter if your employees are friends or family.

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