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June 6, 2011

Book Review - 33 : The Boss is NOT Your Friend

Author: Vijay Nair
Publisher: Hachette India

Are you appalled by the latest Radia revelations about your corporate heroes? Sick of the'nurturing' talent like tiny plants' spiel doled out by most management manuals? Wondering why they never acknowledge the ugly truth about success: that the trick is either to use your cunning and flattery to rise to the ranks of those who lay down the rules, or at least learn how to massage the egos of the rule makers?

The book is disguised as a candid, hands-on guide to surviving in the Indian corporate world, complete with questionnaire to help you identify the particular malevolent subspecies your boss can be classified under - The Oily Oyster, The Vicious Viper, The Flattering Fraud, The Crafty Conman, The Burly Bastion, and The Horny Harry. The description of each of these bosses and the back story attached to it is extremely practical and relevant. It clearly spills out the "unhidden truths" that management gurus are always skeptic to reveal openly. Without taking any names, it takes pot-shots at big corporate honchos and literally pans out the drawback of Indian organisational structure. And as the tag-line suggests, "It is a handbook for all managers to survive all things organisational".

What fascinated me most about the book is that it delineates itself with minor details of every day work. It explicitly puts out the feelings of most employees who works for big corporates - How an employee is treated more as a bonded labourer rather than someone who genuinely contributes for work? How an employee should maintain distance with boss/colleagues and keep the matters strictly professional? How an employee should never reveal the plans of moving to another company or higher studies to the management? How an employee should deal with appraisal meetings and the resulting consequences of it?

All this is not new, but the approach to deal with each of the issues is revolutionary and indeed refreshing. Interspersing contemporary issues with practical examples, it spells out the do's and the dont's of working in a corporate world. Working with a basic premise - "All organisations are evil"; it shows the ugly side of the corporations and take big digs on various management books and the people who pen them down only to promote their own company's sham values and cultures. The book even venture out in times of recession and shows how the organisations decides to cut the employees rather than cut profits, quite contrary to their bogus vision statement who claims to nurture employees.

I personally found the questionnaires to be too long; something which can be skipped without destroying the essence of the book. The two 'summary' case studies at the end of the book are bit of self-indulgence and could have been edited out. They are well written, but made the same points all over again giving you a feeling of emotional repetitiveness. It also tends to get a little too academic while describing the management theories and their effects on the employees. Anyone who is exposed to these corporate jargons can safely skip them.

I am going with 3/5 for Vijay Nair's, The boss is NOT your friend. It does get a little filmy and OTT while making suggestions about how to deal with 6 type of bosses, but makes some pertinent points about what is SO wrong with Indian companies in these times. Read it on a day when you are pissed off by work or boss or both, and you will enjoy it even more. It's tough to be different, and it's tougher to do it right being different. The book manages to achieve that in best form of the word.

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


wanderer said...

Yes, I agree with you on the filmy part...the narrations of incidents are often boarding the novel like appeal. Even I found it hard to classify the perfect genre for this book.

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Sakshya said...

Read it on a day when you are pissed off by work or boss or both, and you will enjoy it even more. . ha ha ha ha .. That was the most interresting line in the whole review.. lolzz..