I had sent an “attaboy” email to one of the developers on my team for doing a great job in communicating and being visible to the rest of the team. (Don’t punish bad behavior, “catch” and encourage good behavior, right?) Not having previously received encouragement for anything less than heroics, the developer was perplexed upon receiving my email. Was I upset with him?
No, I explained, I just noticed he was being visible and wanted to encourage him to keep it up. “Consider that email a round of applause,” I said. Brian (another developer on the team) overheard this and then told us of his “Praises and Curses” email folder.
As it turns out, Brian collects emails from people when they thank him for doing a good job, or when they are upset and wish he had done something differently.
But he doesn’t just collect them — he reviews them. At least once a year prior to performance reviews. And sometimes more frequently.
Now, just to put this in context, Brian also uses the Pomodoro Technique in his daily work. So what we have here is an individual — a so-called “technical” person, no less — who:
- works in discrete intervals, identifying interruptions and tracking velocity
- inspects the feedback received as a result of his work
I gaped. What an incredibly good idea: building in the means for self-improvement that just sort of “happens.” No need to depend on the performance review as the only means of formal retrospection, simply collect the information as it comes in, and review at your leisure.
How many of us set up these kinds of mechanisms in our lives — feedback mechanisms which help provide awareness? What would life be like if more of us did this?