Make your Children Accountable and Responsible

By Prof. Enrique Soriano

Nepotism has a long history in many countries in Asia, with examples found in different periods and contexts. Here is a brief overview of the historical context and notable instances of nepotism in Asia especially in China, Japan and India:

Imperial China

As mentioned earlier, nepotism was prevalent in imperial China, where emperors and ruling dynasties often appointed family members to positions of power and influence within the government and bureaucracy. This practice aimed to consolidate familial control and maintain loyalty within the ruling family. In feudal Japan, nepotism was pervasive among the ruling samurai class. Powerful daimyo (feudal lords) would often appoint their family members, such as sons or close relatives, to key positions within their domains. This practice allowed them to maintain control and secure their family’s status and power.

In South Asia and before India’s independence, the Indian subcontinent consisted of numerous princely states ruled by local monarchs. In many of these states, nepotism was so common that  local rulers would often appoint their relatives to positions of power and authority within the state administration.

Modern Asia also gave rise to nepotism in business environments, particularly in family-owned enterprises. Family members may be given preferential treatment and positions within the company, often based on their family ties rather than their qualifications or abilities.

Managing nepotism in a family business is essential to ensure fairness, maintain a healthy work environment, and maximize the business’s potential. So if you are in a dilemma and still insist that being blood is a birthright and translates to employment, then the next step is to make your children accountable.  Here are some strategies I would always advise founders and business leaders across Asia to effectively manage nepotism:

Establish clear policies and enforce accountability: Develop and communicate transparent policies that outline the criteria for hiring, promotion, and decision-making within the company. These policies should emphasize meritocracy, qualifications, and performance as the primary factors in making such decisions.

Professional evaluation and feedback: Implement objective quarterly performance evaluation systems that assess all employees, including family members, based on their performance and contribution to the business. Regular feedback and performance discussions can help identify areas for improvement and ensure accountability.

Be Fair: Offer equal opportunities for growth and development to all employees, irrespective of their familial relationship. Implement a system for career progression that is based on individual competence, skills, and achievements, rather than solely relying on family ties.