How to recognize your own manager?
November 6, 2011 7:31 PM   Subscribe

What is an appropriate gift or recognition for a great manager?

I have a great boss who manages about a dozen people. He is always supporting us, advocating for us, giving out recognitions and rewarding us for accomplishments. Also very technically skilled.

I'm leaving to go on a temporary assignment, and I would like to find some way to recognize him. But I don't want to come across as a kiss-ass. He does determine my performance evaluation and that obviously affects my pay, so I don't want to do anything that will make it look the wrong way.

Is it appropriate to give a gift? What about a card? Usually in my workplace it's acceptable to send a note to someone's supervisor if they perform well, but in this case, his supervisor is also ultimately mine. What if I involve a few other people, or do I need to try to get EVERYONE involved? Or is my performance for the group supposed to be its own reward?
posted by ista to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had a great manager at my last job. *After* I left the company I sent him a handwritten card with a heartfelt expression of my gratitude for the great job he'd done being my manager. He emailed me later and told me how much the card had meant to him and that he had kept it in his pocket through some tough meetings. He was fairly new to being a manager when I joined his team and I think I was among the first of his staff to ever leave the group, and I don't think he got a lot of feedback on his work, so mine was very meaningful.

I can't see any way you can do this while you still work at the same company, though. I think it would almost certainly make him feel weird or suspicious. However, I spent the last 6 or so months of my job composing the card I was going to send him (I already had some thoughts about leaving) so by the time I actually left the company I had a great letter with lots of examples, anecdotes, etc about the great team he'd built and the loyalty we felt to one another.

I think this is a great thing to do - it keeps you focused on your manager's positives through the hard times and I think it means the card comes across as more genuine since it's hard evidence rather than empty platitudes. However, I feel I should repeat that I didn't feel comfortable giving my manager this card until I was no longer working with him and he had no power over my pay, bonuses, etc, and I think that's good policy.
posted by troublesome at 7:39 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't try to get everyone involved because there is no guarantee that everyone likes your boss as much as you do. I also think it would be a little strange to get him a gift out of the blue. If it were me, I would just get him a particularly nice Christmas gift, with a card expressing how glad you are that he is a great boss.

Then again, my wife is my boss, so take my advice with regard to management with a grain of salt!
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:39 PM on November 6, 2011

I'd say that if you were staying for a while, organizing a holiday gift would be your best bet. In this case, a well written and considerate note would be your best option. Giving a gift sounds a bit too inappropriate here.

You should consider a short but honest note to his supervisor that has a tone similar to, 'hey, I'm taking a temporary assignment and wanted to let you know what a great supervisor X has been before I leave. Here's a specific example why:'

This way, you're creating a warm welcome for your return and thoughtfully acknowledging your supervisor.
posted by glaucon at 7:40 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I would write your manager a heartfelt personal note, and also send a praisegram to his manager. He gets performance reviews too, and a positive note from one of his staff with specific examples could really benefit him.

(Of course his supervisor is yours too--so what? I don't really get the concern that it will look improper. Bribing him would be improper. IMO, thanking/praising him for good work is simple kindness and reciprocity. Plus, your positive feedback improves your company culture by helping ensure that good management is recognized.)
posted by ottereroticist at 8:12 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

A personal note will be greatly appreciated. Positive feedback to his manager with specific examples of what he has done well and can continue doing well for his entire team (not just for you) is the best gift you can give (and so often not done by direct reports, alas, since they think a personal thanks is good enough, and it should be but, hey managers get judged all the way to the top).
posted by girlhacker at 9:51 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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