A) is perfectly pleasant
B) is competent
C) is smart
D) is appreciative
If you’re able to check off A through C, you’re doing pretty well. You generally like the work you’re doing, the hours are decent, plus you’ve got fair pay, good benefits, and a mission you respect. The only thing missing (aside from peppermint tea in the kitchen) is letter D above.
Your boss isn’t very good at showing you that you’re valued. Come to think of it, you can’t recall a time he commended you for a job well done. No complaints about your work or feedback that suggests you have a ton to improve upon, but no praise either. If only he knew how far a few words of appreciation at work would go.
If he could just say one of the following, you’d be motivated to kick butt for at least the next year.
1. You’re Doing Great
On some level, of course, you know you’re doing good work. The feedback you received last year at your annual review was pretty fantastic, actually. You’re on track for a promotion, and you even got the raise you were angling for.
All signs point to you getting high marks and a big thumbs up from your boss (and your boss’ boss!). The only thing absent is the praise. Aside from the standard review, you can’t recall a time your manager expressed satisfaction in the job you’re doing. When has he ever said, “Hey, Darren, really nice work on the deck you turned in yesterday. I’m impressed.”
Um, never? And, look, if it were a choice between verbal praise and a padded paycheck, you’d take the latter, but why can’t it be both? Why can’t your boss look you in the eye and let you know that you’re a valued asset and that he’s duly pleased with your performance more often than once a year during the than the obligatory employee assessment?
2. Thank You
No, it’s not as though you think you deserve to be thanked for doing your job. You are getting paid, after all, and some might argue that’s a form of gratitude in and of itself, but when it comes to all of those little and not-so-little things your manager asks you to do? Couldn’t she, at least some of the time, just say thank you when you turn something in, when you meet a deadline, when you go above and beyond, or when she’s pleased with your efforts?
It’s hard not to feel like you’re taken for granted or that your role exists simply to complete your boss’ demands when those two precious words are incomprehensibly absent from her speech. Fine if she doesn’t want to say it every time you check something off the good ol’ to-do list, but how refreshing would it be to occasionally have your supervisor’s asks be sealed with a “Thank you.”
3. Happy to Have You on the Team
When you stop to consider how the team ever survived without you, you’re not being cocky, you’re being realistic. There are others out there who could do your job, sure, but you believe the work you’re doing for the department is stellar, and the culture fit couldn’t be better. So why can’t your manager tell you he’s happy to have you on his team? What’s so hard about letting you know that you’re an asset and that you were a great hire?
After all, it reflects well on him that you’re working out so well. Day in and day out, you make him look good by how well you’re performing. It’d be nice to hear him say what you’re pretty sure he already believes.
No matter how good you have it, it’s inevitable not to dream up how things could be even better. If you and your boss have a solid relationship, you should be grateful for it as it’s not the case for a lot of people. And it’s not like you absolutely need the praise to keep going—you’ve been excelling well all this time without it—but you would like it.
After all, it’s nice to feel appreciated. Lest you begin to feel taken for granted, consider what you can do to get your boss to say a few of these simple yet important things.
- Thank him when it makes sense to; maybe he’ll eventually follow your lead.
- Ask him outright how he thinks you’re doing—he may just be unaccustomed to delivering feedback, perhaps he never had managers who praised him.
- Inquire as to how you can improve and express interest in knowing what it is he thinks you’re doing well. Make this an ongoing conversation, and show him that you’re open to both constructive criticism and approval.
Just remember, you can’t control what comes out of your manager’s mouth—but you can control what comes out of yours. So if all else fails, build the culture of gratitude you want on the team by openly appreciating others. It might not rub off on him, but it’ll no doubt rub off on others.
Photo of people looking at sticky notes courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author