I’m in trouble for pushing back on a Boss’s Day gift collection

A reader writes:

A few weeks ago, on Boss’s Day, one coworker had initiated a boss day gift for our director, and made an executive decision to get a $50 cake and flowers without soliciting any of our input. I really have never heard of Boss’s Day before and feel like it’s a totally manufactured holiday. I’m all for celebrating birthdays, holidays, and general team rah-rah’s, but this event raised an eyebrow for me. Anyway, my coworker sent an email, went out during lunch, and then by 1:30, the cake/cards/flowers were purchased. She then proceeded to email the entire department (except the director and VP), asking for contributions.

This scenario sounds similar to the advice you had given in this article.

This had particularly frustrated me because a number of us don’t particularly care for our director (she just parks there and collects a paycheck) and the way that my peer had initiated the request made it sound as if contribution was mandatory. I replied all, asking why we were just doing this for our director and not our VP and then stated that contributions really should be voluntary if we have not had a say in the gift. A number of coworkers and managers had thanked me for speaking up because they felt the same way.

My peer was really upset at me for replying all, and word got escalated up to my VP. The VP called my boss on Friday, saying she had concerns about my professionalism and that she is concerned that I am causing a division among the team. My supervisor then called me on the weekend, telling me about his conversation with the VP. He had mentioned to the VP that I had nothing personal against my peer (which is true; I didn’t want to feel forced to contribute, but I have nothing else against my peer), this incident is water under the bridge, and that I shouldn’t try to air things out with the VP. I asked why couldn’t I approach the VP, and he said, “Oh, it’s all handled – you don’t want to make it seem like it’s still an issue.”

What bothers me is that my peer’s supervisor ran this up the chain without even trying to talk to my supervisor about this situation or try to clear things up with me. That, compounded with the fact that my VP is only hearing one side of the story, I’m more inclined to talk to the VP one on one and approach her from the perspective of clearing the air. However, I also feel that I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, lay low, and only talk to the VP if she approaches me first. Thoughts?

Way too much drama! Let it go.

The drama isn’t your fault, but now that it’s been created by others, your best bet is to dial it down rather than fan its flames.

To be clear, your coworker was indeed out of line in implying people were obligated to chip in for a gift they hadn’t already consented to give.

And your manager was wrong to call you on a weekend and get you alarmed about this. And the fact that he was telling you not to take any action makes it even sillier that he dumped this on you over the weekend. (And that just makes it all the more drama-filled: “This is such a big deal that it can’t even wait for Monday! … But, oh, don’t do anything about it. Instead, just fret on your own.”)

However, your manager has told you very clearly that it’s been handled and that you shouldn’t approach the VP about it. Given how very minor this situation really should be, that’s probably good advice. Plus, openly ignoring your manager and doing the opposite of what he asked you to do is generally a bad way to proceed. If you really feel strongly about it, you could go back to your manager and say, “Hey, I really feel like I need to set the record straight myself — is that okay?” But I don’t think you should even do that, because this is so minor — and everyone involved should just let it go.

Your manager is telling you that it’s handled, so let it stay handled.

And you are correct that Boss’s Day is a silly, made-up holiday.

{ 178 comments… read them below }

  1. Poohbear McGriddles

    Elsa’s wisdom is definitely applicable here.

    Kinda crappy of the VP to get all upset with the OP when they were at least looking out for her (i.e., asking why no gift for the VP).

    1. Poohbear McGriddles

      Also, Reply All is an evil email feature designed to get people in trouble. Of this I am convinced.

        1. Adonday Veeah

          Gack! Back when email was a new thing, I had a mild back-and-forth flirtation with a co-worker without understanding the full impact of that pesky ol’ “reply all” feature.

      1. Cheeky

        That is why my company (of 23,000 people) has added a feature to our Outlook accounts that pops up a window when you click “reply all,” asking you to verify that you want to reply all. Lots of idiots accidentally emailing everyone with all sorts of stuff that shouldn’t be shared.

          1. Mabel

            I need a feature that says “The word ‘attached’ is in the body of this email, but you have not attached anything. Do you want to attach a file to this email?” I’m better at remembering to attach the attachments not, but that’s only because I have not included the attachment SO MANY TIMES and had to re-send the email (or worse – didn’t even notice it until the recipient mentioned it).

                1. Leah

                  My gmail does this, so maybe it’s a setting that can be changed? My work email, through Outlook, also pops up. It’s saved me on multiple occasions.

        1. Mabel

          I don’t understand why people click “reply all” by default. It’s one of several options (reply, reply all, forward, etc.), so I really don’t get why that one gets clicked on “by accident” so often. (I understand that the OP did this deliberately, but I’m responding to the other comments, as well as things that happen in my office fairly frequently.) Even the keyboard shortcuts make it easier to simply “reply” (CTRL+R vs. CTRL+SHIFT+R). Perhaps it’s just habit…?

      2. AnotherHRPro

        To me, that is really the only mistake you made. Never reply all, especially when saying something that could be perceived as negative or critical. Frankly, I find that these types of situations are best dealt with face to face. People, step away from your keyboard (yes, ironic that I’m typing this right now) and go talk to people. So many misunderstanding and hurt feelings could be avoided if we just talked to one another.

        1. Rose

          I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake. Some times its good for one person to publicly stand up and say “sorry, but this isn’t happening” so other, less bold, people can jump on the band wagon.

          1. Colette

            Yes, I’ve replied to a similar attempt to purchase a gift and then expect contributions (for a coworker, not a manager) and I replied all specifically because I thought it was important for someone to publically say that it wasn’t acceptable.

          2. Vicki

            Yep. This is the sort of situation that Reply-All was created for. The OP didn’t make a mistake. The OP was responding to something that EVERYone saw with a response she wanted EVERYone to see.

            The reason the peer got upset is because everyone saw it and people agreed. She couldn’t just pass this off as one unhappy employee.

            Embarrassed people do stupid things (like pushing drama up the chain). Unfortunately, the OP has a boss who doesn’t understand when to share information and when to just say “Thanks for telling me about this.” and letting it go.

            1. Blue Dog

              I think in general it is a bad idea to be publicly divisive. Although the OP may have been attempting to come from a good place, it could reasonably be seen as trying to whip the villagers into a frenzy. That sort of conduct doesn’t inspire confidence and can show a lack of discretion and judgment (which, frankly, appears lacking across the board here).

              My advice generally is if you want to question a policy, do it PRIVATELY to a single person. That way you are not perceived as starting an uprising. (And it doesn’t surprise me that a ton of people indicated private support for you — they were more than happy to reap the rewards while letting you take the arrows on this one.)

