A caller to a podcast I listen was upset about being passed over for a promotion because the owner of his company hired his nephew and put him in a job that the owner had promised the caller. He said the nephew wasn’t at all qualified for the position and was looking for advice. The host suggested that the caller start looking for a job because if the caller was right about the owner reneging on his promise and hiring an unqualified nephew he has no integrity, and you don’t work for people that don’t have integrity. Sound advice.

Nepotism is favoritism based on relationships (blood or otherwise) and it’s not always an integrity issue. If you feel you’re being passed over because of nepotism you should ask yourself some questions.

If you work in a large company where there’s a ‘good old boy’ network with an accelerated career path based on who drinks beer with whom, and who can kiss more cheek, you probably need to start looking elsewhere. Conversely if you struggle with certain elements of your job, isolate yourself from your team, aren’t growing your capabilities or aren’t adding value to the bottom line you likely are going to be passed over for someone else.

In a smaller company consider relationships of the other individuals involved. In a family-owned business family is commonly “groomed” to take over certain functions within the company. They may not be as qualified as non-family members when the promotion comes, but they are capable and willing to learn. Owners concerned about business continuity may move a less qualified family member ahead of you to ensure the longevity of the organization. I don’t see that as nepotism, and that’s a risk you take working in a small family business. That said, if the individual isn’t capable, or feels entitled due to their family standing and gets the job anyway that’s an integrity issue with the owner(s) and straight up nepotism.

The biggest question you should ask yourself regardless of the size of the company – am I doing what is expected to grow into a new position? Do my background, abilities, passions, and interests align with the job? Am I producing quality work that goes beyond expectations? Do I respect the work of my team? Do my teammates respect my work?

No question there will be times where the “other guy” gets the job and there’s going to be hard feelings. If you’re in an organization that values relationships over abilities when promoting staff you may have to move on. Before making a decision to change, talk to others inside and outside the organization. Listen to their input and make sure you’re controlling the things you can control. Talk to leadership about your objectives & how they align with the company mission.

We all want to work where we feel appreciated and get a fair shake. If nepotism is holding you back it’s time to make a change, just don’t mistake favoritism for a reasonable decision that does not advance your career.

One Response to “Nepotism”

  1. Kellie says:

    I worked in a family company for 16 years. The company was amazing and I adore the family. After a year in other jobs I can honestly say I was paid fairly and learned so much. If you don’t believe in the owners vision move on and fast. It will not change. You will not be able to change the culture. No mater your position. If you can live with that great if not join us as we venture on to new careers!

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