October 11, 2013
Thanks, Boss: Observe Boss's Day without inducing groans
Wednesday, Oct. 16, is Boss’s Day. Many bosses probably aren’t even aware of it, while others cringe at obligatory recognition (isn’t every day Boss’s Day?).
If your boss or manager has been supportive, opened doors or helped you grow, the occasion offers a welcome opportunity to simply say thank you, in any way that feels authentic to you. Here are a few guidelines and ideas.
Mean what you say
Your thanks are only as good as they are genuine. Handwrite a note on a simple thank-you card or stationery, and mention something specific for which you’re grateful. Remember, bosses may wonder if they’re doing a good job just as much as anybody else.
“A note of appreciation for something I have done for an employee that has had a positive impact would be pretty awesome,” says Johanna Lindsay, vice president of programs at The Arthritis Foundation in Seattle.
Keep it simple
You don’t have to buy a card, and you don’t have to be effusive. Keep it short and sweet. "An email that said, ‘Happy Boss’s Day -- thanks for looking out for us,’ would be just about perfect," says Jeremy Syme, a director at Attunix Corporation, a software and services company in Bellevue.
You don’t have to buy a gift. In fact, many managers are uncomfortable with employees spending money on them. Both sides are aware of the power imbalance and differences in income.
If you feel compelled to recognize your boss with more than a card, don’t overspend. “Anything expensive would feel inappropriate and weird,” says Lourdes Orive, a director at Microsoft in Redmond. “Keep it simple — a token of appreciation versus a full-on gift.”
For the right token, it helps to know your audience. “Once, a person on my team gave me a six-pack of Diet Coke as a thank-you for helping her with a project,” says Erin Evans, a senior director at Affinion Group, a customer-engagement company in Nashville, Tenn. “I like small, meaningful, ‘you know what I like’ kinds of recognition.”
Make it a group effort
If you’re wary of appearing to be a brownnoser, get together with your colleagues to do something for your boss as a team. Have everyone sign a card. Frame a photo of the team and ask your co-workers to sign the mat board. Organize a potluck breakfast as a surprise, or take the boss out to lunch; a group effort shares the credit and the bill.
In a city like Seattle, you can never overestimate the value of coffee. Bring in your boss’s favorite brew in the morning, or pick up a fancy latte. Invite the boss out to coffee as a group, or give a gift card to a favorite destination.
If you decide to make it Take Your Boss to Lunch Day, make it easy on your boss and your pocketbook, too. You choose the spot, since you’re the one extending the invite. Pick a casual, inexpensive option, such as a food truck. Seattlefoodtruck.com lists options by neighborhood, cuisine and day of the week.
Keep it personal
A homemade gift that reflects something personal can be thoughtful. Make an impression by bringing flowers from your backyard. Pick up a copy of that book you mentioned to your boss. Bake cookies or share zucchini relish from a family recipe.
but not too personal
“I received a mug with my face on it that says ‘World’s Best Boss’ and can’t help but question the sincerity,” jokes Sarah Redgrave, director of human resources at a retailer in Bellevue. Boss’s Day is not a roast; don’t try to be clever or funny. Simple and sincere is best. Try to steer clear of anything that feels forced or overdone.
What about the bad boss?
Boss’s Day was created to thank bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year. Even if your boss does not meet these criteria, you can still take the opportunity to reset your relationship. It never hurts to be nice -- especially to the boss.
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