              1. dahllaz

                But this wasn’t a policy situation. It was one person deciding to try and make everyone else spend money that they had no say in, for a gift. Not policy, not fees, or anything to do with the business.
                I think that makes it a little different.

                1. Blue Dog

                  It’s still pot stirring. If you don’t want to give, don’t give. No one will remember that you were right — only that you started an uprising. I think in general it is best to concentrate on one’s work rather than getting all caught up in this kind of goofy crap.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                Eh, I think there’s something to be said for replying-all in a situation where you suspect lots of people aren’t going to like what’s being proposed but won’t speak up, and that if people did speak up something might change. Lots of people don’t want to be the one to say “I don’t want to do this,” but if someone else say it first, they’ll chime in. (As a person who’s usually willing to be the one to speak up first, I find that phenomenon annoying, but it’s very real.) If you know the group well enough to have a good sense that that’s likely the case, I can see why you might reply-all.

              3. Rose

                I think you can disagree and make others feel safe disagreeing without being decisive. Not every difference of agreement has to be a confrontation, and not every confrontation has to be negative.

                What’s so bad about writing:
                “Hey Steve, it’s my understanding that etiquette says that gifts in an office setting flow down, not up. I’m not sure how Martha will feel about receiving an expensive cake. I didn’t budget for a boss’s day gift this year, and I’m sure some other folks won’t have, either. It’s a great thought, but maybe we could stick to kind words of thanks and baked goods to share.”

                If anyone who expresses a different opinion about what is ok in the office is seen as “stirring the pot” or making trouble, I think you have a major issue in that office. Sometimes I feel like people have forgotten that it’s ok to disagree nicely.

        2. puddin

          I think you are on track here. An individual email stating that you will bow out this time or even to say that you are in and let’s at least get a card for the VP too.

          Look at it from the celebrarion initiator’s perspective. That person went out of their way to get everything all set up and thought they were helping the team. Then you reply all and essentially state, “boo hiss”. Next time have a one on one.

          The follow up from management was out of order to be certain.

          1. MK

            The initiator may have meant well but they were way out of line; they had no right to take unilateral action and presume that everyone else would fall in line with their plans, so I don’t think they deserve all that much sympathy. Also, I think you are missing the point: the OP didn’t just want to bow out or get the VP something too; they wanted to object to the initiator’s highjacking the office gift-giving.

            In the case of whether to get the boss a gift, a one-on-one is hardly appropriate. The initiator should have brought the matter up with their colleagues and discuss if they wanted to get a gift and, if yes, what. Perhaps there were more discreet ways for the OP to handle it, but the initiator’s ham-fisted methods (announce everyone has to participate in the gift and then go out and buy it before anyone had a chance to react) made subtlety difficult.

            1. puddin

              MK – I agree the person who started the gift process went about it poorly. It completely should have been a group discussion. I think that person probably had good intentions, although chances are relatively good for a suck up reason as well. Regardless, I think that the soft and individual approach, probably even in person rather than email, would have alleviated a lot of the kerfluffle.

              I don’t think it is helpful to a cooperative work environment to overlook graciousness just because someone else is making it difficult to be gracious. By bowing out I think you are in effect objecting to the highjacking. Co-workers are adults too and they can opt out as well. You do not have to be the assumed mouthpiece. The OP, in effect, highjacked in return and got embroiled in a feelings and professionalism matter that, with more tact, could have been avoided.

        3. Barney Stinson

          Should not have used “Reply All.”
          – None of us have an obligation to speak up for the rest of the group unless we’re their manager.
          – Use of “Reply All” is what made the protest look divisive, as it put the grievance out there for everyone to view and take a position on it.
          – I nevernevernever put negative content in emails if I can help it. Too many times my careful words have been forwarded on into posterity as a rallying flag of CANYOUBELIEVESHESAIDTHIS?

          And then you get calls on weekends that make you want to ralph.

          1. Ted Mosby

            -I don’t really see how that applies since OP didn’t say something like “The group thinks X!”
            -The whole office giving a gift should have been a group discussion in the first place. Why not make it one? I can see why some people might not, but there’s nothing wrong w doing so, IMO.
            -Totally agree. Never put anything confrontational/stupid/negative into writing, ever.

            Bro out.

        4. LBK

          I think this is a unique situation where reply all was warranted because other people agreed, and having the OP jump in to say it in front of everyone that it was unfair to make people pay without even asking gave the rest of the dissenters an out to decline to pay as well.

          1. LCL

            Reply all was used in this case as a gotcha game. Reply all, unless you are trying to solve a problem with multiple players, is usually a bad idea. The OP was unprofessional. So was the suit who called OP at home on the weekend. It was a fest of mutual unprofessionalism. If everyone could let this go that would be best.
            Someone used reply all to confront me about a mistake I made, before speaking with me. I had liked him. After that I lost all respect for him as a professional and as a human being. I was relieved when he transferred out so I didn’t have to strain to be courteous to him.

            1. Ted Mosby

              I don’t think it was necessarily a gotcha game at all. I think it was making what should have always been a group conversation (should we spend money on a cake for our boss?) into a group conversation. Cake Buyer already took it upon himself to spend money on everyone else’s behalf. In my mind at least, that did make it everyone’s problem. I think it all depends a LOT on how OP worded the email.

            2. LBK

              This isn’t about being called out about a mistake, this is about a group discussion. And, furthermore, you really shouldn’t take being called out about a business mistake so personally. Work problems need to be fixed – yeah, it’s not the best way to do it, but ultimately it’s not a personal judgment. It’s doing work, work that you get paid for.

          2. some1

            The way I read the letter is that others agreed with the LW privately, she was the only one who replied to all.

            1. LBK

              Doesn’t matter. The point is that, as Alison points out above, frequently no one wants to be the first one to say “I’m not doing this” but they will gladly do it once someone else has said it. OP was just giving the others an out. I see nothing wrong or unprofessional about this.

      3. Mister Pickle™

        Just my $0.02: I don’t see anything wrong with OP using Reply-All here. It depends on the situation, but I’ve done it before and I’d do it again. It’s not intended as a personal slam against the peer; it’s just an objection to the concept that was being advanced. I’d try to make that clear in the Reply-All.

        I’m not asking anyone to agree with me. But I think there’s less ‘badness’ in making this kind of objection than there is in allowing someone to run free with their personal agenda at the expense of a group of people. Sometimes somebody just needs to speak up.

