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I will talk to the Boss / Boss Has Told Me…

“Boss has told me” or “I have spoken to the boss” are some of those phrases that are excessively used in the corporate world.

Who uses it: This is a group of people with below average IQ level. Predominantly, these people are immature, uninformed, less-knowledgeable, incompetent, and usually non-performers. They are big bullies. In a common language these people are also referred as sycophants.

Why they use it: They are attention seekers. Nothing is easier to get the attention of your colleagues than to demonstrate your pseudo closeness with your boss. They try to hide their incompetence and non-performance by demonstrating unwanted and overtly care towards their reporting managers and diverting his or her focus from the core performance issues. In an attempt to demonstrate their closeness to the key-person(s) in the organization, they try to create various power-centers in the organization by exuding the message, “come to me, I will get your work done”.

If we look into the behavioral psychology, these are the kind of people, when they were growing-up they used to bully their siblings at home by saying, “I will tell Mom” or “I will tell Father” and later in school they began to use the phrase, “I will tell the teacher”. Therefore, it is obvious that these people when they moved to workplace, they rephrased it to “I will tell the boss or boss has told me”.

Let’s discuss more about it with a few elaborations.

In an organizational setup, one gets an opportunity to see and interact with all kinds of people. Some are attention seekers and will do anything to be visible (sometimes even an irritating and ridiculous act); some are rebels (they always do what they are told not to do); some are hard working and some are hardly the working kind of people; some are calm and many are very vocal about everything that they see, hear and feel; some always share their problems with everyone that they meet in the office and the rest are the frontrunners in giving free advises; so on and so forth. And then there is this category of employees who do not miss any opportunity to flaunt their proximity with their bosses. Every time they start a discussion; it begins with one of the following:

“I will tell the boss”,

“Boss has told me”,

“I have spoken to the boss”

“I had discussion with the boss”

“Boss has asked me to get ______ from you”

In this write-up we will throw some light on “I have spoken to the boss” kind of people. I do not remember the exact date or time, however, I believe that I began to observe and notice this category of people in the workplace and their behavior in the second half of last decade.

First Incident: The first time I came across such scenario was during the time when Mr. Ashish Nanchahal was my reporting manager. Or I must say that I was reporting to multiple heads at work location and in corporate office. Mr. Ashish has had good rapport with many senior managers more than that of the Head of HR, primarily because of the fact that he was one of the long-serving HR professional in the organization. Every time we have any discussion on any subject, he always used to begin with, “I have discussed this with the HR Head” or “CEO Sir has asked me to get this done” or “Mr. VP Operations want you to do this”. Initially, I never countered or cross-checked and on many occasions, during our weekly meetings he reversed his stand and put the blame on the others. Later on I began to cross-check his every instruction with the concerned person or department head and I realized that on many occasions, there was a huge communication gap. His communication with that person would always be different from his communication with me. What the other person would like him to get it done and what he communicates to me would always be different. On observing his behavior more closely, I realized that he has a sense of insecurity. He was of the opinion that if he won’t do what he is doing and if he don’t behave the way he does, he might lose his image. Probably he wasn’t aware that in his absence, people crib about him, bad mouth him and most importantly use him as a tool to divide the team and the department for their own benefit. When your seniors know that you are not a performer but rather a sycophant they begin to treat you as one and you begin to lose your own ground. You begin to doubt your own capabilities and skills.

Link to the Article:

Second Incident: When I met second such person, I was technically and logically prepared to face and counter such people. He was my colleague Mr. Ashish Kanungo. I believe it was the first time in his career, when he realized that probably, he is dealing with a difficult HR Department Head that he cannot con, intimidate, bully or use for his own advantage. As soon as he joined, he began to show his colors. On first occasion, someone from his department applied for leave and he directed that person to me. I said to that individual that as per the company and HR policies, he can take the leave; however, HR cannot approve his leave. His leave needs to be approved by the concerned department head, which is responsible for his deliverables and project deadlines. Later on, Ashish came to me to tell that he do not want to approve the leave of this person, however, he do not want to communicate it to the concerned person but rather want HR to communicate it to him. The reason that he gave is he does not want to spoil his relations with his team-members. He was planning to build his own team and inculcating team-spirit at the cost of HR. Now, because he knows that I am a difficult HR to deal with, so, every time that he would approach me, he begins the communication with, “I have already spoken to the CEO and CTO” or “CEO has asked me to inform you that”, etc. I told our CEO that this person is selling your name on the floor for his own advantage and that may affect the image of the management. Mr. CEO asked me to be careful in dealing with the requirements of Ashish.

