What Do You Say in a Complimentary Letter About Your Boss?

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Whether you're writing a letter to recommend your boss for manager-of-the-year award or to simply let the human resources department know that you work for an awesome leader, there's a way to convey these accolades so they're well received by your boss and the person to whom you're writing the letter.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Compliment your boss by highlighting her expertise and work-related character traits.

Identify Your Audience

The format and tone of the letter depends on your audience. If you work for a large organization and you're nominating your boss for an award, it's likely that your audience is the nomination committee or the organization's executive leadership team. Otherwise, your letter might be directed to the human resources department. For an informal letter to compliment your boss on her leadership style and how she manages the department, your audience could be the company president or the human resources director. Before you draft the letter, determine to whom you should address the commendation.

Not Too Flowery and Not Too Stiff

An overly formal letter to compliment your boss might not be relatable if the letter is shared during an awards program. But even if it goes to only the HR director, don't let your letter scream elitism. Write the compliments in plain English; don't use lofty terms to describe why your boss makes your job enjoyable.

You could write, "Ms. Smith embraces principles of exemplary leaders, and thus, she models behavior to which all staff should aspire." But your letter would be far more relatable if you write, "Ms. Smith is an awesome manager and a role model for all of us." Follow with at least one example of why you think your boss is so great.

More Is Not Better

Keep your comments succinct. The more you write, the more difficult it is to keep the reader's interest. The exception is if your letter is being used as a means to introduce your boss during an awards ceremony in which case a couple of examples of your boss' leadership competencies might be appropriate. And if you're writing for a special event, the letter should include an introduction or a brief bio that gives the audience some background information about your boss. But if you aren't writing a formal letter that will become part of the awards program, be succinct and, more important, be relevant.

Don't Make It About You

Avoid writing compliments that only you and your boss will understand, such as instances where her role as a manager has benefited you personally or circumstances that only the two of you can relate to. Be general in terms of the examples you provide in your letter. An example should include supervisory skills that touch all of the staff, not just you.

One-on-One Compliments

There are times when you want to compliment your boss in a personal note. In this case, a short handwritten note is appropriate. Here is where you can be more personal about how his leadership skills have made an impression on you. If you have personal stationery, that lends the perfect touch for a handwritten thank you note to show your appreciation for the way he has helped you to become a successful employee.

References

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.