A reader writes:
We have a very small company, and I am part of the upper management. We typically recognize an employee during our monthly company meetings.
I would like to also recognize our bosses and provide them with a small gift. However, I understand that my coworkers and subordinates may not be financially capable or willing to donate. Would it be wrong of me to present a gift to the boss during our company meeting? I would not present it as this is from ME but this is from ALL OF US. Even if the others don’t know anything about it?
Yes, that’s weird. First, it’s not “from all of us” if no one even knows about it but you, and you may find others think it’s odd that you’re claiming they’re part of something that they’re entirely out of the loop on. (Do not solve this by getting them in the loop; the power dynamics here are such that people won’t be able to freely opt out, and so that’s not a solution.)
Second, your upper management doesn’t need gifts from the company, especially at a meeting where others are forced to sit and observe. That’s going to come across as self-congratulatory (if people believe the managers know about this in advance) or sucking up (if people believe it’s just coming from you).
In general, etiquette dictates that you don’t give gifts to your boss. It also dictates that managers should feel awkward about receiving them.
It’s nice that you want to recognize your managers. Do that by thanking them for whatever you appreciate about them, one-on-one. Skip the gifts and the public announcements.