        1. Ted Mosby

          I agree. It seems like no one can take any level of disagreement without being insulted or feeling attacked. Not everyone will agree with you all the time!

  2. Jamie

    I cannot believe there are companies that do the bosses day thing. I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face.

    OP you seem perfectly reasonable to me and definitely work with some asinine people.

    And yes, it doesn’t need to be said again but I’ll say it again – it’s a totally fake and made up holiday and no decent boss needs tributes from their employees.

    And of course people thanked you for speaking up because they thought the same thing – there are always cowards who reach into their wallets and pay the extortion then bitch about it …and cheer the person who says aloud that the emperor has no clothes…but won’t go on record except that they were happy to pay for the lovely suit the emperor clearly had on and he looked so handsome. If more reasonable people spoke up this crap would happen far less often and the ones who do speak up wouldn’t be considered outliers.

    1. Renegade Rose

      Your use of the word “tributes” made me start thinking about Hunger Games. ;) which was then followed by me wondering how Panem would have handled Bosses Day. (I agree that it is a ridiculous made up holiday.)

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Bosses Day in Panem probably involves a Reaping of middle managers who then fight to the death in a fiendishly designed bureaucratic maze. The winner gets a giant Corner Office, but then discovers that he/she must now compete in an even more fiendishly designed game against previous winners.

        1. bkanon

          I’m picturing someone filling out expense reports on time, with receipts, and getting parachutes of binder clips and The Good! Pens. (Because there’s always the pen you favor that you have to either sneakily bring in on your own dime or beg the supply person to get. Yes, you can have my Bic Cristal pens over my dead body. I bought that box myself!)

          1. So Very Anonymous

            My weapon of choice would probably be The Stapler That Can Staple More Than 50 Pages. Look out! She’s got the heavy duty staples! (Smash! Thwippp!)

    2. LBK

      We celebrate Bosses Day in my office by the bosses thanking us for being such awesome employees and making their jobs easier, and as a reward they buy us pizza for lunch. I’m totally down with celebrating if that’s how we do it.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Yep, my company started a new tradition this year that involves an optional lunch and cake for all employees. No money collection, no cards, no presents, no obligation.

    3. WorkingMom

      I agree with the “let it go” approach (and now I will have the song in my head all afternoon, haha.

      As a sidenote – another department in my office went ALL out for their boss and gave her a very expensive piece of jewelry. Word got back to my department and people starting fretting about having to “match” that other department’s gift, lest we not give our boss an equal or better gift. I talked them all off the ledge and reminded them that gifts really should only flow upwards in the first place, so we should stick to our original (historical) plan of a nice, heartfelt card and a small, token gift.

    4. Sadsack

      The two admin assistants in my department bring in home made baked goods on Boss’ Day. No one else does anything, at least as far as I know. I wish that the admins didn’t, but I think they both like reasons to bake.

      1. kozinskey

        We did a card for the boss and a potluck soup lunch this year. It was definitely 90% an excuse for everyone to bring in their favorite recipes. I still think our (good, reasonable) boss felt really awkward about it, though.

    5. MW

      This is probably going to be unpopular, but I’ll say it anyway. I am a boss and I like boss’s day!

      I don’t mandate my employees do anything for me (in fact, I have totally forgot about it the last couple of years and been surprised) and if they asked me, I would tell them not to do anything, or that we could all go to lunch together on me. That being said, as a supervisor of a small team (4 employees), I’m touched that they celebrate me one day a year.

      The rest of the year, I work really hard to encourage their interests, match their skills to the work they do, provide guidance and support — and write thoughtful notes after big projects are completed, take the whole team out to lunch (my treat, at their pick of restaurants) on their birthdays and for Administrative Professional’s Day, give them holiday gifts, etc.

      So yes, it’s a made up holiday, but it’s the only time of the year I feel like my team actually thinks about the things I do for them, and I enjoy the bagels and flowers they bring in so we can all celebrate together.

      1. Sadsack

        Thank you for sharing your perspective. I think the day is bogus, but it is nice to know at least one “boss” appreciates it and doesn’t expect it.

      2. JB

        That’s nice that you don’t expect them to do anything. I’ve worked places where it was definitely expected by the bosses, and that’s not a sign of a good workplace.

        But the things that you do for them are the things that all bosses should do, so you’re being celebrated (with gifts!) just for doing your job. As a boss, you have more power, authority, and presumably income than your employees. That’s why gifts aren’t supposed to flow up, only down. If they get you anything for the holidays, that should already be enough.

        I only have one full-time direct report, but she knows she is absolutely not to get me anything on that day because although she appreciates working for me, it’s only because I do the things I’m supposed to do as her boss. She shows her appreciation for me doing my job by doing her job well and (probably) not talking about me to her coworkers.

        There’s nothing wrong with being touched that the people who work for you do actually like you. Surely a nice note written in a card at the holidays would work just as well, though.

        My rule is, if people don’t show their appreciation for you in some way (even if not in the form of gifts) any day but the one day they are culturally/socially obligated to do so, then they probably don’t appreciate you that much.

        1. MW

          I disagree that the things I do are what all good bosses should do. The work stuff yes, the hundreds of dollars I spend on treats (meals, gifts), no. They don’t get me anything, ever, except $10 in bagels and $10 in flowers once a year. And yes, I make more money than them but I also work way more than then, with more stress and more accountability.

          My point is just that bosses are people, too, and it’s nice to have people recognize your efforts. Doesn’t have to be a gift, could be a note. I’d be thrilled with a note, actually. Like The Smiths said, I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.

  3. Mister Pickle™

    I think the VP is the one who has a “professionalism” issue here.

    I agree that this is one to let go.

    1. OhNo

      Eh, I think that depends on what story the VP got. If all they heard was “Jane is furious at OP for saying extremely hurtful things via reply all”, then it is legit to follow up with concerns about professionalism and maintaining office relationships. But it sounds like OP’s supervisor set the record straight with the VP, so hopefully now the VP has a clearer picture of what actually happened.

      I do wonder why the supervisor felt the need to call OP on the weekend, though. Was it a warning about a potential problem with the coworker once they are back at the office? Because that is the sort of thing I, at least, would want to know about before I waltzed into a war zone on Monday morning.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        I wondered if that was it. So that if somebody blindsided the OP about it, she’d have a response and not be tempted to email the VP and accidentally stir things up again.

      2. Elysian

        I figured that the supervisor called on the weekend because he knew the OP would be fretting about it and figured it would help, not hurt, if OP knew that Supervisor had handled it.

