Setting: US research university. Non-native English speaker.

We have a great boss, however sometimes it seems that good things are not being highlighted enough. For example, recently we have published two papers, and it was barely acknowledged. One of the papers was first for the grad student and another took 6 years to publish (i.e. significant achievements).

I think that our whole lab would benefit from more affirmation of good work and good effort that is being made. On the surface, publications, grants awarded, maybe even papers drafted, should be celebrated and highlighted publicly. Same goes for extracurricular activities around the lab (there are few people who contribute significantly to upkeep of lab). I would like to see our lab's work improved, it is not just personal feeling of indignation (which there is a bit :-) As far as I know, positive reinforcement of good behaviors is a proven method of making things better.

How can I bring this up with my professor, or at least express that I wish to see that change?

My take would be somewhat direct:

I thought that we should celebrate more the achievements around the lab. We talked often about publishing more, so maybe we need to highlight efforts better. It would be especially great to hear from you more often when we do good work.

PS: As I am not native English speaker, I also would like to use some precise language. I have talked to senior colleague, who agreed with my assessment, but haven't given advice on addressing the issue.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is about academia not the workplace. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 8 '17 at 18:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this will be a better fit on academia.stackexchange.com – DarkCygnus Nov 8 '17 at 18:55
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    If i edit out academia and replace "paper" with "project", it will fit here? I thought my Q more about workplace communication than area-specific. First Q on this SE, so not sure – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Nov 8 '17 at 18:57
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    @aaaaaa Why go to a general auto shop, when you can go to the dealer? (Workplace SE is generalized, Academia SE is specialized) – Frank FYC Nov 8 '17 at 19:39
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    I always thought academia would also be a legitimate workplace = place where people work. – NoBackingDown Nov 8 '17 at 21:32

Bring this up to the boss in a private chat or status check, so that you don't come across as telling the boss what to do in public. A good opportunity for these types of things is soon after the boss brings up topics that have to do with good teamwork, etc.

You might actually get better traction if you frame this in the context of teamwork, so it comes across as an observation about team dynamic and what the team as a whole responds to, as opposed to a brilliant idea that you have come up with.

If you want to be even more strategic, come up with a way for the boss to 'come up' with this idea on his/her own, or at least to feel that way.

Think of ways how you could steer an unrelated conversation toward a discussion of team productivity, and ask open-ended questions such as "in your experience of being a member of, or managing research teams, what has been helpful in keeping everyone energized about the work and keeping the level of research productivity high?"

Make it sound like the boss is already using good practices, and comment on how the recent achievements are already evidence of his/her thoughtful leadership (don't kiss @$$ too much, but on the other hand flattery often helps).

One more tip: Generally, try not to get too much 'in the boss's hair' with this -- what I mean is, generally when considering some new idea or change, the boss thinks in terms of additional time/effort that it might require. Take preemptive steps to address this potential concern.

One way to do this is to provide some options for how to organize a recognition event or institute the recognition process that requires ZERO additional effort/time on the boss's part, i.e. where you or someone else volunteers to take care of all the logistics/legwork to plan, implement, and maintain the new practice. Bosses typically like initiatives that require no extra work from them more than those that do. Good luck!

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