Nepotism In The SQL Family

August 13, 2014

There’s a bunch of sayings about nepotism. It’s unpopular, unless you’re the family member who is getting the opportunity.

But of course, so much in life (and career) is about who you know.

From the perspective of the person who doesn’t get promoted (when the family member is), nepotism is simply unfair; even more so when the promoted one seems less than qualified, or incompetent in some way. We definitely get a bit miffed about that.

But let’s also look at it from the other side of the fence – the person who did the promoting. To them, their son/daughter/nephew/whoever is just another candidate, but one in whom they have more faith. They’ve spent longer getting to know that person. They know their weaknesses and their strengths, and have seen them in all kinds of situations. They expect them to stay around in the company longer. And yes, they may have plans for that person to inherit one day. Sure, they have a vested interest, because they’d like their family members to have strong careers, but it’s not just about that – it’s often best for the company as well.

I’m not announcing that the next LobsterPot employee is one of my sons (although I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of getting them involved), but actually, admitting that almost all the LobsterPot employees are SQLFamily members… …which makes this post good for T-SQL Tuesday, this month hosted by Jeffrey Verheul (@DevJef).TSQL2sDay150x150

You see, SQLFamily is the concept that the people in the SQL Server community are close. We have something in common that goes beyond ordinary friendship. We might only see each other a few times a year, at events like the PASS Summit and SQLSaturdays, but the bonds that are formed are strong, going far beyond typical professional relationships.

And these are the people that I am prepared to hire. People that I have got to know. I get to know their skill level, how well they explain things, how confident people are in their expertise, and what their values are. Of course there people that I wouldn’t hire, but I’m a lot more comfortable hiring someone that I’ve already developed a feel for. I need to trust the LobsterPot brand to people, and that means they need to have a similar value system to me. They need to have a passion for helping people and doing what they can to make a difference. Above all, they need to have integrity.

Therefore, I believe in nepotism. All the people I’ve hired so far are people from the SQL community. I don’t know whether I’ll always be able to hire that way, but I have no qualms admitting that the things I look for in an employee are things that I can recognise best in those that are referred to as SQLFamily.

…like Ted Krueger (@onpnt), LobsterPot’s newest employee and the guy who is representing our brand in America. I’m completely proud of this guy. He’s everything I want in an employee. He’s an experienced consultant (even wrote a book on it!), loving husband and father, genuine expert, and incredibly respected by his peers.

It’s not favouritism, it’s just choosing someone I’ve been interviewing for years.


This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. RichB

    Justify it all you want… just don’t be surprised when it starts to shrink into itself.

  2. Ted Krueger

    Could you expand on what you mean there, RichB?

  3. Adam Machanic

    Nice headline but of course "SQLFamily" isn’t a family. It’s a networking thing. So this isn’t nepotism at all; it’s just good business. Nothing wrong with that, no matter how you slice it.

  4. Rob Farley

    Adam – exactly. It’s an open group and preferring people with a strong sense of community is by no means the same as hiring your nephew.

  5. Justin

    cute, but somewhat disingenuous to the real problem of nepotism. People aren’t born into the SQL community. They don’t inherit SQL cred from their brother – every bit of that is earned, which is the antithesis to  nepotism.
    Hire the most qualified. Go for it. If it’s your brother, great. I doubt it really is though.

  6. Oddvar Eikli

    Loved your punchline, Rob!

  7. Rob Farley

    Justin – yes, I’m being somewhat flippant about the times when nepotism is a problem. I’ve seen it many times in many different situations, and never (I think) benefited from it. But I’ve also reflected on some situations over the years and figured that often those people were probably the best choice, because the hiring manager had stronger confidence in the underlying character of the relative.
    I definitely don’t believe in nepotism when good people are passed over for incompetent relatives. However, I also recognise that hiring is at least 50% relationship. We hire those people we feel we can work with rather than hiring the most qualified. With Ted, I get the best of both worlds.

  8. Gary Schultz

    It is not so much what you know or who you know, but who knows YOU.  

  9. Rob Farley

    Indeed – the relationship must go both ways.

  10. Karen Lopez

    Unfortunately, #SQLFamily wasn’t just a warm and fuzzy name for a group of people trying to find new jobs or sell things to each other.  It originally was about people who went well beyond that and lent a hand, lifted other up, donated kidneys, let online friends stay on sofas, picked people up at the airport, supported eachother,  encouraged each other…all things that strong families do.
    Now it’s become a branding exercise for people to pretend to like each other for business purposes.  Sure, all us original family members are still part of it.  But like you said, it’s an open group of people with some SQL stuff in common.  Not much more than that.  And that makes me said.
    But real families don’t need a label or a hashtag.  We still know who we are.

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