        1. OhNo

          See, I got the impression that the OP didn’t even know it had been escalated until the supervisor called them. Different readings for different folks, I guess. This is the problem with not having the full story! :)

          1. Op

            I wasn’t aware that it had been escalated, however, I generally maintain a fairly professional demeanor at work with all my coworkers. He called me to tell me to “play nice” with the one that initiated the boss day email during a trip I’m on currently. Him calling me on a weekend didn’t change how I normally would have acted towards the coworker, it just made me annoyed at him for dumping and running in me during the weekend

      3. Anonsie

        Following up, yes. Following up by contacting the person’s manager and telling them the person has a severe problem without actually seeing the email sent, no.

  4. Cube Ninja

    On the plus side, the whole situation is so bloody ridiculous that it’s very likely nobody will care about it in six weeks.

    Keep your nose clean, do your job well and pretend it never happened. It’s most probable that everyone else will follow suit.

      1. Op

        Yes, after thinking about this and talking to a few close friends as well (and reading the responses from aam – Thank you all) I plan to just lay low and help my nose to the grindstone. Fortunately a majority of the dept will be traveling for their respective projects and for the holidays for the next two months. Gives me time to concentrate and finish some projects out

        1. Guy Incognito

          I got in to a silly spat over email a while a go at work it ended up making me look bad even though I was only tying to set the record straight after the other person was inflammatory and then started shit stirring. It was such a stupid thing for me to do and I looked like a fool, the whole thing was blown out of all proportion and ended up with several senior managers involved and even ended up being part of my end of year appraisal as an example of my poor attitude.

          The worst thing was my boss who I had plenty of respect for total hung me out to dry y tell me she thought I’d done nothing wrong but publicly critiszing me, it really soured our relationship.

          It makes no difference how right you are just ignore it and you’ll come off better in the long run.

  5. AdAgencyChick

    Good god. The fact that the VP questions OP’s professionalism at all (unless the email was snarkily worded, which I bet it wasn’t) has my eyes rolling SO HARD.

    OP, I wouldn’t worry that the VP has heard only one side of the story, though. It sounds like your direct supervisor went to bat for you, although it was silly to make it a big deal by calling about it over the weekend.

  6. Katie the Fed

    Your VP really, truly doesn’t care what your side of the story is. I promise. She’s probably forgotten all about it. You’ll make yourself look really bad if you engage on it again.

    But your colleague is a total suck-up. If I found out my team was doing a boss’s day gift for me, I’d probably laugh. But I’m a terrible person.

  7. Magda

    Hooboy. I’m cynical about Boss’s Day, so my initial impression is that your peer was attempting to score kiss-up points and didn’t appreciate being derailed/called out. That said, I think you’re in danger of “mud wrestling with a pig” territory if you pursue it past this point. It sucks but there may be nothing you can do other than letting it blow over.

    1. Op

      I’ve apologized to the coworker for hurting her feelings. She seemed to take it well when I had talked to her, but we’ll see. But yes, I’ll just lay low for now. Vp has interacted with me casually for the past few days and the topic hasn’t come up. She’s mostly talked about noon work related stuff with me (travel stories, plans for Halloween, various office humor stories from prior jobs). Sounds like she’s over it

    1. Windchime

      We bought our boss a modest gift card (voluntary contributions only) because he is an awesome boss and we want him to know how much we appreciate him. I know it’s a made up holiday, but we usually do something small anyway.

  8. Pixie

    I had to speak up here. I work for a company that celebrated (until this year) Boss’s day in a big way. Employees received an e-mail telling them how much they should spend on their boss and to charge it to their corporate credit care. I am talking large amounts of money (to me anyway). For instance, I supervise only one person and she was given a spending limit of $250. Even though I’m on the receiving end I think this is really excessive. The executive management people could choose what they would like, usually it was in the form of gift cards with large balances. This year we have a new CEO who immediately put a stop to that practice along with a lot of other things. For one thing, only a very few people even have corporate credit cards. It’s a new world.

    1. LBK

      Wow…that is cuckoo bananas.

      If the company wants to recognize me monetarily for being a manager, how about just giving me a raise?

    2. Adam

      An employee was advised to spend up to $250 on the company dime for a bosses day gift…Do you work with Dilbert by chance? Thank goodness your new CEO appears to have their head on straight.

      1. AndersonDarling

        $250 from the corporate card! Holy crackers! That sounds like the most sketchy thing ever! How on earth did that get coded by accounting? To the “Free Money for Executives” account? And any gift card employee gift over $50 needs to be taxed. I’m betting that wasn’t happening.
        Good for the new CEO.
        But wow. Super wow.

    3. fposte

      That’s absolutely horrific. I’d feel like I’d need to reimburse my staff for that, which means it wouldn’t be much of a celebration for either end.

      1. Jamie

        You wouldn’t need to reimburse them since they were paying on the corporate card – which I can’t figure out how it got past accounting, either.

        Anyone else wondering what GL account this hit? I would so not be the one explaining this to the external auditors.

          1. Jamie

            I’m wondering how many people are pissed that the new CEO killed the practice. You know there had to be a ton of grumbling over something like that.

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          You can spend company money any how you like it’s getting the accounting treatment wrong that would pose a problem, I work for a pretty large consultancy firm and we have separate GL accounts for allowable and disallowable expenses to make sure we get the tax treatment right, (just to make it fun allowable expenses can become disallowable if the proper supporting documents aren’t provided)

          We also keep a record of all benefits in kind that employees need to be taxed on and a report is sent to the UK equivalent of the IRS every year.

          It’s a pain in the ass to do properly but it keeps me in work as I look after the data and prepare the reports for the accountants to use for the returns.

    4. HR Manager

      So essentially the company decided to thank bosses for being employees (which they already pay them for) by buying them gifts that were probably not taxed properly and covertly treated as “gifts” by the staff? Do they pre-write out cards with ‘thank you for being an awesome boss!!’ and ask these be stuffed in with the gifts too?

    5. no name on this one

      OMG. $250? That is obscene.

      Back in the Olden Days before “reply all” or the internet, the Corporate Executives sent out word, and promoted heavily, that there would not be any employee gifts for managers. We were welcome to make a contribution to a charity. As an officer, I know this was because the Executives were acknowledging the management was well-compensated, and earned bonuses because of the employees’ production and efficiency. There were other reasons. Most of the front line people had been converted to “flex-time” that resulted in cuts in hours worked.

