Gifts for the boss that won’t cost you a cent

October 17 was Boss’s Day in the United States. The day has been celebrated since 1958 when secretary Patricia Haroski registered National Boss’s Day with the US Chamber of Commerce. Haroski, who worked for an insurance company in Illinois, decided a special day was needed for employees to show their appreciation for the “hard work and dedication of their supervisors” and to “improve intra-office relationships between managers and their employees”.

The day is now celebrated as far afield as the US, Canada, South Africa, India and, apparently, Australia. However, the day is not universally popular. US management blogger Alison Green writes: “It’s time for us to retire Boss’s Day. Sorry, bosses. But as a manager myself, I know all too well that the day is, well, a crock.”

But HR consulting firm Development Dimensions International has taken a more positive view of Boss’s Day. Instead of presenting the boss with gifts that come with a bow, DDI this year suggested five gifts that will “make them a better leader”. DDI conducted a survey of managers that found “some surprising ways employees can make the leaders they appreciate more successful, engaged and likely to stay”. The gifts come in the shape of “skills, feedback and enriched conversations that will keep on giving”. It’s too late for Boss’s Day, but DDI’s “gift” ideas have a long shelf-life.

So, according to DDI, here’s what your boss really wants for Boss’s Day, or in fact, any day of the year.

More feedback: Only 17% of managers feel their employees take an active interest in the contribution they make to the organisation; 83% wish they had more feedback from staff about what would make their job more interesting and fulfilling

Have a plan: Your manager holds your career development in their hands, but they need to know what your career aspirations are so they can work with you on a plan to make it happen; 89% of managers say they are always on the lookout for opportunities to develop their employees.

Quality time: Managers want to spend more time directly with their employees on such activities as coaching, “collaboratively innovating” and celebrating successes.

When giving is receiving: The best managers have a wealth of experience and skills that employees can tap into. Many of these can be observed daily, but good managers who have an interest in developing their staff will often be open to sharing those skills on a deeper, more personal level. DDI says 43% of managers want more opportunities to practice interaction skills. Approaching your boss for mentoring or coaching will probably make his or her day and contribute to your own career development.

Please don’t go: If you’ve got a boss you want to hang on to, chances are you hold some of the levers that will induce him or her to stay. A team that is motivated, driven, communicative, creative and open to new ideas can provide a stimulating environment that will keep a manager interested, and your job interesting

Leo D’Angelo Fisher
Leo is a business journalist, author and commentator, and was former associate editor with BRW.
TWITTER @DAngeloFisher