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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Boss is Not Your Friend

Described as ‘A Handbook for Indian Managers to Survive All Things Organizational’ – Vijay Nair’s book manages to take a dig at organizations, bosses, subordinates, the work culture, and nearly everything that occupies space in an organization.

The Boss Is Not Your Friend by Vijay NairDrawing richly from management jargon and various organizational models drawn from business knowledge, Mr. Nair provides a read that is irreverent at some times, and hilarious at all times, but manages to capture your attention all the same.

There are many books by management ‘gurus’ and experts proclaiming modern organizations as fine examples of excellence, integrity, and what not. But, there are very few books that would take the dangerous stand of ‘Organizations are evil’. Moreover, who better than a person with a post-graduate diploma in HR and several years of experience as a consultant to tell us about organizations?

The author keeps in mind the long line of latest ‘incidents’ in corporate history – the Radia tapes, Enron, the Satyam fiasco and the Union Carbide disaster. He then builds on these to talk about what the motives of your organization are. What is your boss thinking? What does ‘it’ want from you?

Mr. Nair manages to modify management models and frameworks like Six Sigma and Maslow’s needs hierarchy (along with many others) and weave them into wildly funny and interesting ones. (Incidentally, you can’t help but relate to them as well.)

He lampoons organizational cultures and demands to know if organizations think of employees as plants and themselves as gardeners – ‘nurturing’ and ‘growing’ employees. In addition, he identifies some people who are at the core of evil – the HR managers and external consultants.

The six types of bosses that he has you identify using his Boss Labeling and Fixing Instrument make you wonder – about which type you fall under, and about which one your boss falls under. Comparing the HR managers to ‘dementors’ from the Harry Potter series is fairly apt too. After all, they often suck away happy feelings and leave just an empty shell of a person behind.

Probably, the idea behind the book is not to get too worked up about its contents (in case you are a dementor HR person or any other animal species described in the book). However, maybe the sarcastic tone of the book is a reminder to all of us who work in corporates, about how easy it is to go wrong, and become ‘it’ to our subordinates. At a deeper level, perhaps, it is a warning to the reader to not become an Oily Oyster or a Horny Harry.

The Boss is Not Your Friend is a book sprinkled lavishly with wit and humour. The current crop of corporate employees should be able to relate to this one, and have quite a few laughs reading it.

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4 comments:

Gurdit said...

Hmm...interesting. Sounds like a book that I should pick up sometime.

Roshmi Sinha said...

Nice review :)

Grayquill said...

At first I thought, I'm not reading that book, it will be way to convicting. But then the argument and allure of a possible belly laugh won me over. Good job. I'll watch for it. I'm always up for a good laugh.

SG said...

I haven't read this book, but honestly HR Managers as dementors is bit of a stretch. I feel they are more like squibs; born out of a desire to do some 'magic' with the human resources of organizations, but really not having the power to do it.

Interesting review, seems like a fun read at the least.