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Ungrateful Boss Gives Hurtful Response When A Manager Asks Him To Praise Hardworking Employees

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ungrateful boss refusing manager's suggestion

Perhaps nothing is more damaging to office morale than a manager who just doesn't appreciate the effort a team is putting in.

The story a management expert recently shared about an oblivious and unappreciative boss really takes the cake when it comes to this issue—and highlights how damaging it can be to a workforce.

The ungrateful boss flatly refused when asked to acknowledge their hardworking employees' efforts.

We've been talking about the ways Millennials and Gen Z workers are reshaping the workplace for years now, and that's in part due to the unique challenges they face when it comes to our ever-more difficult economy and job market. 

Management, and work culture expert Ben Askins seeks to help younger generations navigate these difficulties, especially the disconnects that often exist between employers and employees.

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An email he recently received perfectly highlighted this generational gap: When a manager suggested a boss send his staff some words of praise and encouragement amid a bout of low morale, he flatly and pointedly refused.

   

   

The ungrateful boss replied that they 'don't believe in praise for doing the job that people are paid to do.' 

"Hey, just want to give you a heads up, morale is pretty low at the moment," the manager wrote to the boss in the mail Askins shared, "so I think the team would benefit from a few words from you praising their recent efforts. I can send you a few highlights if you want to give them specifics."

The boss was absolutely not having it. "From what I can see," he responded, "no one has gone above and beyond and I don't believe in praise for doing the job that people are paid to do."

Ungrateful boss gives hurtful response when asked to praise hardworking employeesPhoto: studioroman / Canva Pro

If you're like most people from the younger generations, and even many from the older ones, you're probably rolling your eyes so hard it hurts. Askins put it perfectly, calling it "a really obnoxious take" on a "thoughtful message … trying to rally the troops." 

And, of course, this attitude that no one deserves to be praised for simply doing their job strikes at the fundamental disconnect between many bosses and younger workers, who are increasingly unwilling to accept a work-centered life given how inadequate many paychecks are nowadays, and especially how obviously disposable most workers are to employers. 

   

   

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Askins explained how the ungrateful boss' response was not only a missed opportunity to build up their staff but a fundamental misunderstanding of how jobs even work.  

"When it's going badly, that's really when you need a manager to kind of help out, step in," Askins said. And in this case, it couldn't be an easier lift for the boss. "This teammate said he'll do all the legwork, he'll summarize it, he'll put it all together," Askins said. "All he needs to do is be the face of it." It was a zero-effort task on the boss' part. 

"The fact he doesn't even want to do that is really quite a depressing take, actually," Askins said. Even so, the manager who proposed the idea was undeterred, pushing back on the boss that it would be an easy "pick me up" for a team "feeling underappreciated at the moment."

   

   

They suggested a brief meeting where the boss could simply thank the staff for their hard work. Once again, the boss flatly refused. "People already get their reward for doing their job," the boss responded, "it is called their salary." 

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Ultimately, the ungrateful boss' response showed a fundamental misunderstanding of how jobs work which makes all too many bosses unfit for management.

The boss went on to double down on their wildly outdated take on the workplace, claiming that "over-praising" breeds "complacency," a flatly ridiculous notion. But Askins put an even finer point on it: "A salary is not a reward, it's your legal right," he said.

And again, this speaks to the way our attitude toward work has changed so drastically, especially among younger generations. 

   

   

The disconnect definitely resonated with people on TikTok. "It’s possible people aren’t 'going above and beyond' because morale is low and they feel unappreciated," one person pointed out. "These same managers also don't understand why they have such high turnover," another wrote. 

Ultimately, Askins chalked this up to an all too common problem — a person in a leadership position who has no business being there. The solution "would be to not have people like this in charge," he said. "All they're looking for is just a whiff of leadership."

   

   

One TikTok commenter nailed the central problem: "That employer messaging the boss should be a boss instead."

While this employee tale seems like a rather deflating story, there is a glimmer of hope. The status quo can't continue if the employees aren't willing to put up with it. As Gen Z ages into the workforce, change is definitely brewing and it's been a long time coming.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.