      The middle management exec in charge of our area immediately began to grin with glee and rub his hands together. He kept speaking of the “extravagant gift” we were going to get him. He was old school. He had an employee designated for other tasks at a desk outside his office as his “executive secretary” because he couldn’t type or use the platform software we had on desktop computers. She began circulating the manilla envelope with our names on it – we had to initial when we dropped our contribution in the envelope. I believe the amount was $5. In today’s economy that would be like $25. With 15 on staff it was a considerable collection. So he got a large gift certificate to a restaurant for him and his wife.

      There was never any mention of a gift to a charity. What a shame. He and his wife were both clearly not in need of a rich meal.

  9. Jamie

    If I were a betting person my money would be on the VP bitching about it because they were embarrassed to be dragged into something they had nothing to do with. And if the snark was along the lines of complaining that it was unprofessional to make a big deal or whatever and a supervisor assigning way too much import to the comment and pushing the big deal down to the OP… Because there are a lot of people intimidated enough by upper management that they make huge deals out of off hand comments.

    And if people don’t like the director she could have seen your throwing her name in as a way to highlight the division explaining the comments. Maybe she called your boss to make sure he knew because it’s an issue and they didn’t appreciate you (unknowingly) tossing them in the mix.

    Ridiculous – but I’m with everyone else – let it go. Treat this as the mess on the carpet that it is and step around it so it doesn’t get on your shoes.

  10. Gwen

    So ridiculous. My favorite boss’s day story: this year one of my mom’s coworkers decided to take it upon herself to get cake and such to celebrate. She asked that the frosting roses be done in “autumnal colors”…and the bakery piped some of the roses in brown. Which made them…resemble things other than roses. Perhaps a good reflection of some staff’s true feelings about celebrating the holiday!

    1. TotesMaGoats

      I was talking to someone on the phone while reading your post and had to stop myself from laughing on the call. Thankful I wasn’t drinking anything!

  11. Kateyjl

    I’m a believer in “complain up, reward down”. Giving gifts to bosses just screams of sucking up. Bosses shouldn’t accept gifts from their workers. Just seems like a big conflict of interest.

      1. JayDee

        Oh, the first beneficiary of Bosses Day was the father of a young woman who thought her daddy was just the best boss ever. So it’s totally the worst kind of a made up holiday. That said, every year on October 14th or 15th, I go buy a couple cards and circulate them around the office. Because our bosses rock. But I’m not spending $250 on the corporate card or expecting others to chip in on a gift or cake or something. And I’ll gladly accept the title of suck-up because it’s not entirely untrue.

  12. Mike B.

    OP: I’d focus on the positive result of this nonsense, the fact that your coworkers appreciated your stepping up and saying something. Being respected among your colleagues counts for a lot, and it can bear fruit in unexpected ways.

    1. Op

      On the plus side, I might not ever be required to work with this coworker or supervisor for a long time :) . I’ve had to work with their supervisor before and it’s been painful at best (tries to take credit for things but can’t speak to it, gets shot down by other business partners for coming off unorganized and not knowledgeable). I haven’t worked directly with my coworker, but I’m not missing out on anything if we don’t work together on a project

  13. Natalie

    If it comes up in the future (like next year) I would probably just ignore the email – I think it’s Miss Manners says that solicitation emails don’t require a response at all. Don’t give and don’t reply, and if your co-worker presses you it’s more likely to reflect badly on them.

    1. Jamie

      ITA. And if approached in person after ignoring it just politely tell them no. Thanks for asking me to be a part of this, but no, thank you. If they push and you feel you need to explain (which you don’t) you’re sorry – you aren’t contributing because you didn’t budget for Bosses Day. It’s true and it doesn’t mean you don’t have disposable income, just that you have budgeted how you’d like to dispose of it and this isn’t on the list.

      1. Natalie

        “I’m sorry, that’s not in my budget” is my favorite vague, non-lie response, along with “I have another engagement” when I have a date with my vacuum cleaner.

    2. Josh S

      No required response to be sure. But if, like the OP, you have the guts to stand up to the solicitor on behalf of everyone–do it. There are plenty of people out there who feel put out but who don’t, for whatever reason, feel as though they can say anything against it.

      See Option #3 here:
      https://www.askamanager.org/2013/11/my-office-wants-us-to-chip-in-to-send-our-ceos-family-on-a-ski-trip.html

      Sometimes, the only reason a bad practice like that exists is that nobody who opposes it in sentiment has opposed it in action.
      It’s a different meaning entirely, but this quote by Edmond Burke comes to mind: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

      1. Natalie

        I totally agree in general. But since this has come up once for the OP, in a slightly memorable way, if they push back again they might get an (unfair) negative reputation around this issue.

  14. Rebecca

    “And you are correct that Boss’s Day is a silly, made-up holiday.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times. We had a luncheon here, as in we made/bought stuff and brought it in. It was pointless. Everyone grabbed food and went back to their desks to eat, while our pointy haired boss sat in the conference room and supervised the food.

    And I’m with the OP – don’t decide you want to do something for someone without any input/approval, and then put your hand out for money to cover it. One of my coworkers learned the hard way that we don’t like to be coerced into participating in gifts for the boss and ended up footing most of the bill for a silly item she bought.

    And as an aside, my wall calender is from Canada, and I’m happy to see my colleagues to the North have tons more sense than we do here in the US.

    1. HR Manager

      >> while our pointy haired boss sat in the conference room and supervised the food.<<
      Yep, that food gets pretty out-of-line sometimes. I hope he had a good talking to that food. That's about how serious I would treat any self-important boss. I understand respect, but to honor your own manager annually just for being the boss is crazy.

      One of my first bosses set the tone that I have never had to have repeated to this day. She said "Never get me a gift. It's weird." So that was that. She and I are still friends today, almost 20 years and 4 jobs later.

  15. Juni

    I hate Boss’ Day. As a boss with a loyal amazing team, I cannot fucking win – I hate receiving gifts from below because it makes me uncomfortable and feels unjust since I make more than them, and I can’t say “Don’t get me anything for boss’ day!” because it makes it seem like I’m expecting something when it’s possible I wouldn’t have gotten anything and it could have been a normal day.

    Wish my whole organization would have a note go out from the CEO with a “gifts cannot flow up, no matter what the holiday/reason, please consider a card or personal note if you want to show appreciation from someone more senior than you” but too many other managers/directors/VPs just love getting things from the people they manage.

    1. Dan

      Someone up above wrote about the boss taking the team out to celebrate. It seems like a good way to turn the tables. A week or two before “the holiday”, send an email telling the team your plans to take them out or have lunch brought in or something. Once the dialog starts, you can causally mention that gifts flowing up makes you uncomfortable and that you’d rather do something to thank the team.

