Not a Grinch

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
What’s the etiquette on office gift giving? I’m the supervisor of a
department of two. But my lateral colleague was sacked earlier this
year (for embezzling! and more, oy the hassles). I have been
supervising her staff of four for the past five months, helping rebuild a
shattered sense of confidence within the organization in the accounting
department, and helping these employees feel like people trust them.
We’ve bonded but they now have a new supervisor. My own staff and I
worked out a holiday protocol years ago: $15 max, and something like
earrings or a bottle of wine, nothing weird or too personal. Do I gift
the other four too? The same or differently than my staff? I like them,
but I am not made of money, especially this year.
Not a Grinch

Dear Not a Grinch:
Some acknowledgement of the traumatic year that you have shared
would be a lovely gesture. At a minimum I would suggest a card, and,
assuming you can afford another $20-$30, I would accompany the
card with some seasonal chocolates. Choose something that feels
special, and that’ll serve as a surrogate for the sweet relief you’ll all
feel starting the new year with all the old bad memories of 2010
behind you.


Most importantly, take the time to have a candid one-on- one with
each of them. Reassure them that their new boss is a wonderful
person and that life will be much better in 2011. Then make sure that
you have a similar conversation with the new boss to both turn over
the reins and let him/her know that the staff still sees you as an
emotional resource. You might also clue in the new boss about local
gift-giving practices.