You 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.