  16. JoAnna

    Ha, my team (6 people in all) gave our boss a $5 tchotchke I picked up while on vacation at the Grand Canyon (something I thought he’d find humorous), and a card. I didn’t consult the team before I bought it but I did email everyone letting them know that I was going to give it to him from all of us (and waited a bit afterwards in case there were objections, which there weren’t). And I didn’t ask for contributions, given the whole thing cost me less than $10. Boss’ Day is stupid but my boss is pretty awesome so we wanted to let him know he was appreciated, and the humorous gift was in keeping with the way we often (as a team) joke around.

    1. Maddy

      If you’re going to do something for Boss’s Day this sort of super-simple thing is the approach I support. One of my employees sells scented candles on the side so she put a couple in a gift bag and gave them to me with a nice note. I know she just had them laying around her house so she didn’t actually spend anything, and the sincere note of thanks was really nice to receive on a day I felt like I’d been getting pretty beat up by those above me in the food chain.

    2. Monodon monoceros

      For a boss with a sense of humour this is the best way to go! If I do anything, it’s usually if I’ve found some goofy thing to do with our research.

  17. C Average

    Boss’s Day is stupid, but I’m grateful for it at the moment. I don’t have the most harmonious relationship with my boss, but on Boss’s Day (which I only knew about because someone mentioned it on Facebook), she happened to mention craving a particular restaurant’s food for lunch, and I said I’d treat her in honor of Boss’s Day. She had a meeting and had to say no anyway, but went on and on about how nice it was of me to make the offer. It’s the nicest she’s been to me in months, and she’s been way friendlier ever since. I’ll take whatever scraps of goodwill I can get.

    Whenever my office experiences drama anything like what’s described here, I can’t help thinking to myself, “This place is in need of a good crisis.” There’s nothing like actual problems to make the non-problems seem like the trivia that they are.

  18. bridget

    Ugh re: Boss’s day. In my workplace, it is WAY over celebrated (assuming it needs a celebration at all). I don’t want to get into details for fear of outing myself, but it includes extensive preparation by support staff at home. As the newest and most junior member in the group of people considered “bosses” in my workplace, I found it super uncomfortable. It was planned before I got here (and I’m so junior I couldn’t have pushed back on it in any practical way anyway) and because the support staff put so much work into it, I would have felt equally uncomfortable not showing up and appreciating their efforts.

  19. Lisa

    Reply all, prob a bad move so that is prob the professionalism part. I feel like the VP’s reaction is what is why OP wants to clear the air on her own. “she had concerns about my professionalism and that she is concerned that I am causing a division among the team”. But, do we really know if the VP used that wording? Does your manager seem like she is quoting or paraphrasing with undue alarm. Find out.

    I agree with Alison, do not talk to the VP. Go back to your manager, and tell her that you have serious concerns that what should have been a minor conversation initiated such jarring feedback from the VP. Ask your manager if you have to be concerned if this incident will influence how the VP sees you moving forward or if it truly is behind you. Ask them to specify exactly how it’s all settled since the VP said creating “division among the team”. I would rather know now that I am painted with the ‘not a team player’ brushstroke, before spending years trying to make up for having the courage to say something. Don’t defend yourself, let your manager explain how it was handled to ease your mind and stick to wanting to know. Don’t let them brush you off. Reieterate that such a jarring response by VP has you worried, and you want the details on how its all set.

    1. TheTemp

      I’m not so sure that replying all was a bad move. It was a bad move of the colleague to buy something without the input of her colleagues and then expect people to pony up for it. I think that in certain scenarios, an email to a lot of people who are more or less at the same level of authority invites group discussion.

    2. Op

      I had asked him that during the time when he called me (multiple times – I usually ignore work calls on the weekend but he was super persistent). He must kept saying it was handled and don’t talk to vp about it. Nothing more than that

      What’s worse is that He called another manager and is the coworkers I’m friends with, and coworkers reported it back to me. My supervisor is making a big deal and want me and my friends not to be exclusive when we hang out after hours and to include the original coworker that sent the email during our social outings after hours going forward. Urgh

      1. Jamie

        How would your bosses know when you go out after hours? It’s ridiculous for him to try to dictate that, but he doesn’t have to know.

        1. Op

          A small group of us go out to lunch together on a weekly basis. Some of these folks I’ve worked with in prior companies. So it’s pretty clear were good friends.

          We are currently traveling this week in a large group which includes the original coworker that sent the email, her supervisor, a few coworkers that Join me for lunch, and the vp. I understand what my supervisor is trying to say, but the way he’s handled the communication from the get go kinda rubs me the wrong way.

          If I’m traveling, I don’t want to feel forced to hang out with everyone after hours. Let me enjoy my beer with ppl I enjoy spending time with

        1. teclatwig

          Yeah, if the focus is on being more inclusive if this particular coworker, there is more going on here. It seems possible that the higher-ups already had some concerns, and this was just an actionable item that got jumped on.

      2. Clerica

        This is the most absurd of all things.

        If I were the coworker in question, got invited to an outing, and ever found out that I’d only been invited because the boss “suggested” it? I would be so livid.

        1. Lisa

          Sounds like the coworker is a whiner that is complaining to the boss about not being included. Managers are too busy to notice these things on their own, I seriously doubt OP’s boss took it upon herself to suggest this without being alerted to it by the coworker.

  20. ryn

    ugh, reminds me of last christmas. Old boss had put an end to giving him gifts, but we had a new boss, and he didn’t know about this. So, my coworker went and got new boss something super expensive and a card and wouldn’t allow us to sign the card unless we gave her $10. Awkward.

    1. J

      This one’s easy. She doesn’t have a monopoly on cards. Nobody sign the card. Somebody else get another card and everyone can sign that. Then she can either look like the suck up who bought the new boss a ridiculous present all by herself or she can sign the group card and return or otherwise use the gift.

  21. Concerned

    Is it seemingly that this OP’s peer was trying to save face, so to speak? It seems like he/she was doing a suck up move and then tried to make it sound like you weren’t being a team player by not going along.

  22. LawBee

    I shut down the boss holiday gift last year – he’s got everything, and he hates getting presents, so we did an entirely secret and voluntary donation to a charity for which he’s a boardmember. The card was signed “by all of us on Team LastName”, and didn’t state how much the contribution was.

    Boss’s day this year, I shut down to just a card. My goal is zero boss day gifts next year. Now that the “holiday” is past, I’m going to delete it from the calendar and hopefully it will never come up again. Ridiculous.

