裙帶關係的危險

The Dangers of Nepotism
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吉爾.柯金岱(Gill Corkindale),高階主管教練解釋裙帶關係的危險後果。

保羅.麥可曼:哈囉,我是哈佛商業數位的內容總監保羅.麥可曼,今天的來賓是高階主管教練吉爾.柯金岱,她的專欄「倫敦來函」刊登在哈佛商業線上網站。吉爾,謝謝妳來上節目。

吉爾.柯金岱:謝謝你,保羅。我很高興來上節目。

保羅.麥可曼:吉爾,我們今天的主題是裙帶關係。如果有商業熱門話題排行榜,這個主題一定會上榜。你最近寫了一篇部落文談裙帶關係。請說明妳的觀點。

吉爾.柯金岱:關於裙帶關係的觀點,真的是我突然想到的。就只是過去發生的一些事浮現腦海。那時我出外度假,想著工作和我過去的工作類型。我以前當過記者。也想到我現在做的工作。我檢視自己的職涯道路。我想一切進展得很順利。直到有一天,我去上班,發現來了一個新人。他看起來很無害、很迷人、很投入、虛心請教。每個人都樂於指導他、教他。

這情況持續了三、四個星期,很短的時間。直到有一天我進辦公室後,發現他突然成為我的上司。我想,這種憤怒感延遲到我度假時才浮現。因為我在想,我的職涯道路是否在那一刻,轉向了某個方向。因為這個人突然從同事,一個相當資淺的同事,搖身成為可以告訴我該怎麼做事的人。我發現很難應付這種情況。

我想知道,我們這個領域裡,是否有人對於共事的上司,不知道為何他們是上司,他們的背景是什麼。這是我對裙帶關係理解的一部分,因為他們突然間就發展成熟,準備就緒,沒人明白為什麼。我真的很想與這個領域的人交流,看看別人是否有這類經驗。是否也像我這樣,十年後突然對此感到有些惱火。

保羅.麥可曼:先回顧一下,這個人是某人的侄子,對吧?

吉爾.柯金岱:他是總編輯的外甥。在他成為我上司之前,我們的關係相當好,他其實有向我坦承,他母親告訴他舅舅,這個人的母親要求自己的弟弟,幫她兒子找到工作,因為他是時候在平面報紙工作了。他相當坦白,坦率說出這一點。我那時想,嗯,照顧家人。有何不可?

但當你的職涯開始被牽扯進來,當你突然發現,有人跳升了四、五步,你突然就開始質疑這個人和制度,質疑人們該怎麼擺脫這個問題。我認為他的工作很輕鬆。我認為人們沒有足夠嚴格地質疑他。

關於英國報界的一件事是,沒有採取民主制度。它們其實更像是獨裁制度。所以你往往不會質疑太多。你對內部政治運作的質疑程度,低於你打交道的外部公司。因此,質疑似乎已經在內部消失了一些,我們都服從規則。就像我說的,它不是民主制度。

保羅.麥可曼:你描述的情況,必定會引起很多觀眾的憤慨。我認為,西方人通常相當負面地看待裙帶關係。我想,偶爾的例外情況,就是我們是這做法的受益人才不生氣。但據我了解,並非全世界都抱持這種看法。

吉爾.柯金岱:對,確實不是。西方己接受某些領域有某種裙帶關係,像是表演等領域。我指的是,演藝王朝。我們有寫作王朝。休斯頓,約翰.休斯頓。像是英國的紅色熱潮,我提到了索爾.貝婁的兒子。他寫了一本書,名為《贊成裙帶關係》。

大致可以理解這一點,這些有創意的人,也許是畫家、藝術家、文學創作領域。也許西方人接受可能存在某種創作基因。這沒問題。但在商業、法律或醫學方面,是的,家族確實會動用關係,但其實應該要求相同的資格條件。應該有一些任人唯賢的制度,美國人崇尚的價值觀。擇優錄取,人人都應該有機會出頭。

所以有深刻的—我會說是深刻的反感,西方反感這一點。在其他地區,例如,中國,家庭結構很重要。印度也是。在印度,國家沒有為家庭做太多事情。家庭結構成為銀行體系,成為社會體系。所以不意外的是,家庭變成企業、商業體系,因為人們一起工作。所以你會發現,那裡有傑出的商業王朝,兒子會被放在組織中培養。

