Soriano: Parents’ Letter to their Distraught Son (Part 2)

·3 min read

This is part 2 of the letter of the parents to their distraught and entitled adult son.

Dear Son,

You mentioned that the lack of interest to engage in dialogue left you feeling very confused about the future of the business and your role in it. However, there were countless times that you were invited to join these meetings but I sensed that you were quiet and never got to participate in it. If you recall five years ago, I even communicated to the family my desire to step back when I reach my 70th birthday. I know I have made some promises in the past about my retirement but major market changes required my intervention primarily to allay the fears of our creditors and suppliers. But this time, I can confidently say I am ready to step back. I am 68 now and expect that within the next two years, someone needs to assume the leadership role. I also communicated options depending on you and your siblings’ readiness state, and my option was to either pass on leadership to a family member that is committed and qualified or bring in professionals as interim heads to run the business.

To express how serious I was in this planned transition, I even emailed everybody to accelerate the handover where you and your siblings can take on leadership positions of various business units. Everybody was excited that finally a transition was being laid out. Your mom and I are at a loss why you still feel confused, as the whole point of those exchanges was to provide clarity and address these transition issues directly.

You also mentioned that there has been an absence of timely direct and accurate feedback. Informally, we have attempted to give you feedback via messages and emails on several occasions. However we found you either ignored the feedback or chose not to participate in the feedback process. We also noticed that you do not reply to your subordinates or other managers. Son, we are aware of these lapses. That is why we decided to formalize a performance review process as part of the two-year transition plan. Sadly, we have observed and confirmed by the HR head that after the KRA’s were introduced, you decided not to pursue and even chose to withdraw from the quarterly business review (QBR). This action smacks of entitlement and your co-managers sensed it as nepotism. Regardless of how you look at it, it was unacceptable especially with someone carrying our family name.

Regarding the lack of open communication over the years, we acknowledged this has been an ongoing issue for some time. We believe we can both do more to address this. We have always wanted more open and honest communication with you, but we have always found it difficult to speak openly with you because of your sensitivity to feedback, and at times, your emotional immaturity. There were many occasions where you disrespected me and your mom and it reached a point that your other siblings and some executives avoided you. Because of your stubborn nature and your non-cooperation on many projects, your divisional performance continued to deteriorate. Being more open is something we hope to improve on moving forward. We hope this is something you can understand from our point of view and hope this is something you can improve on moving forward as well.

You also point out that you feel there is a lack of trust and that we have bypassed you on some of the major projects. We acknowledged that there is truth to what you expressed but I want you to remember this always, trust is something that is important in any working relationship. It must be earned and it is never given by virtue of birthright. Trust and integrity have made our family successful and these values are something that I expect my children to embrace.

To be continued...

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