    1. KJR

      Oh my gosh, I think you just solved my annual dilemma! We always buy our boss a Christmas gift, but same situation — I think it makes him feel awkward, and he doesn’t really need anything. Problem is, people like to contribute towards something because he’s an awesome boss — goes out of his way to help people, provides great direction and feedback etc.; plus I couldn’t figure out a tactful way to stop the gift giving. But, he is on the board of a local charity, so I bet this would mean more to him than anything!! Thank you!!

    2. Kathryn

      I have to say, as a manager, a card with a donation to a charity I admire/care about is quite probably the only gift that wouldn’t make me squirm, and only make me feel touched and appreciated.

  23. soitgoes

    I think I would have responded to the call for contributions with, “You didn’t tell me about this before you did it, and I don’t have any cash on me. Sorry.” Truthfully, I don’t think a lot of people would have minded chipping in a dollar or two each for a cake from Costco, especially if everyone then got to eat some. The coworker is very clearly a brown-noser who wanted credit for going ahead and planning the “celebration” and now she’s annoyed that no one else is helping her look good.

    1. soitgoes

      I want to add that the way this has been contextualized is weird, though some of that is the OP’s doing. If her coworker was going to buy gifts for one of the higher-ups and not the other, that’s her choice. Trying to make it seem like the OP really just wanted both supervisors to receive gifts seems disingenuous to me, since the more obvious point of contention would be that the coworker did what she wanted and then expected other people to foot the bill. I can see the VP being a little annoyed that the OP spoke on his behalf about something that he likely didn’t care about.

  24. Jax

    I think gifts for bosses is a “know your office” situation. For the past two Christmases I opted out of the office collection for our three big wigs. Last year I stood awkwardly with the rest of the office, watching our bosses tear into gifts like cases (yes, cases) of alcohol and regretted not chipping in. Everyone was having fun, the gifts and bonuses on all sides were appreciated, and since our company definitely operates on the “We’re a family!” mentality I felt like a sulky teenager for opting out.

    This company has been in existence for a long time, and the employer Christmas gift is a tradition. In my situation, tossing $10 into the pile is worth it to be a team player and be seen as “part of the family”. Gross? I guess. But I’m the one who has to work here, and since the company is fabulous in every other way, I’m going to chalk it up to the weirdness of my company and live with it.

    1. Op

      This isn’t the situation here. Half the dept was hired in the last 8 months and boss day was not celebrated before from what I understood by asking some of the folks who have been in the dept for many years

      1. Jax

        My main point is that I took the same stance as you, and it didn’t change the office, or put an end to the gift giving, or do much of anything other than make me look like a grumpy dissenter.

        It’s one thing to read a blog like this and think, “Yeah, these gifts for bosses are stupid! I’m not going to do it and people will follow behind me!” and quite another to actually TRY it. My consequence was feeling squirmy at the office party, yours was having it escalated to the VP. Afterwards I decided it’s not a hill I’m willing to die on, and I’d rather toss a $10 into the bucket than call negative attention to myself again.

  25. cynic

    Coming from a company that has potlucks for everything and decorates people’s desks for their birthday – and if someone is forgotten, Lord help us, feelings are hurt and people pout – why can’t we go back to give if you want from the heart? We…um…they celebrate any and everything while a select few actually work. It’s exhausting and expensive and done all the time, every time, and now it’s become insincere and actually obligatory: “I decorated your desk, here is your card and cake because I don’t want you crying all day.” If people looked into their hearts and thought “I really like this person as a friend and coworker and want to celebrate them. I’m going to get them a card and a little something,” it would be so much more meaningful.

    But I’m a cynic I guess.

    1. teclatwig

      My husband worked in an office where an admin circulated birthday cards for everyone. Except him. He didn’t even like the damn cards, but it added to an already burgeoning sense of alienation.

  26. Anonymous (Just This Time)

    AAM published a letter from me last year where I asked/complained (askplained?) about the $250 gift my dept. gets our boss each Christmas, usually in the form of a gift card, and the assigned seating at a luncheon we each individually pay for. It was refreshing back then to not only hear how many people thought a gift that size was ridiculous, but also that it was a faux pas to gift up, according to every etiquette expert around!

    But when I see a letter like this, I realize it really is fighting a losing battle, because the people who keep buying or organizing gifts for the boss don’t care that it’s a faux pas or do it before anyone realizes what’s happening.

    And that’s what happened in my group this year. The gift has already been selected (In September, nonetheless), the money is being collected, and any attempt I might make to stop this will be too little, too late. And I’ll likely get the same reception the OP did here.

    And since our team has grown, the gift will be about $300 this year.

    For a guy who loves the holidays, I sure hate this part!

  27. AnonyMiss

    We totally did Boss’s Day too… although it was only some candy, a card, and a puppy wall calendar for my dog-loving boss. Contributions were voluntary, but the premise troubles me nontheless, including the explanation that “Oooh, we just LOVE giving gifts around here!”

    I can’t really push back on established culture as a brand new addition, I know that. But I also know that come Christmas, this will be awkward. Although I’m fairly well-paid for my industry and area, I also have a 45 minute commute (about 45-50 bucks of gas a week), and lots of bills, being the sole provider for me and the hubs. If anything, it’ll be $5 Starbucks gift cards to my closest peers (IF they get me anything, that is).

  28. NJ anon

    Never heard of bosses day and it does sound ridiculous. Thankfully either no one in my organization heard of it either or everyone is so broke and burned out, they didn’t care. We have a new head honcho whom I do not care for. You could not have gotten me to contribute for all the tea in China! (or all the bacon in Texas?)

  29. Pam

    I just realized, when I read this, that Boss’s Day was this month, and that my staff neglected to celebrate it this year. YAY!!! It was always very sweet of everyone, but it made me so uncomfortable. I always wished I could just tell them that they REALLY didn’t have to do that for me. I remember what it was like to have to contribute to a boss’s gift, knowing the boss made at least 3 times what I did.

  30. Nerd Girl

    I hate office drama. At my last company we had a “Birthday Club” which basically meant that each person who elected to be in the club paid $20 a year and when a birthday rolled around funds were used to buy a cake and a card to be shared by the entire team. What happened was that people at the end of the year would find out that there wasn’t enough money to cover their cakes because people who had earlier birthdays would ask for expensive ice cream cakes or specialized desserts. It was a nightmare. The woman who ran the club would get upset when people would opt out or drop out of the club. She even resorted to name calling “Party Pooper” “Killjoy” “Buzzkill” were all names she called those of us who didn’t participate. It was no surprise when management disbanded her “club”.

