“The Boss Is Not Your Friend”: Book Review

The Boss Is Not Your FriendYou may call it cynical. Or even extremist. But one thing that Vijay Nair’s newest offering –  “The Boss Is Not Your Friend” – unfailingly achieves for the reader is an entertaining read. Ask any one of the million “resources” of an organization if he thinks his boss is God’s gift from heaven. Depending on the behavioural disposition of the questioned, you may be chided and clucked or made the laughing-stock of all onlookers.

While the book, in its claim of equipping Indian managers with tools “to survive all things organizational”, doesn’t bring forth any startling revelations or dictate pathbreaking norms, it does tell you a pertinent thing or two about the corrupt machinations of the corporate world.

Arranging his treatise in neat chapters with delightfully alliterative names such as “Banging the Boss” and “Taming the Team Member”, Nair walks you through the whole process of securing your foothold in a firm where everyone else is more ambitious than the last person you met. His initial declarations sometimes do seem over-simplified. For instance, he proceeds to substantiate his “Corporations are evil” hypothesis by aligning it with the feeling of possession that an evil spirit unleashes on a victim. Too fantastic? Interestingly, as more chapters unfold, we realize that such oversimplifications are but fringe-like starting points for driving home several practical hometruths.

What is my boss?
Where does it come from?
Why does it behave the way it does?

One of the high points in Nair’s handbook comes with the BLFI (or the Boss Labelling and Fixing Instrument). With assistance from a neat little multiple-choice quiz, we can slot our vile boss into one of six esteemed categories. Nair of course, does not stop at identification but deals out specific “digmas” for each category…doctrines that can “dig” out the truth and show us the light. Even for an outsider to the corporate world, the “fictional” case studies – without arduous figures, names and statistics – can be interesting food for thought.

An intrinsic part of the white-collared world himself, Nair deserves a thumbs-up for his hilarious allusions and examples. Though he incorporates traditional management lessons such as Maslow’s Needs Theory and the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), his twists to the conventional are immensely readable.

…”The CMM model is one more of those organizational frameworks that talk of the impossible.”…

Not stopping at the boss, Nair proceeds to tell the reader that it is equally important to tame other lurking creatures such as persevering HR Managers, ever informative outsiders (read consultants) and CEOs who swear by the lofty Mission, Vision and Culture statements of the organization.

In a book-o-sphere that brings out books on management by the score, “The Boss Is Not Your Friend” attempts to curtail its contemporaries by its use of catch-all phrases, witty language and a lingering undercurrent of violation. Nair’s trip slashes through long-taught principles of loyalty to your karmabhoomi, replacing pedantic ideas with smarter and stealthier ideals. The last case study, though, dilutes the effect to an extent by abruptly focusing on how trapped, at the end of the day, a management “resource” actually is. Perhaps he wants to have us believe that had the poor soul landed a copy of his book, his life could have painted a prettier picture.

While never path-breaking and certainly not too literal in the various solutions offered, “The Boss Is Not Your Friend” can be your interesting initiator to the often chaotic world of organization.



This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

35 thoughts on ““The Boss Is Not Your Friend”: Book Review

  1. Pingback: The Engineering Train: Book Review « Saddi Delhi

  2. Very good review here Debosree!! I might just buy this book for my 2 day train journey next week. Seems like a decent read and humorous too. Btw loved the way you have handled the review section. Even i have registered for this program some weeks ago, but the team didnt revert back on this to me. dunno why!

    • Thanks a lot Sauvik! 😀 Yeah, if you want a casual and funny ‘corporate’ read, you might enjoy it.
      The program @ Blogadda is pretty interesting… I am sure they will get back to you in a bit; when they have fewer copies they do some shortlisting. There are more books coming up. 🙂

  3. Ummm someone had to write the book – “the boss is not your friend” for us to know that??? Lol…i could have told u that for free.

    Great review though and no i wont be picking up the book coz i KNow the boss aint me pal!

  4. Read the book…pretty average writing I must say…too negative…a failed professional rambling about past bosses and getting even? Sadly for the writer does not matter to anyone!!!!

    • Hello Chetan.
      Yes, the ‘getting even’ angle persists through the book. Though he tries to make sure Nair the manager does not weigh the narrative down, but of course it is common knowledge that his ‘solutions’ are more in jest than in practicality.

  5. That seems to be an interesting book. I know for a fact that the boss is not my friend 🙂 But I never knew that an entire book was written to shed light on this topic 🙂 I’ll try to read it 😀

    • I am sure you’ll find this interesting reading given you already have the facts right Chhavi. 😀
      Books these days are getting more and more specific. 😀

  6. Hi,

    This is wonderful. It may tickle you but I was actually wishing I could get my upcoming novel reviewed by you. I had already planned of writing to you and requesting you to let me send my book to you 😀 My only doubt was whether you’d be interested. Now, that’s cleared too. And btw, just yesterday I registered at blogadda. I was thrilled to see its review service. Now I’m even more thrilled!

    • Hey Jyoti. 🙂
      Wow… hearty congratulations on your new book! Needless to say I truly appreciate your thinking of me in that regard. 😀 I’d love to review your book – what’s it about?
      Yep, the Blogadda program is really cool that way: what’s better than free books delivered at your doorstep?

  7. very well written review! Now I can safely say that I am sure not to pay for the book but might read it for fun in case I get it 🙂 Thanks for writing this.

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