中國也是。在那裡很難不靠人支持或不靠人脈,就能做生意。家庭網絡非常重要。其實,我曾指導過很多中國的主管,他們真的自認在代盡父母的責任。他們就像是員工的父親或母親的化身。

但這是很根深柢固的觀念。一方面,不令人意外的是,他們的侄子,他們的兒子、女兒、妻子,可能會進入家族擁有的企業。不只如此,也包括典型的國營企業或民營企業。這不像在西方那樣是禁忌。我先不考量家族企業,因為我認為那是稍微不同的議題。

保羅.米歇爾曼:好。我想我們可以理解,我們所說的裙帶關係,在某些文化更為普遍,是根源於這些文化淵源。但最終,隨著新興資本主義社會,像中國、印度(在某種程度上)持續發展,在這個全球競爭和激烈力量衝擊的時代,裙帶關係是否會阻礙組織,讓組織無法發揮潛在的創意或效能?

吉爾.柯金岱:我認為是如此。其實,在我部落格上發表評論的一個人說,他曾是《財星》五百大企業的資深主管。他說他完全不推薦裙帶關係。它講的是特權,為人們敞開大門。我也曾與許多企業合作,你會發現,有些人會在那裡,只是因為有人為他們找到工作。他們的表現不佳,缺乏動力。他們可能成為組織中相當負面的人員。

他們可能會在自己周圍引發負面感受。我認為,除非我們真正開放我們的企業、我們的市場、我們的機會,提供給每個層級的每個人,否則我相信這是隱患,這是由來已久的問題。我想,如果你是裙帶關係的受益人,你可能有很多話要說。如果你因此獲得很好的工作,以及很好的職涯發展機會。

但這是百萬分之一的人。對其他人來說,這阻礙了你的技能、才幹、生活、職涯。出人頭地。有時就得成為那個機制的一部分,讓這個人待在自己的舒適區,替他們做事,掩護他們,縱容他們。我認為,在我們這個變動很大、全球性、競爭極激烈的世界中,真的沒有這種關係的容身之處。我會投票反對裙帶關係。

保羅.米歇爾曼:好的,吉爾.柯金岱,非常謝謝你來上節目。

吉爾.柯金岱:非常謝謝謝你。


Gill Corkindale, executive coach, explains the dangers of nepotism.

Paul Michelman: Hello, I'm Paul Michelman, Director of Content for Harvard Business Digital and I'm here today with Gill Corkindale, executive coach and author of the Letter from London blog on Harvard Business Online. Gill, thanks for joining me today.

Gill Corkindale: Thank you, Paul. It's pleasure to be here.

Paul Michelman: So, Gill, our theme for today is nepotism. A hot button topic in business if there ever was one. You recently wrote an entry in your blog about nepotism. Tell us about your point of view.

Gill Corkindale: The point about nepotism came to me really by way of nothing. It just, something occurred to me from the past. And I was actually away on vacation and I was thinking about work and the kind of work I used to do. I used to be a journalist. And the work I'm doing now. And I was looking at my career path, really. It was going pretty well I thought. Until one day I went to work and I found that a new guy had arrived. He seemed quite inoffensive, quite charming, quite engaging, wanted to be shown the ropes a little bit. All happy to do that, showed him the ropes.

And this went on for three or four weeks, a short period of time. Until I came in one day and found he's suddenly been made my boss. And I suppose it was a delayed sense of outrage emerged while I was on holiday. Because I wondered if my career path had gone in a particular direction from that moment. Because this guy suddenly, from being a colleague and a rather junior colleague, was now telling me what to do. And I found that very hard to deal with.

And I wondered if there were people out there in our community who were perhaps working with bosses who they couldn't quite understand why they were bosses, where they'd come from. And this is the part of my understanding of nepotism is they suddenly just appear fully formed, ready to go and nobody quite understands why. So I really wanted to engage with the community and find out if other people had this experience. And whether like me 10 years on they suddenly were feeling bit annoyed about it.