    1. Jamie

      Now I personally don’t care if work remembers my birthday or not, although my boss does pick up my favorite plum tart so that’s a nice sentiment but I would love it if we could skip the singing. But I digress – for a lot of people the work birthday is a bfd – so I don’t know why employers don’t shell out for a cake once a month for all months with birthdays in it and be done with it.

      It’s not that expensive or time consuming and …cake. But it cuts down on SO much drama if the company pays and then no one gets hurt or feels pressured.

      And the way your office did it is particularly horrible. So a January February birthday gets any kind of cake and if you’re a November-December baby your SOL? If it’s $20 bucks to join then the cake can’t cost over $20 per. Someone neglected to have accounting vet the purchasing process on this one.

      1. Judy

        I worked at a place where they had cake at 2 pm on the first Wednesday of the month in the largest conference room. I think there was coffee also. And the overhead showed the names of the people who were celebrating birthdays and employment anniversaries, as did the meeting invitation.

      2. C Average

        I like this because it combines cake (which is always awesome) with the option of anonymity on one’s birthday (which some of us very much want).

        I spent my fortieth birthday on a work trip to Tokyo. My manager noticed it was my birthday after the trip was booked and started to apologize and I was like, “No! It’s perfect. I’m so glad I don’t have to endure unwanted fanfare and stale jokes and a card I have to feel guilty about throwing away.”

        I’m not the Grinch, I swear, but I really like to celebrate my birthday with those of my choosing.

        I also hate getting cards dumped on my desk at least once a week for people I only know from cc lists. I’m sure they’re lovely, but I really have nothing heartfelt to say to them and would rather skip the pretense.

      3. Susan

        My company has started doing birthday treats at all of the offices every month. I say treats instead of cake because we get to choose at the office what we want to get; so far we’ve covered cake, pie, cupcakes, cookies, and muffins. My office is only 10 people, so some months nobody has a birthday, but we still get to celebrate, which is nice.

      4. UK Nerd

        Standard procedure everywhere I’ve worked in the UK is that you bring the cake for your own birthday. Every time I see American workplace birthday drama I’m thankful for this custom. I get to spend as much or as little as I want, I’ll definitely get cake I like, and if I’d rather my birthday went unmarked one year, I don’t have to do it.

        1. Dmented Kitty

          In the Philippines, tradition is that whoever celebrates the birthday will treat his/her friends/colleagues, whether in the manner of a small basket of food for lunch or merienda (afternoon snack), or taking them out to a restaurant and footing the bill. Personally I think it’s kind of backwards, but I guess this is similar to throwing a birthday party at your house.

          My colleagues here in the US just schedule a time and place (after consulting with the celebrant) so we could all go out for lunch and they will split the bill so the celebrant won’t have to pay for theirs – so it’s the other way around. And for those months where there are a lot of celebrants and the split will be significantly larger, the celebrants are usually gracious enough to decline the offer and just be happy about celebrating lunch and the usual birthday card.

      5. Nerd Girl

        Yes, starting around October (my birthday month) the cake thing was up in the air. It was ridiculous. And the woman who ran the club would chastise those of us who complained. Several of us ended up taking things into our own hands and arranged a food table day for November and December where people brought in yummy stuff and we worked a homemade cake in for those month’s birthdays. And she tried to take credit for it. It was so silly.
        The company I currently work with has a monthly birthday breakfast. The GM brings in these amazing bagels from this little bakery near her home. The whole office joins in and the months birthdays are announced as everyone is digging in. It’s a lot of fun. And of course, free bagels!!! :)

    2. Clerica

      Holy sh…eet, this is the weirdest thing. My friend works somewhere with the exact same thing…a bday “club” with the same $20 “membership fee” and she was debating writing in about it. Apparently after everyone paid this year, they skipped someone’s bday and then claimed that it’s only for certain levels of staff. But they took money from everyone.

      Now, in your case, how did they think it was going to end when earlier cakes cost more than $20? Did they put it in an account earning the current, what, 0.5% interest and think, “Eh, the interest’ll cover the rest!”?

      1. Dmented Kitty

        I personally don’t like the idea of the “Birthday Club” thing (I’m shocked it exists), but I thought if one had a pool of money from “members” one would think to strictly enforce a budget limit for each cake per member’s birthday.

        Me? I’d be happy with good coffee and some donuts on my birthday.

    3. Betty

      My old department had a birthday club. Optional to join. Members were responsible for bringing cake for the person who had the birthday after theirs. So May 1 birthday brought cake for May 20 birthday’s celebration, and then May 20 birthday person brought cake for June 3 birthday. And so on. One person kept the list of birthdays updated and sent out reminders. I kept a cake-cutting knife, birthday candles, and matches in my desk. Fun, fair, and it was opt-in so no one was forced to participate.

  31. Joey

    Was it worth it? knowing that the vp expressed concern about your professionalism. Sort of sounds like he’s concerned you’re a potential troublemaker.

  32. Mena

    You say that your peer’s supervisor didn’t go to your supervisor … no, your peer’s supervisor really should have started with a conversation with YOU, at which time you could explain your position. These people are overly hierarchical.

    Not fair to you at all but lesson learned. Better to not have responded to the email at all and not contributed.

    1. Colette

      I would find it odd if a peer’s supervisor came to talk to me about this – the peer should bring it up, or their supervisor should talk to my supervisor who can then decide whether to talk to me.

  33. Ella

    My secretary always gets me a Christmas gift, which makes me uncomfortable. Just a nice bottle of wine, but I don’t feel she should have to spend anything on me. (I always get her something, but I don’t think it needs to be reciprocated). I wish our office would institute a “no gifts flowing up” policy too! I feel like if I said something she would be offended either thinking that I didn’t like the gifts or was showing off somehow that I am “above” her in the chain. (But I guess that fear reflects other issues we have!)

  34. Treena Kravm

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a Boss’ Day card in my card collection. I bought it years ago for a supervisor I hated and couldn’t keep my face neutral and I was hoping to send the, “I swear I like you!” message. Boss’ Day came and went and I didn’t realize I had forgotten it well into November.

  35. Jazzy Red

    Actually, Bosses Day was started more than 40 years ago by Professional Secretaries International (now The International Association of Administrative Professionals). It was a way of thanking our bosses who treated us with respect and appreciated us as real team members. It had real meaning for us, and our executives. Then Hallmark got hold of it and turned it into another card giving occasion.

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