Why and How You Should Compliment Your Boss (Part I): Share the Love

Complimenting Your Boss Pt. 1 of 3

There are plenty of articles out there on why great bosses should encourage and praise the good performance of their subordinates. And yes, it’s part of their job to help their employees succeed. But what about the supervisors—how often do their bosses pat them on the back or even notice their accomplishments when so many high level managers are based out of a different building or city? Typically not as often as managers compliment their staff.

As far as employees, consciously or not, most of us tend to have the mentality of, “My boss should encourage me since I’m the subordinate, not the other way around.” Further, you may not know how to compliment your boss, feel awkward, or just get so wrapped up in doing a good job that you honestly don’t think about it much. I know I’m guilty of  this. Plus, it’s easier and more common to be quick to complain rather than compliment. With all these factors in play, many supervisors may begin to feel unappreciated, whether they are aware of it or not.

This is where employees can step up and help encourage the good. Don’t assume that because your boss is above you in the pecking order that she doesn’t need to hear from you occasionally that she’s doing a good job. Not surprisingly, managers are much like their subordinates in that they have feelings, stresses, and situations outside of work factoring into their performance and interaction with others. So it’s nice to hear positive comments, even from their employees.

Don’t we want to retain good supervisors as much as they want to hold on to outstanding employees? Why shouldn’t good managers be as happy and satisfied at work as those on the front lines like to be? Praise, kindness, and compliments go hand in hand. So in the spirit of encouragement, let’s look into this topic in this 3-part series.

NOTE: While praising your boss may help you up the career ladder (and though I try to keep most of the content here at my blog in the vein of self-improvement or career advancement), my focus on this subject will be more about encouragement for the sake of bettering others in the context of short compliments which can be made privately or in front of others. (More lengthy interactions complimenting your boss should be done in private with an informal tone, for example over lunch.)

Why Should I?

1) Manage Your Manager: Reinforce Good Behavior
It’s as simple as the psychology: Behavior that’s reinforced effectively will be repeated; that which is not will cease. Further, how much someone is paid is not the only thing keeping them happy and at their job: In fact, praise was the most motivating factor for more than 80% of employees surveyed by the recruitment group Reed. Conversely, lack of appropriate praise can result in de-motivation.

Encouraging your manager can help him feel better about who he is (and who you are) and like he is meeting employee needs and cultivating employee retention. Complimenting your boss is a smart thing to do because it means not only that you are taking initiative but that you’re managing your manager—getting him to do things that you need or would like (within reason).

There’s a wealth of opportunity with managers who are new to a department or company. It’s especially prudent to encourage them so they know they’re on the right track and working competently.

2) Improve Your Work Environment
Compliments can change the tone of the manager-employee relationship and make for  better and more open interaction. Even comments as simple as, “Thank you for helping me out with the ___ project,” or “I appreciate your cutting through the red tape with Metro so I could land the Stevens account,” would be welcomed and a good place to start. We spend roughly a third of our lives at work, so who wouldn’t want to improve their work environment?

“We notice and appreciate that you consistently pay your bill early or on time.” This phrase on my electric bill years ago stuck with me. Letting encouragement flow both ways and helping your supervisor feel noticed and appreciated can foster a more positive and pleasant workplace, boost morale, and end up helping the company succeed in the long term.

Thanks to Clay Faircloth, Pam Meek, Paul Havlik, and Terry Warren for their insight. Other sources:

  • “Office Hours: Bowing to the boss: Everyone Likes To Be Praised, But It Can Go Too Far.” Guardian [London, England] 9 Dec. 2002. Business News: page 4 by Sally O’Reilly
  • “To brown-nose or not to brown-nose?” USA Today. (Nov. 18, 2009): Business News: p01B. © 2009 by Del Jones
  • “Ways To Compliment Your Boss.” Asianetindia.com, 3 Nov. 2015
  • “Your Difficult Boss May Be Insecure.” Khaleej Times [Dubai, United Arab Emirates] 24 Aug. 2013 © 2013 SyndiGate Media Inc. by oksana@academiaofhumanpotential.com


Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want fast? Check out my book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow, and subscribe to my blog (kurtkirton.com) for free monthly advice on your job search.

7 Tips You Should Know to Help Find Your First Job After College (GUEST POST)

How to Find Your First Job After College
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

So you’ve got your degree, and you’re ready to hit the ground running and get your first job. But where on earth do you begin? Here are seven tips to help smooth the path and help you find the right job.

1) Have Your Resume Ready to Go
This is a pretty important one. Make sure you have a clear, concise and informative resume that is free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. This is your chance to make a first impression, and something as small as a misspelled word can land your resume in the “toss” pile.

2) Google Yourself
Many companies take the time to research a potential candidate. If you still have fraternity party pictures up on an old MySpace page, now is the time to take those down. It’s also important that you have a good representation of yourself on the web. Your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles should be good points of introduction. It’s especially worthwhile to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and reflects your skills and background. It should go without saying, but with social media, always be sure to avoid posting pictures or comments you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

3) Find Your Calling
If you’ve gone to school for teaching, then you probably have a pretty solid path you want to follow when you start reaching out to employers. If you have a degree without a specific career path (i.e. English, sociology, art history) then the water muddies a bit. The onus is now on you to find an area where you can be eager and put your best foot forward. Like sales? Consider trying real estate or advertising sales. Like working with people? Consider a job in human resources. Want to start your own business? Become a dog walker to see what’s it’s like being your own boss. Have creativity and interest in moving outside your comfort zone? There are lots of non-technical jobs in tech these days. Really, the options are endless. As long as you have initiative and a willingness to learn, you can find opportunity.

