In my quest to go completely online and avoid installed programs, I started with Outlook, the ubiquitous email/calendar/to do list/contact list program. This has forced me to get to know my Gmail intimately. During my migration to web mail at work, I created a small hack with Gmail that looks very promising for those of us who, along with managing others, still have a boss to whom we answer. The goal of it is to help our supervisor see the best in us so that the information is fresh and available when evaluation time comes around.
This hack involves an idea from Bren, who used to be at Slacker Manager, called the "Yay, Me!" file. The idea was to create a file into which one could throw examples of things that one accomplished at work so that we could pull it out when our supervisor began his/her evaluation. Let's take that to the next level. Here's what I did:
- I met with my supervisor and discussed the Key Areas of Responsibility (KAR) that would form the foundation of my evaluation at year's end.
- I then exploited the "+" feature in Gmail addressing and created a contact in my contact list named "Yay", with the address being firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I created a label entitled, "Yay".
- I then created a filter that looked for the email@example.com address on incoming mail and configured it to send it directly to the archive, tag the incoming email with the "Yay" label, and then send a copy to my supervisor's email address.
- Finally, my supervisor, who is not a tech savvy as I am, allowed me to create an Outlook rule in her Outlook that looked for my incoming "Yay" emails and stored them in a folder entitled "Webb". If your supervisor won't allow you to create a folder, make them do it by sending them the emails anyway. Worst-case scenario is that they may want no help in building documentation for evaluations and will direct you to stop. In that case, adjust your Gmail filter to stop forwarding the emails to the boss, but continue to send them to your archive and labeling them. You will still have your stash of "Yays" sitting in your Gmail archive with which to measure the accuracy of your evaluation.
The result is that when I complete a project, accomplish a goal, or get an email of praise from someone about my performance in a key area, I immediately send an email that documents my success to "Yay" in my contact list. Sometimes I simply write a record of the accomplishment in the email. Other times, I forward a received congratulatory email to "Yay". Finally, if the email that documents my success is an outgoing one that wraps up a project or task and I'm sending it to someone who might wonder who "Yay" is when they see that address also in the "To:" field, I'll use the Bcc field to send it to "Yay". Either way, the email gets labeled as "Yay" and is safely stored in my Gmail archive, where it waits to be resurrected if I need it with a search with the advanced operator: "label:Yay". A copy then goes shooting to my supervisor's email and is tucked inside my evaluation folder on her computer.
With this method, I'm helping my supervisor build a portfolio of artifacts that she can call on when she begins her evaluation process with me. It doesn't bother me that I'm sending only good things to her. Supervisors have no problem finding negative things to address, but they seldom are "on the lookout" for the positive things. It's often said that it takes only one, "Oh, Shit," to wipe out a thousand "Attaboys". I'm just making sure there's enough "Attaboys" in my account to cover me should I find myself in the middle of an "Oh, Shit" day.