Do I have to buy my horrible boss a holiday gift?

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My colleagues buy our boss a present. Some chip in and go in on it together. I don’t really like my boss and I don’t think it’s appropriate that we buy a gift. What’s the protocol?

This is your time of year, my green friend, but lest you really be called a Grinch, you should give this some further consideration. You definitely are not obligated to give the boss anything. In fact, it’s unusual for employees to buy gifts for the boss unless you have a close relationship, in which case you will know exactly what’s appropriate for the situation. Given your feelings about your boss, let’s eliminate the individual present option. So we’re down to you chipping in and having your name on the card or being the lone person not to participate. Either is completely fine. It’s just a matter of how important it is to you to make the statement by not participating versus going along. Don’t make a big deal about making a statement by declining to join the team gift. Just politely decline and wish everyone, including your boss, a happy and healthy holiday season.

I just started a new job and I got off on the wrong foot with my new colleagues. I didn’t intend to, but they are a difficult bunch to crack and I think I tried too hard. Should I acknowledge the dynamic and ask for a redo or just work to change the perception?

What did you do? Make a joke about someone’s new hairstyle? Criticize their work? Gossip behind their back? Sometimes the perception of how others view us is not the reality, so before you compound anything, make certain that your colleagues really don’t like the new kid on the block. If what you say is true, then it’s a difficult situation. It takes time to change negative first impressions, but it’s hard not to give someone a second chance who owns a misstep, expresses a sincere apology and asks for a mulligan — unless of course the infraction was egregious, in which case you’ve got a longer and tougher road ahead. We tend to be a forgiving species though, and this is a special time of year when hearts are open, so I’d opt for asking for a second chance and not blowing it again.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.

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