A Millenial son of a successful tycoon shared his frustration on working in his father’s successful business.
The business has been there over the last 30 years, and has grown in size. Due to its age and the father’s management skills, the business churns out income from regular customers. Many of the staff has been working for the father from the very beginning, and are at least in their 40s.
After his graduation, the son worked in the family business. Having gone to excellent schools in Manila, he was bustling with ideas on how to “modernize” the company. He wanted to bring the operations to the digital age, and was excited on how to make business operations smoother and better.
Two years after, the son is still working in the family business but is frustrated that his father doesn’t really listen to his ideas. None of his ideas were executed. And his father’s people still follow the father’s instructions. If he wants them to do something, they would still double check with the father if they are to prioritize the son’s projects. Given this, the son is wondering whether he is banging his head on the wall. If his work in his father’s business is futile, maybe he should just work for somebody else OR do his own business.
Which S.O.B. Are You?
When he was relating his story, I thought there were some gaps to his story to the reality presented to him. For one, he was a newbie in his father’s business. So a little grass foot. At 2 years, a person still has not mastered how to run the business from top to bottom. If someone tries to insist his way without understanding the whole operations, it would be disastrous for everyone else.
To be successful in running a family business, you need to remove yourself from the position of SON OF BOSS (S.O.B. #1). Workers should not just follow you because of who your daddy or in-laws are, but rather because you’ve earned your wings and they want to work for you.
If you did not earn your right to manage yet, if you still continue to give unreasonable instructions, many disgruntled employees will call you a SON OF A BITCH (S.O.B. #2) behind your back.
DISCLAIMER: No offense to your mother ha. This is just a way employees talk and complain about a manager who they have to follow, but they think don’t know what he is doing. This is what employees usually call people na nagmamagaling pero hindi naman magaling.
However, if you are a good manager, very hard working, fair and dependable, everyone — from the workers to your dad — would think of you as worthy to manage over them. Only then would you be the last SOB — the SUCCESSOR OF BOSS (S.O.B. #3), who everybody wants to be.
What are some Practical Tips to be from Son of Boss (SOB # 1) to Successor of Boss (SOB # 3)?
1. Earn Respect First
Show parents your worth. Ideas are nothing without proper execution. Don’t just nag them. Do something to make your ideas real. Diskarte lang.
For example, I wanted to “do something” for my inlaws. So I segway. Their business is at 25 years old at that time, and they are still using an outdated inventory program. I know a friend who did coding, but he charged Php 70,0000 to Php 100,000 for it. I knew that price was reasonable, but how can I get my in-laws to upgrade and pay that amount of money?
I went through my husband’s business. My husband‘s business is 12 years old and still used Excel as his inventory system. 12 years na, no system pa din.
Instead of yakking at everyone, I “gifted” my husband’s business the inventory system for birthday and Christmas. Out of my own money.
When he saw how well it worked, I made sure I plugged that idea in into our dinner time conversation. I showed my excitement on how the program worked.
When my Parents-in-Law system died, they called me up. “Tina, do you still have the contact of the programmer you used for (Husband Name’s) system?”
I happily helped and made sure the system was done in a very smooth way. When their people and them saw how stable it was and how well it worked, my parents-in-law was happy. I was able to solve their problem without yakking about it unnecessarily.
Now, they always ask me for help and advice. They know that I’m capable of providing solutions when they need it. Ganoon lang ang pa impress kay big Boss. Hanap lang ng diskarte.
2. Show the subordinates your worth.
Do not just be the SOB (Son of boss). Prove yourself worthy as the successor of boss.
By being the go-to person who’s hands on in business. As in, pag nawala ka, patay na sila. If you are dispensable, then you have to pivot and be indispensable.
Earning respect of subordinates is also key.
Pinoys call it pakikisama. The biggest lesson I learned working in the Philippines is you need to know how to talk to people to get them to do what you want. If you order them around, you’re just the SOB. But if you are firm but fair, magaling pero humble, you become the Successor of Boss.
If you mentor them and help them do their job better AND GIVE RESULTS, they will see you as a leader. Otherwise, you’re just talk.
3. Prove yourself to be worthy to yourself.
You have to be honest with yourself. Are you really worthy to be the successor of a business? Did you earn your wings to manage the family’s business operations?
Ask yourself very honesty, so far, what’s your contribution to the business? Are there any improvement ? Did you help change the business? May results ba? Yes, I know it’s hard, but that’s our job, to make the business better.
Self reflection time: Only be judgmental if you’re the hardest working person in the busines. I work longer, do more stuff, and solve more problems. I don’t order my staff around; they see me doing it myself.
Last August 2019, I miscarried. After my D&C, I still went to work the day after. Upon seeing me in the office, my people forced me to go on maternity leave. Pinauwi nila ako. They asked me to go home. And they refused to move and work unless I go home because I needed the rest. One supervisor cried begging me to go home. Honestly, I was very touched.
My point is, dapat ang reputation mo, pinakamasipag ka.
You have to make the business your heart, mind and soul. You have to bear responsibility for your employees and their families. You have to really see that the business is the extension of you, and you cannot live without the business.
The business is more than a job. If you’re just like a Millenial 20 something who thinks this is just a job, it won’t work. You can’t half heart a family business.
Think of the business as a ship, and the owner the captain who steers it. All of the employees depend on the captain to steer the business to the right direction. Their families and livelihood is at stake.
Don’t blame the company if it’s not growing. It’s the father’s job to the best of his ability. It’s the son’s job to ensure it grows to the best of his ability.
As heir apparent, we should think of ways to make the business grow. Make sure everyone thinks that you’re so awesome, you become the second in command without anyone saying anything.
So prove your worth first.
The rest should follow.