However, there is one compliment that you should offer to any boss, regardless of whether they’re a raging narcissist or a brilliant coach or anything in-between. That compliment is: “I like working here.”
That sentence is a compliment when it tells bosses that they’ve successfully created an environment that, in your case at least, has resulted in high morale. In many ways, “I like working here” is the highest praise a boss can receive.
Nevertheless, you should never, ever express that exact sentiment to your boss. It’s OK to say something like “I think you’re a great manager” or even “I like my job” or indeed express positive feelings about your career and your relationship with your boss.
But saying “I like working here” is flushing money down the toilet and here’s why. Regardless of how much you feel that your boss is your friend and ally, one of your boss’s primary responsibilities is determining where money gets spent.
Expressing that you’re receiving positive emotional rewards simply because you’re doing your job at your current and at your current location communicates to your boss that you’re not at all looking to leave for greener pastures.
And that’s something you never want your boss to think, because when it comes to handing out raises, the fact that you’re basically happy (as expressed by your ill-considered compliment) implies that you’re willing to accept less compensation than otherwise might be the case.
Ideally, you want your boss to perceive you as a unique resource whose continued presence is dependent upon being paid what you’re worth. Implicit in that perception is that notion that, is that you’ll leave to work elsewhere if that’s not the case.
When you say something like “I like working here,” you’re implying that you’re satisfied with your compensation (and everything else) and are therefore less likely to leave, even if offered more money to work elsewhere.
There’s a larger principle here, though, that applies to every career: which is that doing what you love makes it hard to demand (and receive) what you’re actually worth.
I recently had a conversation with an unbelievably smart woman who’d created a consulting service so effective that she was literally turning customers away. However, when I gave her my standard advice for this situation–raise your price–I sensed an emotional reluctance to do so.
The root of that reluctance, I think, was that she loved her job so much that she was grateful for the opportunity to do it, and that was preventing her from charging what she was worth, which was (incidentally) many times what she was charging.
Seriously, one of the biggest hazards that people face when the “follow their bliss” or “pursue their passion” is letting their love of the job get in the way of making money–let alone big money–doing it.
So here’s a rule of thumb: if you’re being offered a job or a contract or up for your salary review, never start–as many do–with the internal question: “what’s the minimum I’d accept?” Instead start with the question: “how much am I worth?” Then make your demands accordingly.
For example, if you have marketing skills that can increase a company’s profits by $10 million a year, the absolute minimum you’re worth is $1m a year. That’s true even if you only spend a single day working on their problem.
If you can’t close on compensation that matches your worth, walk away. There is no greater pleasure than turning down somebody who wants to hire you or keep you on their payroll, on the cheap.