Etiquette Questions, Answered: Holidays and Gifts
What’s the Etiquette of Gift-Giving to Supervisors?
Q. When I was a manager, I felt uncomfortable receiving gifts from the people I supervised. I always felt that gifts should
go down the chain of command, not up. Am I wrong?
A. In my first job out of college, I wasn’t sure if I should get my three supervisors a holiday gift. I decided to err on the side of caution and bought each a little something. I’ll never forget the debilitating awkwardness in their offices as I sat there for what felt like an eternity, watching each one open the present, muttering, “Oh, you shouldn’t have” and “Well, now I feel bad that I don’t have anything for you.” As soon as I had delivered all my gifts, I vowed to never do it again. Still, there will always be those who like to give gifts to people they work closely with, no matter the hierarchy. So as uncomfortable as it may feel to you to receive a gift from someone you supervise, try to be appreciative and positive, and look at it as a rare time for your underling to get to call the shots.
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