Shared Responsibility (To be held accountable): As I grew in the company and in my career, I realized that the best way to handle such people is to make them accountable for everything that they say. In pre-economic reform era, companies have used memos to ensure proper flow of information and to enforce accountability. In an era when emails became a major mode of communication, it become a norm to not to accept any verbal or oral instructions or directions. If anyone comes and says that X, Y, Z has asked him or her to get something from you or to direct you to do some work for him or her, just ask that person to drop-in an email with copy to the concerned person. It has been observed that whenever you ask someone to send an email or give it in writing and make them answerable, many of them change their mind. Most often, people want to take a free bite and use the name of a senior and an influential person to get their work done. They want you to do the work for them and at the same time take the credit for the work done by you. Here, I like to share one more example. “Manager A” asked “Employee B” to do a certain work for him. “B” tried to do it for several days and when there was only ONE day left to submit the report to “A”, “B” asked “Employee C” to do it for her as she could not do it. Both “B” and “C” reports to “A”. “C” asked “B” to send an email to her with a copy to “A”. “B” refused to do so. It was apparent that “B” was trying to hide her incompetence and failure by passing on the responsibility to “C”.

Personality Analysis

It has been observed that those who use the name of their influential and fearsome seniors to get their work done are usually incompetent and indecisive people. They are non-performers and they have a sense of insecurity. They feel insecure about their job, and losing their reputation. They do not want to be held accountable and answerable for any of their decision or act; however, if the act gets a favorable response, they want to take credit for their initiatives, foresight and the success. Such people do not grow in their career and definitely cannot be an Entrepreneur or SBU Head or Member of Board. Boards need performers with a track record of outstanding performance, decision makers and risk takers to head important business units and profit centers.

Corporate Analysis

Companies that inculcate and encourage such culture and do nothing to curb it are the ones that crash-land before taking the flight. Such companies lack proper flow of information and the channel of communication become blurred.

This write-up is based on my personal corporate experiences, observations and research of last 10+ years. I believe that people should take responsibility for their work and be held accountable and answerable for everything that they take-up. Responsibility can be shared but the accountability lies with the concerned individual.

Kindly share your thoughts and opinion on this write-up.

Link to the Article:

From the desk of Sanjeev Himachali

Email: ;

BLOGS:; and

Disclaimer: This write-up is based on true incidents. All Names, and characters, are either the product of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
4th April 2011 From India, Mumbai
Hello Sanjeev,
Even I had experienced this incidence several times and always wanted to know the fact.
I also had the same opinion. Now I am relaxed that my findings are somewhat correct.
As I am working in a medium sized manufacturing unit I come across such situations often.
Thanks a lot for your post.
6th April 2011 From India, Mumbai
This great thing that you have mentioned a person Ashish, Like this person in many of organizations there we can found person with this behavior easily, it the fault of there's mentality less confident , this result in to feeling of insecurity so they behave like above explained.
Precaution should be taken while dealing with these kind of person And cross checking is the best way for it..!
Thanks for the post .
22nd January 2013 From India, Mumbai
HI Sanjeev,
I do agree with what you said. Even I had the same kind of experiences before.
I feel that, the Bosses also should monitor & counter check (which is not happening in many of the cases) with his/her teammates who actually performs / executes the task. End of the year when the time comes these people remains unrecognized and this leads to job dissatisfaction.
22nd January 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Accountability point is true for so many people.
I am working as HR in a small firm and we give considerations to all. Before I joined in though there were office hours, there wasn't scrutinity and checking.
One of the person in office stays pretty far and has permission from our president that he can be allowed in without a late mark upto 10.30 am.
He used to take it liberally and enter post 11.20 or so. When I started marking him late continuously and warned him repeated late marks would lead to salary cuts, he was cribbing his problem to me and all difficulties he'd face to come to office.
I told him to send me a mail on this and mark a CC to our president, then I can grant you to come in late. In stead of doing so, now he is coming on time.
Make people accountable for what they do and say. And then they'd start doing it the right way.
22nd January 2013 From India, Mumbai
Hi All

I agree to what Mr.Sanjeev has pointed out but i would also like to share a point i feel about this... For some situations, i felt the employees are likely to perform when its said that, their boss has asked them to do it... Can happen when the age or position meets with ego...

I can give an example which i have faced at my early career.For a function when all the employees were supposed to take part and perform for any programs.Myself, being the junior HR was assigned to coordinate. I was trying and asking all of them to participate and give the names . To my surprise...all were showing faces and attitude telling "we can't" but then i realized..this was because i was junior to them and so they cannot listen...Since i was assigned with the task ...i didn't want to give up ....i wrote a list of programs and the names of the employees whom i felt are good for that and showed them directly and told them..."Your boss gave me the list".....None of them uttered a word and all agreed..and must say...they did it well....

