Is your boss your customer?

by Ashvini on December 18, 2012 · 4 comments

in Leadership

I read an interview where someone said that a boss should be treated like a customer by his or her subordinates.

I find it difficult to understand that despite so much democratization of the workplace, these kinds of thoughts still exist. When I got a job through campus placement, I had very few choices, one or maximum of three companies. Then there was a recession for a very small period and then the jobs boomed. Due to globalization and outsourcing, we never had it better. Closed Indian economy was slowly turning towards wave of globalization. Individuals were having far more say in their career than they did. It worked both for employees, their bosses and so on.

The boss-subordinate culture may have worked in industrialization era. However the dominance of being a boss is rapidly diminishing. The reason is the rapid increase in new technologies, rise of the start-ups and more workplace opportunities. A youngster often may have more knowledge than his superiors in new technology.

Today’s workplace is about collaboration. An individual or a group of individuals can make far more business impact than a large business unit. A well placed and trained team is aware of the market and competitive conditions. For example, if you run a business that has a website and your competitor has website and a mobile application to match, it is more likely that your competitor is going to be perceived as a better technology player. For your company to be highly successful, you need teams that work collaboratively and with speed. And for such teams, there cannot be hierarchies, only mutual respect.

Managers are needed to provide accountability and to perform administrative jobs but more than they leadership and motivation propel the teams forward. That means boss-subordinate line needs to be blurred and a relationship based on mutual understanding and respect needs to be redrawn. While older boss with his vision can guide a youngster, the youngster can bring his or her energy towards completing team objective.

There is really no need for artificially induced customer-supplier relationship.


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Sandra December 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I have trouble accepting this. If the boss is a complete ass (forgive my language) he should be treated as one. I’m all for the ‘the customer is always right.’ thing but on this case I don’t think it applies.

Kelly December 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Sadly, many employers look at their bosses as if they were monsters; however, I believe that things should start to change by now. We should see them as our beloved customers, right and worthy of respect. I love your blog! :D Thanks a lot for sharing this with us!

Adrienne December 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I don’t know if I exactly agree with that or not Ashvini.

Okay, I’ve been out of the workforce for over five years now and just thinking about the business I was in before that, nope… Of course my boss was the owner of the company and it sure wouldn’t have changed the way he behaved or acted. Let’s just say he was a big jerk.

Something to think about though and in the service industry is might benefit some. Others probably not so much.


Ashvini Kumar Saxena December 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Hi Adrienne,

Thanks for your comment. I totally appreciate your point of view. I am of the opinion that in times like today, working with a modern cross border workforce, the role of boss is to be like an enabler. Unfortunately many bosses do not have the skills or training to do that. Thus the old mindset continues.

Hope you are having a great day. I really appreciate your comment and apologize for late reply :).

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