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After a promotion or reorganization, people invariably try to curry favor with the new management.

But how should the newly promoted respond to sudden small gifts? [Small gifts might include: a box of gourmet chocolates, a bottle of moderately-priced wine, or sporting event tickets.]

Should a new manager simply say, "Thanks" and graciously accept "small gifts"? Or should unequivocally refuse such small gifts because they could lead to favoritism and dilute the meritocracy?

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    The answer is simple: if you are asking about the propriety of taking bribes, don't do it. The slope is slippery, and you can lose authority very quickly... – Deer Hunter Mar 25 '13 at 2:51
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    Your company should have a policy about gifts & other things along these lines. If you're unable to find this, talk to your corporate compliance/governance department, or HR. There's probably even an anonymous phone number you can call with this sort of question. – alroc Mar 25 '13 at 12:44
  • Check company policy, check corporate culture (is this happening with other new managers and if so how are they handling it). In most cases the answer is going to be "don't accept anything significant" -- as you say, the appearance of propriety can be as important for a leader as the actuality. "An apple for the teacher" is acceptable. Sporting event tickets are usually way over the limit. The exact threshhold does vary, but in general if you're asking this question you shouldn't accept -- just as you wouldn't accept from a salesman or customer or contractor, and for the same reasons. – keshlam May 17 '14 at 0:32
  • Note that if it's a group purchase with funds raised by anonymous collection from the whole department, that may be a different matter. Again, check YOUR company's rules and ask other managers what the standard practice is. – keshlam May 17 '14 at 0:34
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I think if it is a gift that can be shared, then sharing it among the workers or using it as a prize/incentive for performance would be a good way to both accept the gift and also dispel any sense of bias. Of course, if you turn down the gift you can also offend the person who is offering it genuinely as goodwill so you need to think about that side of the coin as well. It is important that you set a precedent and be consistent, but if you make too much of an issue about gifts then people might think there's more to it.

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In addition to the other answers, I would say that:

  • Non-sharable gifts should be kindly refused, and one should be clear and clean about the reasons: "I don't think that I should accept this gift."

  • The only exception is when it is a "community gift": If most of the department collect money to give you something (wellness voucher for instance), it is completely ok, you should show that you appreciate it, and it does not imply one person to be in favour (even when usually one person organises the others to do that).

  • Flowers are sharable (you place them in the office/meeting room), chocolates/coffee/sweets are sharable. Bottle of alcohol is not, unless you have a "Friday afternoon cake" habit where you could offer it to everybody.

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But how should the newly promoted respond to sudden small gifts? [Small gifts might include: a box of gourmet chocolates, a bottle of moderately-priced wine, or sporting event tickets.]

Do you have a common area where people gather? Water cooler? Pantry? Small staff break room? If their gifts are food, then just open up the box of chocolates, place it in the pantry & let everyone have some of it.

Now, this does’t necessarily work in small groups, but in large organizations it’s an easy way to deflect these kind of gifts.

If it’s an object, your call on what to do. But I do not recommend displaying them as trophies. That really sends the wrong message to other people on staff. I have known a few co-workers—not management—who would have items on their desk clearly on display as trophies of what they were able to get from others & it’s just obnoxious.

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If the gifts come immediately after the promotion I would graciously accept them and by all means try to do what Michael answered. Make sure everything is visible and in the open. Note that you already concluded that people who give gifts "invariably try to curry favor with the new management". That interpretation may be off. Maybe they just wanted to congratulate you and the gift was to celebrate it. You would have to refuse the gift as graciously as you would otherwise accept it.

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