I felt they had an ego issue of listening to their juniors....and when the name of their boss came... they couldn't reject.
23rd January 2013 From India, Kochi
Hi All,
I completely agree with Jeena as even I face this type of situation.
I work with a supplier company in the HR department. Even though I am from the HR department there are people who do the work if there boss's name is mentioned before giving them the task.
Is there any way of getting work done by such type of people without mentioning the names of the boss?
23rd January 2013 From India, Pune
Excellent Write up and observation. We, HR Professional, are custodian of organizational behaviour. We deal with Human Capital towards organizational Development with the business objective.
Human Behaviour is So dynamic and critical to handle.
23rd January 2013 From India, New Delhi
dear all,
what sanjeev has informe is 100% ture, and most of the people uses such phrases only to finish the things too urgent or else to inform the employees i am a right hand to boss.
we can such type of professionals every where in the world in the corporates, and even what i observed is they will haunt the emmployees in such a way those who will fear to take the risk to conversate with boss, and they will try to have a authority on the subbordinates,
thabks for your input, and it was a too nicedear,
24th January 2013 From India, Bangalore
Firstly I appreciate the experiences shared by Sanjeev. While we relate to every experience shared by him as most of bump into such kind of people at every workplace.
I also appreciate Jeena and Samprada bringing out another aspect of this kind of behaviour. I would'nt call people who use such tactics for valid reasons as indecisive or insecure.
Please understand there is always 2 sides to a coin. If I am not mistaken even when we at times inform employees to send mail regarding any exceptions to be made with a copy marked to seniors/their boss we too are subtly instilling the fear of the senior into their mind to have our way.
I feel every situation is unique and the individual too. I completely agree there are many who misuse the Boss/Senior influence to get their way but there are some who do use it for the right reasons which will be good for the individual, team and the organisation
24th January 2013 From India, Pune
A very nice article which has come out so descriptive and elaborate narrating peoples behavior at work place using their seniors name to get things done which is an act to hide their incompetence.
25th January 2013 From India, Bangalore
I second Gianim here. It's not always the same but required at times. Here I would say what if your boss is of the kinds who always get the bad things done on your name & the good things on his? HR is a bridge which connects the employees to the management & most obviously is used & misused too for the same.
We must beware of such people but judging them on this would not be right. Every person & position has various responsibilities which are above your relation with the colleagues, juniors & seniors.
Mr. Sanjeev has rightly put forth a case study from his own experiences & we all must contribute so that we can get well equipped to face such situations & evaluate the situation, problem & the reaction aptly & then work on it.
Your contribution is appreciated Mr. Sanjeev.
25th January 2013 From India, Chandigarh
Dear Sanjeev Your article is an eye opener as how we shlould deal with people in the corporate world, and it is true everywhere irrespective of the size of the company.
25th January 2013 From India, Hyderabad
Very informative and honest article.
Along with such cases there is a slightly different behaviour but belonging to same class. Here the subbordinate is incompetent so becomes a complete yesman and behaves like a minion to Boss.ONLY THIS WAY HE CAN SURVIVE. and trust me I have seen even very seasoned Managers falling into this psychophancy trap.
BUt this behaviiour eventually spoils the culture wherein, now everybodys becomes pleasing rather than sincere. There is no conrstructive questioning. Such organisation find it difficult to grow.
Pls share your thoughts on this as well.
25th January 2013 From India, Chandigarh
I started a thread with a aim to educate individuals on ACCOUNTABILITY & RESPONSIBILITY. I had come across many employees of such attitude as they are habitual buttering up their bosses to get their things done. I knew that they are not competent but still bosses love to work with such professionals....
Its difficult to get rid of such individuals...and i don't think so, HR can do something to bring relevant changes because certain HR professionals itself are practicing such attitude just to safe guard their job....i feel really pity on them.
With profound regards
27th January 2013 From India, Chennai
Hello Sanjeev Sir,
In deed, your write-up has brought forth the work culture which is followed in many places.
I would like to add to your write-up that Boss should also put some efforts to communicate the right thing to the right person.
At times the situation is such that the entire world is told about some thing and the HR is not even considered to be in the Communication Loop.
Anyways, Thank you for such a explosive case-studies.
30th January 2013 From India, Bangalore
Hi all,
I'm also experienced such situations many times, for that I was decided that if such situation were confront to me I tried to say them "Me to also spoke to Mr. MD or CEO, but he replies to me that "i wont said anything about this work to anybody" like that I was given answer to them...........
2nd February 2013 From India, Visakhapatnam
Dear All,
These kind of employees are always found in any organisation, as they are having fear to loose the job that's why they are behaving like this.
One should tell them & make them understood that they are at the position which needs some accountability & responsibility.Its tough to make them understood about same but not impossible.
Good day Everyone
22nd February 2013 From India, Kanpur
Excellent observation mostly these are the buttering tools and many boss also prefer such type of people ultimately they are harmful for organization and problem creator.
4th March 2013 From India, New Delhi
Hi Sanjeev,
Very well written. The organizations are filled up with such persons. They neither want to take responsibility nor want other to come forward and take the responsibility. On the contrary they are are always afraid of such smart and proactive colleagues. Needless to say these people always behind being closer to the SBUs and Management. They leave no opportunity to pull the right candidates.
Thanks and regards,
Sharad Mali
6th March 2013 From India, Mumbai
Nice thing are shared, m as an fresher in HR , will help all this suff to grow in Hr without much difficulty, Thanks for sharing your experinece............... Thanks & regards Vinita Dhavade
6th March 2013 From India, Mumbai
It is one of the difficult task we are doing. HR is most important part of the any office. He is like a bridge between employee and the boss.
8th March 2013 From India, New Delhi
Dear All,
I am working in company where i am the first HR and i facing the same type of problem...and few employees who are working for long in company just because the boss has good relations with them they doesn't follow time and come late.....even if boss has assigned them certain task they want others to do that...
16th March 2013 From India, Thana
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