Over the last several years I’ve gotten into the habit of saving any “kudos” emails that get sent to me into a folder with the creative name of “Kudos”. I don’t know where I picked up this habit, but from time to time I’ve shared this tip with others. After letting Jose in on my little secret earlier today he suggested that I blog about it and share it with everyone. Good idea, Jose. Hopefully this doesn’t kill my competitive advantage :), but here goes…
When the occasional email comes in that says “Hey Dan, good work staying up late and making sure that foo got fixed. You really went above and beyond this time. You rock!”, I stash it away into my Kudos folder for safe keeping.
No, I don’t keep the “atta boy” emails in one place for an easy pick-me-up when I’m feeling like a dummy – though they do help – that and a beer or two or three. I have a more pragmatic reason for keeping them – for easy access come annual review and/or self-evaluation time. Prior to a review I will thumb through them looking for some good examples and evidence that I am indeed a useful employee.
Because of this evidence rather than just telling my reviewer “I’m a hard worker; I go the extra mile.” and hope he or she takes my word for it, I have proof to back up my claim in the form of a quote or two from those emails. I can then follow up my claim with “… and Willy, your boss, thinks so too – here’s an email I got from him in February where he said so.” Instead of just stopping at saying “I communicate well with others, both co-workers and clients” I can pull a couple of quotes from my stashed emails from a co-worker and a client to support it.
Saving, organizing, and using “kudos” emails has proven to be a good tool for me come review time. Even if you’re not a traditional employee this can still be useful. As an independent contractor having a repository where you can pull “quotes from satisfied clients” might be valuable. Or as a micro ISV it will give you fodder for that “what people are saying about Product X” spot on your web site.
Bonus Tip #1: A lot of written conversation these days take place in mediums other than email. Twitter, instant message clients, and LinkedIn are good examples of this. If you get an IM or other message that contains a special “way to go” message, copy and paste it into an email to yourself (along with who it was from, a date/time, and a note about the circumstances) and move it to your Kudos folder so it will be stored along with everything else.
Bonus Tip #2: The Kudos folder is a good place to store other things besides emails and “atta boy” messages. If I get a good evaluation for a presentation I did at a .NET user group I’ll store the results there. If I write a blog post that shows up on the front page of DotNetKicks I’ll take a screenshot, make a note, and store that in Kudos. If I implement a widget for Client XYZ and they see an immediate 20% increase in traffic I’ll make a note and save that, too. I may not use each and every thing that I put in there for reviews, but if I think it might be useful at some time in the future for some shameful self-promotion I’ll save it. It’s reassuring to know that if I ever feel the need to find some long forgotten piece of information like that I can easily find it in that one folder.
Good luck. Great Job. Kudos!