In a world full of people complaining about their boss, you seem to have struck gold and actually have a manager or supervisor who helps you to progress rather than breathing down your neck all day. Therefore, when a holiday or their birthday rolls around, you want to give them a gift. Suddenly, you wonder whether this is really appropriate; does it fit into the corporate culture we seem to have developed? If you find yourself asking this question, you aren't alone so let’s take a look.
For many years, employees have felt a little unclear as to these rules because…well, there aren't any. Will the coworkers think you’re ‘sucking up’ to the boss? Will they be offended by the gift? Will it actually harm your career when all you were trying to do is say thank you? In our opinion, buying your boss a gift is absolutely fine as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
Find the Balance - When buying a gift for your boss, we believe the priority should be to find the balance between human touch and being appropriate. If you want to add something they’ll appreciate, make sure it’s appropriate otherwise it might just have the opposite impact to the one you originally intended.
Small or Practical - Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on an iPod because you know they like music, scale down your thoughts a little and go for a music-themed phone case, desk toy, or pair of socks. With small gifts like this, the message is clear; ‘thank you for being a great boss’. From every perspective including your coworkers and the manager themselves, you won’t have crossed any lines.
On the flip side, why not make the gift practical? If they go away on business trips quite often, for example, you could purchase aso their information remains secure regardless of where they work. Once again, the gift is small enough to be appropriate but it’s also related to work so it’ll actually help them when out and about. With this, it’s almost a way of saying ‘you’ve helped me with my job, here’s my attempt to help you with your job’. Along with this, you could also go for a clipboard, a mug for their coffee, or a fancy new pen.
Pay Attention to Their Likes - When talking to them outside of work hours, listen to what they like and what hobbies they have. Furthermore, you can look around their office to pick up some tips (don’t go foraging in their personal drawers!). If they talk about how they play golf at the weekend, a small bag of tees might be handy or a golfing glove.
Appropriate Timing - So far, we’ve discussed the appropriateness of the gift itself but what about the timing? As you can imagine, giving a gift just because you’re in a good mood isn't quite appropriate. If you’re new to the job and you want to say thanks for helping you to settle in and get started, a card will suffice. At Christmas and on their birthday, you can follow the guidelines above and buy a small or practical gift.
Pool Money/Ideas Together - Finally, if you really aren't sure of how a gift will be received by your boss and coworkers, why not ask everybody to donate a small amount and then buy a gift as one? Whether it’s the jersey of their favorite sports team or a new business jacket, a gift from the whole team will go down well because it makes the boss feel valued.
As long as you don’t step outside of these boundaries, you should be good to go and your working relationship won’t have to be ruined by a small present!