How Do I Communicate Appreciation to My Boss?

August 28, 2023 9:52 am Published by

Many front-line employees, and even supervisors, have concerns about communicating appreciation to their boss or those higher up in the organization – mainly for fear of looking like they are trying win favor or look good. While showing appreciation can be utilized in this way, most employees need not be concerned. Why? Because, over time, one’s true colors and intent will become evident.

One occasion where these concerns come to the fore is Boss’s Day (celebrated on October 16th). At Appreciation at Work, we encourage people to communicate authentic appreciation year-round, but we also understand that this particular day can cause some stress. Here is our advice for how to handle Boss’s Day (and can also be applied throughout the year).

The key questions, if you are an employee, are: 1) Should I do something for my boss? 2) If so, what? 3) How do I keep from looking like I am just sucking up to them? 

Let us give you a quick way to think through these decisions.

  1. It would be good to do something for your boss if you do appreciate something about them, and/or if you want to improve your relationship with them. If there is nothing you like about your boss or if you are in the midst of major conflict, pass. It is better to do nothing than to go through the motions and try to fake it.
  2. What should you do? It is largely up to you. What would feel genuine coming from you? How much time, energy or money do you want to invest in the process? Generally, it is better to do a little something that is meaningful (either to you, or to them) than to do some action that looks like it is for show. Most people value an action that seems to have taken some time and thought (rather than the last “Happy Boss’s Day” card from the grocery store) and has to do with them personally.
  3. How to not look like you are just trying to impress them. Take some time and identify either: a) a character quality you value that you see in your boss; b) an action they completed that impacted you positively; or c) something about your boss that you respect. Then get a card, make a card, get a small gift of something they like and attach a card – and just tell them thanks for … a, b or c above. It doesn’t have to be long, life-changing, or super fancy (your writing should be legible – especially your signature).

Another option is to go together with one or more colleagues and get your boss a card or gift as a group — in fact, you could initiate and ask if anyone wants to go in with you. That makes it less focused on you. Finally, do not, under any circumstances, make a reference (even in joking) to “don’t forget me at bonus time” or something equally offensive. This is about your appreciation for them, not about getting a payback at some point in the future.

Remember, bosses are people, too. Hearing that others value what they are doing or a character quality they demonstrate can be extremely encouraging to anyone.


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August 28, 2023 9:52 am

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