The idea of creating a Praise Folder in your e-mailbox or in your file system may feel like a vanity project. But having one can be more valuable than you expect.
First things first, what is a Praise folder?
This is a digital space where you can easily drag and drop any “thank you for your help”, “well done”, or “pleasure working with you” comment received in an email, instant messenger or other channel. When I researched the idea, I found that the concept of a has been around for many years. But I first heard about it only recently from the film director, cinematographer and popular YouTuber Matt D’Avella, whose artful videos on minimalism and productivity I recommend.
So, Praise Folder - vanity or necessity? Here are seven evidences for the latter.
People (and you) forget
Unless you are blessed with some form of photographic memory, there is no way that you will remember the feedback you have received during the year. As David Allen, the productivity guru suggests, we should not try to keep unnecessary lists on our head. Instead we need to lay it all on paper, an in our case, in this “Praise folder”. You can keep it as a subfolder of your email inbox or crate a folder in your file system.
A track record of past achievements
There are many reasons we need to keep a track record of our achievements. Negotiating for a salary review or promotion are likely the most convincing ones. It is one thing to say “I did a good job”, and a whole new level when you can show what other people say about what you did. Feedback from others also gives credibility to your ability to do team work. There is hardly a professional job offer these days that excludes any reference to working well in a team.
Evidence-based feedback for the annual/quarterly review with your boss
Next time you are asked to discuss your performance, come with a new arsenal - the contents of the Praise folder. The Praise folder could also be an insurance policy against bad bosses. In this occasion I would define “bad” someone who does not recognise your true value. Providing this person with hard evidence could help change their opinion or else, you will have a valid reason to find a better job.
A feel-good pill for when you feel down
It happens even to the best. One day you feel you are conquering the world, learning, contributing, enjoying, another day you - self doubt and imposter syndrome overtake, feeling of weakness and inability to make a difference in a greater purpose. For this latter occasion go to your Praise folder and read what people had to say about your work.
Prepare for the next step in your career
When you go on a job interview, they like to ask you questions about your past experience. “Give me an example of a time where you were in difficult situation and you overcame it”, “Give me an example when you convinced your boss to do a project, while she initially was against it”, “What do you do when you cannot do all the work and need to prioritise only a few projects” - for all of those occasions the real life example may already be in your Praise folder.
You: "I don’t need a Praise folder, because I can’t remember when was the last time someone in this bloody company even hinted a thank you for all my hard work… "
Me: Let’s rewind! Is it just recent days, weeks or has it been months since this is happening? In that case do you really want to keep working for that company and that boss?
Nothing sells better than an honest testimonial
If you want to sell anything, word of mouth is the make-or-break marketing technique. If you want to sell yourself, your skills and expertise, your word will weigh much more if there are evidences that other people are happy with what you can offer. You will be reminded of the names of those people, who are ready to recommend you, if you go over to your Praise folder.
How to grow your folder? You simply need to be open to asking and receiving regular feedback. And mind it, feedback does not always taste sweet as expected. Second thing is to foster a culture of feedback in the organisation we work for. The best feedback is short, timely, concrete and objective, addressing behaviours and results, not personality traits.
Speaking of feedback, let me know if I was convincing enough to encourage you to start a Praise folder and recommend this practice to a fried? Or do you already have one?
Victory Corners, 2020 by Viktoriya V. Blazheva