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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Five Steps for Turning the Tables on the Boss and Turning the Light on You!

Five Steps for Turning the Tables on the Boss and Turning the Light on You!

National Boss’s Day is October 16th, an international holiday established in 1958 by a secretary for State Farm Insurance Company. Traditionally a day for employees to thank their boss for being kind and fair throughout the year, it was originally conceived as an effort to improve the relationship between employees and their supervisors.

There probably have been many times when you and/or your fellow employees have complained about your boss.

Plenty of occasions when you said you would never have done it that way, or when you felt you deserved credit or appreciation and it just never came.

It’s probably also a good guess to say that you’ve found countless opportunities when precious time has been spent to whine, complain, and second guess. Goodness knows, we can all share the stories of the bosses from hell.

However, bad mouthing the boss can be bad business. Particularly because what we give out, we get back. What would happen if we reversed the trend and let the boss know what she did well? What would happen if we actually looked for what was right rather than what was wrong.

October 16th is National Boss Appreciation Day. For good reason.

We need a kick-in-the-pants day. We did a quick survey and we found that employees agree that they don’t often stop to pay attention to something positive that was just said by a boss. They don’t tell the boss if his idea was a good one. They don’t let the boss know when their intervention prevented a battle, or nipped a problem before it grew.

Employees say they just didn’t think of it!

We believe you should. Not just because October 16th is National Bosses Day, but because giving credit, showing appreciation, noticing great behavior really does go both ways. If you want it, give it.

There are at least four opportunity points for you to watch for and act on. All can easily escape you, alas, they usually do.

1. Catch your boss doing something that helped you.

Ken Blanchard reminded us of the importance of this same idea when he wrote his immortal One Minute Manager. You know the feeling when something that you’ve done is ignored or discounted. Start with October 16th and then continue it from there. Managers are not mind readers. Be very specific, telling your boss exactly what they did that helped you, how you felt about it, and why it was important to you. The more specific you can get, the greater likelihood that you will get repeat performance. Natch!

2. A simple thank you goes a long way.

You know how you feel when someone stops to thank you. You might have received the quick text message of acknowledgement or a post-it-note left on your desk. We expect the boss to do it to us. But do we ever expect to do it in return. It truly turns the light on you when you express a simple thank you. Keep in mind; this is not sucking up to your manager. If it is not sincere, forget it. We had an experience where a worker (who thought he had a jerk for a boss) began to focus on what his manager was doing right. His simple statement of thank you and appreciation began to manifest itself in the form of more positive behavior from the boss. Amazing! Once you see it and say it- you get it.

3. Notice more!

There is so much we take for granted, so much that we expect from others. Doesn’t it feel great when your boss notices something (even something small) that you do almost every day? If the saying “whatever is recognized gets repeated” is true…then take the time to recognize the small things that seem to be done each day.

Here are some sentence stems that can start you off:

  • You made my day when…

  • It really touched me when…

  • I could not have done this without your help in...

  • You surprised me when…

4. Help them help you!

Instead of expecting your boss to read your mind…let them know what’s on it! Tell your boss what you need in order to do the very best work. And then, for heaven’s sake…when he does…let him know that you noticed.

Don’t just make a request. Tell your manager what you need and why and what will happen as a result. Believe it or not - most bosses need and want you to succeed. If you fail, they fail.

5. Remember that bosses are people too.

Aging parents. Troubled teens. Broken marriages. You name it. Salary grade and rank is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to troubles, misery and heartache.

Perhaps on boss appreciation day, you might step in the shoes of your manager and seek to understand rather than to be understood.

The grandiose sales figures they might be insisting upon could be coming from the pummeled fist of a senior executive or the whining voice of shareholders. It is not about you. It is about business realities. The brisk tone could be the result of too many conference calls and a mother in hospice. The irritation could be from sleepless nights and a pressing demand. Scenarios are endless. So are the ways you might use this date to think about Boss Appreciation from a spirit of generosity and compassion. The results could very well be astounding.

© The Resiliency Group and Career Systems International. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

Beverly Kaye is the founder and CEO of Career Systems International, and a best selling author on workplace performance She has worked with a host of organizations to establish cutting-edge, award-winning talent development solutions. Her books include LOVE ’EM OR LOSE ’EM: GETTING GOOD PEOPLE TO STAY), and LOVE IT, DON’T LEAVE IT: 26 WAYS TO GET WHAT YOU WANT AT WORK. You can learn more about Beverly at

Co-Authored by Beverly Kaye & Eileen McDargh

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