Paul Michelman: So just to backtrack for a moment. This person was the nephew, I believe?

Gill Corkindale: He was the nephew of the editor. And before he actually became my boss we were quite friendly and he actually confessed to me that his uncle had been told by his mother -- his uncle had been told by this guy's mother he had to find him a job because it was time he started work on a paper newspaper. So he was quite open, quite candid about it. And I thought, well, that's quite nice, looking after the family. Why not?

But when your career starts to get involved, when suddenly you see somebody leaping four or five steps up, you suddenly start to question this person and the system and how about how people get away with that. I think he had quite an easy ride of things, actually. I think people didn't challenge him as much as perhaps they should.

One of the things about British newspapers is that they are not democracies. They're actually more like dictatorships. So you don't tend to challenge as much. You don't tend to challenges as much internally the politics as you would challenge the companies you're dealing with externally. So the challenge seems to have disappeared a little bit inside and we all fall into line. As I say, it's not a democracy.

Paul Michelman: So the situation described I'm sure will engender feelings of outrage in lots of people who are watching our conversation today. I think we in the West tend to have a pretty negative view of nepotism. I guess occasionally, unless we are the beneficiaries of that. But it's not the case worldwide as I understand it.

Gill Corkindale: No, it's not the case. And we have accepted levels of nepotism in the West in and fields such as acting. I mean, acting dynasties. We have writing dynasties. Huston, John Huston. The red craze in the UK, and I mentioned Saul Bellow's son. He wrote a book called, In Favor of Nepotism.

And it's sort of understood, those creative perhaps painters, artists, the literary creative fields. Maybe people accept in the West that there's a sort of maybe the creative gene there. That's fine. But when it comes to business or to law or to medicine, yes, families do pull strings but actually there should be same qualifications. There should be some meritocracy on America fanning values of American sightism. Meritocracy, everybody should be able to get on.

So it's deeply – deep antipathy I'd say in the West to this. In other regions China, for example, family structure is very important. And also in India. In India you don't have the state doing so much for families. The family structure becomes the banking system, it becomes the social system. There's no surprise then that it becomes the business, the commercial system, because people work together. So you'd find that you have great business dynasties there where sons would be groomed in organizations.

Also in China. It's very difficult to get business done without a sponsor or without relationships. And family networks are very important. In fact I've coached a lot of Chinese managers who actually believe that they are an in loco parentis. They are the father figure or the mother figure to their people.

But that's very deeply rooted. And there's a side and there's no surprise if people's nephews, their sons, their daughters, their wives, come in. And not just family-owned businesses. Make a distinction. Proper state-owned businesses or private businesses. This is not a taboo in the way it is in the West. I'll take family companies aside because I think they are a slightly different issue.

Paul Michelman: Right. So I think we can understand how what we might refer to as nepotism is more prevalent in certain cultures just based on the roots of those cultures. But ultimately as emerging capitalist societies like China, like India to some extent, continue to develop, and in this era of global competition and just intense forces, does nepotism hold an organization back from being as potentially creative or effective as it might be?

Gill Corkindale: I believe it does. In fact, one of people who commented on the blog said that he'd been an ex-senior manager of a Fortune 500company. He said he has absolutely nothing to recommend about nepotism. It speaks of opening -- it speaks privilege, opening doors for people. It's also I've worked with many companies where you find there are people who are just there because somebody found them a job. And their performance isn't good. Their motivation isn't good. They can become quite negative people in organizations.

They can create a negative feeling around them. And I think unless we really open up our companies, our markets, our opportunities to everybody at every level, I believe this is quite an insidious – that is an age-old problem. I guess if you're beneficiary of nepotism, I mean there's probably a lot to be said for it. If you've got a great job and a great career opening up.

But that's one in a million. For other people this means a barrier to your skills, your talents, your life, your career. Getting on. And sometimes also being part of the machinery that keeps this person in their comfortable zone, doing the work for them, covering for them. Making allowances for them. I don't think in our very dynamic or global, extremely competitive world that there really is a place for this any longer. And I'd vote to ban this.

Paul Michelman: Ok. Gill Corkindale. Thank you very much.

Gill Corkindale: Thank you so much. Thanks.



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