Q: One of my coworkers recently informed me that everyone always chips in to get a Christmas gift for our boss. I was somewhat surprised, because this was not done in any of my previous jobs. In my experience, managers were more likely to give presents to employees instead of the other way around. While I don't mind contributing, this just seems odd. Has giving the boss a gift become a common practice?
A: No, managers are not universally being showered with holiday goodies. However, offices do vary considerably when it comes to gift-giving for both bosses and coworkers. And within any given work group, individuals may also have different opinions about what is appropriate.
For some, purchasing presents for colleagues adds additional sparkle to the holiday, while others view this task as simply one more annoying chore on an endless seasonal to-do list. Coworkers may also disagree about whether their boss should be honored with a gift, and those experiencing financial stress often feel embarrassed by their inability to contribute.
Furthermore, when a group has diverse religious traditions, everyone may not be celebrating the same holiday, and some may actually be prohibited from participating in certain events. When you add up all these differing viewpoints, celebratory gift-giving becomes a potential minefield of resentments and hurt feelings.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
To maintain the proper spirit for the season, managers should provide clear guidance for dealing with this dilemma. Some offices celebrate with food and cards instead of presents. Others draw names for gifts and set a spending limit. And wise bosses firmly direct their staff not to buy them anything.
In this case, however, you seem to have encountered an established office tradition. Before the next holiday season rolls around, perhaps you can assess how your manager feels about this practice and whether alternatives would be welcomed. But as a newbie, if you choose not to participate, you unfortunately risk being viewed as a Christmas Grinch.
Q: I will soon be leaving my current job because my husband has accepted a position in another state. However, we intend to delay my relocation until we can sell our home and find a suitable place to live. Since I have no idea how long this will take, I don't know when I should notify my boss that I will be leaving.
If I bring this up now, I won't be able to give him a definite date for my resignation. But if I wait too long, I may not have enough time to train the person who replaces me. What's the right thing to do in this situation?
A: While your concern for your employer is admirable, this is a time to put yourself first. As soon as you mention leaving, management will view you as a lame duck and begin pondering your replacement. This could not only reduce your effectiveness at work, but also present a problem if your circumstances should unexpectedly change.
Once your relocation date is firm, you can then decide how much notice to give your employer. But until that time, don't mention your pending departure to anyone at work. Shared secrets have a way of leaking out.–––
ABOUT THE WRITER
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.