Why Your Boss Is Your Most Important Customer

It's become a corporate truism that making the boss look good makes employees look good. Some pro advice on how to actually make this most important business relationship work.

Focus on the top
Focus on the top
Ines Temple*


SANTIAGO — Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch used to say that the subordinate's task was to make his or her boss "shine," and to ensure they would in turn look good before their superiors. Thus, says Welch, if our bosses see us as useful in their success, we are destined to rise with them.

This is what we always need to remember in successfully managing our professional careers. Our boss is crucial to our promotion, rise and future career, and not just because anyone wanting a reference on the quality of our work will always seek out his or her opinion.

Our task is to ensure that the boss feels and knows we are valuable to the organization. We are more employable when, besides knowing how to get on with other people, we have good chemistry with the greatest number of possible collaborators. With the boss, this chemistry is even more important. Why? Well, would you employ someone you really don't like or had trouble communicating with? Would you not give key projects to someone with whom you like to work, meet and exchange ideas? Would you promote someone you distrust?

And yet many people are mortified by the prospect of viewing their boss as a client. Boss-employee relations can always become delicate with issues such as unmet expectations, real or perceived injustices, little or no recognition. It is also common to find people taking unresolved personal issues to work: problems with authority, teenage rebelliousness and all kinds of problems with the boss figure. Others adopt the victim's position or needlessly confront the boss without measuring the consequences of their attitude. They expend energies on issues that contribute nothing to their work.

Remember: Nobody wants to work with someone they dislike, or who constantly projects a foul mood.

Far from proposing a servile or submissive attitude, I propose that while we may assume that both sides bear responsibility for the relationship, it is particularly in the employee's interest that it should flow and there be mutual trust and respect.

Which is why we need a political sense. That means knowing that you are working with, through and in alliance with people. It means understanding which are the power networks and how the organization works. Part of this heightened political sense is clearly understanding that your boss is your chief customer.

Obviously, there are situations we can choose, even if we rarely choose our boss. If we think the boss we work with is unethical, has no values, does not merit admiration and steals our merits, we can always try to be transferred within the organizaition or even change jobs.

It may sound impractical, but it is a real decision, because living with the misfortune of a bad boss is condemning yourself to working in a state of misery. And if we aren't happy at work, it will be dificult to bring value to the enterprise. Suffering a bad boss means sinking in a sipral of utter professional dissatisfaction. Few things are worse than being stuck in a work environment we hate.

* Inés Temple is president of the employment agency Lee Hecht Harrison DBM for Peru and Chile.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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