Are you collaborative or competitive?
It can be tempting to think of these as mutually exclusive traits, to describe oneself as one or the other and understand that description to apply generally to your approach to a variety of situations.
In fact, success in many situations requires strategic, flexible application of both.
Career advancement is one such category. No matter what your professional position, someone is almost always keeping score.
Keeping a results file is an excellent way to maintain your own set of back-up data. Let’s take a look at how this is done and when it can help.
A Results File Is Your Own Personal Greatest Hits Album
A results file, sometimes called a praise file, is the place to record and store documentation of your success, acknowledgements and compliments. In other words, records of things that make you look good.
Two kinds of records fall into this category, namely, those sent to you and those you generate yourself.
A Place to Put “Pats on the Back” That Come Your Way
Acknowledgement is a funny thing in the workplace. We never know exactly when, or from what source, a positive comment will appear.
Depending on the circumstances you may receive:
- An email from a colleague in another department detailing the excellent efforts you and your team provided on a recent project;
- A piece of your own work product such as a report, brief or letter, annotated cryptically with positive comments such as “great job” or “excellent work”.
- An internal newsletter article acknowledging your leadership and results on a major company project.
Really, there is no end to the format these comments can take. For most of us, they are rare, and valuable.
This is why you need to gather up and store every compliment-containing note or e-mail that comes your way whether from a co-worker, colleague, boss, customer or other professional associate. In short, if they’ve taken the trouble to jot down something nice you need to keep it in your praise file.
Sometimes you will be acknowledged verbally rather than in writing. It is perfectly reasonable to jot down your own note about that acknowledgment and add it to your file.
A Record of Your Success
Your results file is also a place to record your measurable contributions.
When one of your projects comes to a conclusion, and it is still fresh in your mind, document your contribution and how the results benefited the company.
Connect your work with quantifiable metrics – did you help the company make more money or save some? Get new customers or retain others? Improve productivity or morale or save time? Express these results in dollars and cents or percentages if at all possible.
Make note of your service in a lead role on a committee or special project. Again, add information about the measurable results of the project.
Finally, to be completely comprehensive, keep other positive or praiseworthy information in the praise file too. Did you do some work that went outside of your job responsibilities on a consistent basis? Have you pursued some training that supports your performance on your own time or at your own expense?
Are you concerned that articulating your positive impact and contribution might be hard to do? That is a reasonable concern but one you need to work through to find a solution. After all, if you can’t articulate your impact on the bottom line how can your manager or supervisor be expected to do so?
Use Your File to Get Recognition and More
What can you do with a well documented results file? Its three best uses come into play when you’re seeking a new position inside or outside the company, in a review process or negotiating for a raise, and for an on the job morale boost.
In some companies the annual review process begins with a self-evaluation. That is the time to turn to your praise file for concrete examples of results and positive reaction from your supervisors and peers. Not only can you use your file to support the evaluation you prepare, but you can refer to it to enhance your employer’s comments, if appropriate, as the review process progresses. Your documented successes, tied to the bottom line in advance, give you ample ammunition to support a request for a raise.
Similarly, when you’re looking for a new position your praise file becomes the evidence of the contribution you can make. Naturally you never hand over the file to anyone. But it is available for your use in preparing your resume, cover letters, and job applications. You can be sure you’re not omitting some valuable, positive fact. And you can refer back to the file as the vetting process progresses for additional information when you need it.
Finally, there will also be times when work feels particularly burdensome. Maybe a toxic boss goes into an extremely active phase; or you get saddled with a really onerous project. Your praise file can be a refuge then, since you can look back and have a tangible reminder of significantly more positive times.
If you don’t already have a results file sitting in your desk today is the time to make one. Make it your goal to check in with the file at least monthly to see whether anything new should be added. And experience the positive impact this unique and powerful resource can have on your career.
Anne Clarke is an executive and personal coach passionate about supporting professional women and others in achieving success however they define it. Learn more about setting goals for your career at www.setting-and-achieving-goals.com or contact her directly via e-mail at [email protected].