Today is Boss’s Day, and if you already knew that, condolences on your forced merriment and mandatory gift-giving. No matter how much you love your job or your boss, having a day once a year on which you’re required to recognize your manager just feels like an insult. After all, unless your situation is very unusual, your boss probably makes more money than you do. Should you really have to buy him or her a present as well?
“It’s time for us to retire Boss’s Day,” writes Alison Green at U.S. News. “Sorry, bosses. But as a manager myself, I know all too well that the day is, well, a crock. You probably know it too.”
Green lists several reasons why it’s ridiculous to expect employees with less power and money to reward employees with more of both, including inappropriate financial pressure and the fact that “obligatory appreciation doesn’t count for much.”
Other bosses agree.
“The dumbest idea I have ever heard of,” says Mark Stevens, author of Your Marketing Sucks. “It is my job, and that of every leader, to celebrate my team not to have them go through the motions of a Hallmark day for me.”
Of course, none of that helps you if your corporate culture dictates that you all chip in for a fruit basket. You won’t look like a hero by remaining aloof from the team thank-you.
That said, there’s a lot we can do for our bosses (especially the awesome ones) that really will express appreciation. These are all better than the best gift card pooled money can buy:
1. Take your one-on-ones seriously.
If you love your boss, chances are that he or she makes time to meet with you one-on-one. Make the investment worthwhile by coming to the table with a list of things you’d like to discuss.
A little preparation ahead of time can ensure that you’re using this time to meet your goals, keep your manager informed about your current progress and long-term aims, and just make sure you’re on the same page. If you’ve ever had an annual review that included feedback that was a total surprise, you already know the consequences of not communicating with your manager. Now’s your chance to make sure it never happens again — and using your boss’s time wisely is the best gift you could give them.
2. Plan for difficult conversations instead of springing them on your manager.
Maybe you deserve a raise, or you’re having problems with a teammate who isn’t pulling their weight, or you’re concerned about the direction a project is taking. Choosing a time and place to discuss these kinds of issues is essential. Spring them on your boss out of the blue, and you won’t get the best results … or endear yourself to management.
3. Forgive them for being human.
Even fantastic managers have times where they’re not running at 100 percent. When your boss has one, give them a break. The best leaders will come back to the team with an apology, or at least an opportunity to start from scratch. We all have bad days.
4. Trust them with tough feedback.
Of course, you don’t want to become the office Eeyore, constantly predicting doom and gloom at every turn, waiting for things to work out badly. But don’t let fear of being perceived as negative make you into a yes-person. If you see the potential holes in a plan, say so. You can be diplomatic and still prevent your boss from making a mistake that will cost them professionally. Just do your research, prepare your argument, and make sure that your heart is in the right place before you speak.
5. Say thank you.
Sure, good bosses shouldn’t need to hear constant praise from their reports … but a “thank you” now and then doesn’t hurt. If your boss has done an exceptional job supporting you and helping you achieve your goals, tell them so. They’ll appreciate it a lot more than they would a World’s Boss Boss mug.
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This post was updated from an earlier version previously published on PayScale.