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Daily Archives: December 23, 2011

Holiday gift(s) from the boss

Lately I’ve been thinking about my days back in grad school. Those 6 or so crazy/fun/weird/sad/meh/whatever years I spent working my tail off to have a series of projects that made sense and made me happy.

The holidays were (and still are, except for this year) my all-time favourite season. I love the blinking lights, the decoration, the special drinks that only come out at this time. Heck, I even like bundling up, and how my cheeks get all rosy (or red).

My other favourite part was/is gift-giving. I always liked guessing what other people would get me (or drive hon crazy while trying to find out). I also liked getting unexpected surprises from friends, family and sometimes total strangers. And I always loved the expression of surprise and delight in people’s faces when they opened their gifts.

A few days ago a co-worker and I were having a conversation about gift-giving and bosses. Our boss is a bit stingy (I’m still not happy with my salary, it could be better, and I’m partly blaming it on being a woman … but that’s for another post). I was asking my co-worker if the boss ever gets the lab anything, like maybe lunch, or a bottle of wine/champagne to share. My co-worker looked at me all puzzled. He was surprised because he says he’s never received a gift from any of his bosses/mentors. And he sure doubts it will ever change.

I then became the puzzled one because, as far as I can remember, whether for my birthday or the holidays, most of my bosses have made an effort to give a little something. I remember getting a little card and a small gift from some of the students in my first summer undergrad lab. Then, on one of my internships, I got a book and ice-cream with the boss and labbies. In grad school my mentor had the lab sign a birthday card and I have a few of those. We also had a nice lunch after a paper was accepted or after a defense. During the holidays, the boss would call each person into their office, say some nice words about the performance/papers/career and hand a gift, usually a certificate (in the 25-50$ range) and some sweets or an ornament. It always made me feel special. And it I thought of it normal. When I moved on to my postdoc, my mentor would invite us over for dinner at his house, and get everyone a little something, whether a bottle of wine, a sweet or an ornament. And there were more than just a few of us, so money was definitely not an excuse. He’d also buy the first round of beer on special occasions, like a paper, a thesis defense or a goodbye get-together.

My coworker said I was lucky … and that apparently I’m one of the very few that ever crossed paths with people who are into giving gifts, or making a bit of an effort to show some appreciation to their minions lab.

This also brought to mind that a fairly new professor at work, who is a collaborator, has gone out of their way to show appreciation towards us, the staff. This person brought personalized cards and sweets for individual lab members and has shown a lot of kindness … just because we’ve been doing our jobs. Said token of appreciation brought memories of my old days in grad school, and how I could always count on my boss to cheer me up during the holidays. Having a little token made up for the times I was frustrated or irritated, or when I couldn’t go home and had to work throughout the holiday season.

Did you (or do you) get gifts/tokens of appreciation from the boss/higher up during the holidays? If so, what’s your favourite? If not, do you think it would make a different in how you percieve this person? As a mentor, do you go out of your way to show your lab peeps appreciation? Do they go out of their way to do the same? How do you feel?