4) Boost Your Background
In the meantime, it’s always beneficial to add to your skill set. You can do that through volunteering (which is also great on resumes) as well as taking short classes and online tutorials. Many nonprofits will let you volunteer and learn as you go—especially if they need help with a website, grant writing, marketing, or graphic design. Remember, any new skill you acquire should always be added to your LinkedIn profile to advertise what makes you an even more worthwhile candidate.

5) Spruce Up
Not everyone can afford to go out and buy a new suit, but you can do a lot to make yourself look presentable. Be sure to always have an outfit ready to go for when you land an interview. Keep a shirt or two ironed, in addition to pressed pants or a skirt.

6) Keep in Touch
One of the best ways to stay on someone’s radar is to send a thank you note after an interview or phone call. Handwritten is better, though this isn’t always an option. Be persistent but not pushy. What’s most important is that you are following up.

7) Stay the Course
Finally, not everyone gets a job right away, and it can be very defeating if you receive multiple rejections. If you can, find out why you weren’t a good fit for the company. Maybe you can re-apply later for a different job. Be sure not to take it personally, and don’t let bad news keep you from being persistent. There is a job out there for you, and it will happen when everything falls into place the way it should. Good luck, and go get ’em!

About the Author:
Erica Francis is passionate about helping young people prepare for careers in a tough job market. She enjoys developing rich lesson plans and other educational resources. Some of her lesson plans can be found at ReadyJob.org.


Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want fast? Check out my book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow, and subscribe to my blog (kurtkirton.com) for free advice on your job search.

9 Ways to Dispel Thoughts of Suicide During a Job Search

Photo courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons

The holiday season can be so lonely for many or amplify stresses for others—especially those in career transition. Although a sensitive subject, I felt it important to share this section of my book to encourage anyone who’s ever had the thought of suicide skitter across their mind.

As private and ugly a thought as suicide is, I think everyone entertains the option—especially during an extended job search or times when they are not experiencing positive results from their efforts or are receiving a lot of rejections. Here are some ways that have helped me fend off these negative thoughts.

1) Make a list of what you’re thankful for—what you do have and the things that are going right for you currently. Think about what you’ve accomplished today, who you helped or plan to help, what made you happy today, and anything you’re looking forward to next (e.g., dinner with friends, that vacation or holiday party, buying something from your wish list). This should help get you into a more positive frame of mind.

2) Hang in there. Sometimes getting that right job takes longer than we’d all like because it’s a matter of timing. Perhaps the job is not quite open yet because, for example, the person in it now hasn’t been promoted or left to be a full-time mom.

3) Take comfort in the fact that God may need you somewhere new now, to encourage or help others or to bless your new employer with your skills, knowledge, and experience. Maybe you’re a high-level (C-suite) manager who’ll be brought in to completely change a location’s culture for the better.

4) Remember, regardless of your work situation or anything else that’s a burden on your mind during this time, your friends and your family still need you. Say it out loud: “People… need… me.”

5) Fact, faith, and feelings—I remember years ago as a youth seeing The Four Spiritual Laws tract. Simple as it may seem, the analogy is a train. Fact is the engine, so regardless of your feelings, remember the facts and what your actual situation is without a lens of drama or worry. Your feelings are a section of the train, the caboose. But a train can run without a caboose. So although your feelings are a part of the equation, remember Fact is out front, Faith knits it together, and Feelings are last. Put your faith in what God has promised in Scripture and in His trustworthiness.1

6) Journal—whether it’s a paper journal or just making a new document for each day you write, journaling is a healthy and effective way to pour out your sadness, frustration, thoughts, disappointments, joys, etc. This is not only cathartic, but it can be a means of sorting out your feelings and thoughts. Further, most times you can figure out a solution to what’s bothering you. As much as I can, I try to end the journal entry with what is going right or well, stating the key thoughts I’ve distilled out of that journal entry, and/or the things I’m thankful for.

7) List the good things about yourself. As stated earlier, most people derive self-worth and identity from their job. And that’s to be expected. Heck, it’s one of the first things someone you’ve just met asks you about, not to mention where you spend a majority of your time! So in seasons when you’re not working, it’s easy to forget your value outside of a job. Shoot for 5 good things about yourself…I bet you can come up with 10! These can be personal traits and/or about yourself as an employee. Consider your strengths, things for which others have complimented you, etc. You can even ask a close friend or 2 for their take on what your strengths are.

8) You never know what awesome thing is to come, personally or in your work situation! For example, I never thought I’d be able to travel internationally until one of the music dot-coms I worked for closed down. We got 3 full months of pay and some other great things in our severance packages. Then, in just a few weeks, I got a new job under my former supervisor at the next company he moved to, so I didn’t really spend much of the severance package and was later able to use those funds for a trip to London, Paris, and Amsterdam. I’ve gotten to do several other amazing international trips, songwrite with some of my favorite artists, buy a house without debt or a mortgage, write this book, and on and on. Think back over your life to some things you’d have never believed would happen if someone told you 20 years ago.

9) Seeing your pastor or a Stephen Minister can definitely be a no-cost way of having a shoulder to lean on and discuss thoughts, etc. that are too weighty to express to a friend. Search the web, or call a large local church to see if they can help connect you. Again, hang in there. This is a season, and better days are soon to come.

Don’t miss a thing. Subscribe to receive updates by email.
Looking for a new job? Want to get the one you want faster? Check out my book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow.