Love Your Colleagues Thirty Minutes A Week

Everyday, we are inundated with e-mails. I personally get over 300 a day, and other colleagues I’ve heard get 500.  Despite many of the e-mails being largely irrelevant, or impersonal given the blast distribution trend, it’s worth responding every once in a while with a “Thank You” and a recognition of what they’ve sent.

Most of the time all the emailer wants is for someone to respond and recognize their work.  How many times have you proceeded to review your e-mail AFTER you sent it, just so you can relish in what you’ve said?  Yesterday, I spent about 30 minutes consciously responding to about 12 e-mails which I normally wouldn’t have responded to, and it felt good.  Furthermore, I sent out another quick 22 e-mails of congratulation for those who got promoted to celebrate their success.  All replied, and were extremely appreciative.

50% of your work success is selling yourself internally, and the other 50% is selling yourself to your clients, if you have any.  If you aren’t client facing, then clearly your internal selling percentage goes up.  The whole idea of responding to many of your internal e-mails is to make the other end feel recognized.  A lot of times colleagues will send out blast e-mails touting their own success.  Instead of up-heaving in disgust, shoot a quick “Congrats and good work!” response to make them feel special.  After all, those who toot their own horn in this manner are generally insecure.

Reputations spread fast in any organization.  You want to build a big enough positive network over the course of your career.  With your big contingent of positive backers, promotions and raises come easier.  Organizations thrive on consensus building, and you must constantly build your personal brand.

Have you ever wondered what’s the matter with the job hopper who’s had 5 different jobs in 7 years in the same industry?  It’s because he’s good at selling himself at the gates (interview), but he’s unable to develop the support network necessary to keep him stably employed and rising within the organization.  He may say he’s jumping for opportunities, but we know better after the third job hop, he’s the problem and not the employer.  I’m always wary of someone who doesn’t commit at least 2 years at one organization, and so should you.

If you spend just 30 minutes of conscious effort every week reaching out to internal colleagues, you’ll have spent 26 hours of painless time over the year developing relationships.  Responding to e-mails is the easiest way to go, but if you can go one step further and give that acquaintance a ring, that works even better.

Goodwill adds up, and pretty soon, you’ll have reached out to everybody, and everybody will be saying nice and thoughtful things about you.  So before you mass deleted your e-mails again, pick 5-10 you’ve never responded to before and thank them for their information!

Readers, I’m interesting in knowing how many e-mails you guys get a day, and how you deal with the inflow?  Do you keep an empty inbox and read/sort everything?  Or do you keep your inbox quite full, and leave the irrelevant e-mails unread?

Also, do you have reservations about job hoppers?  Or do you think the days of being a loyal soldier are over?

Best,

Sam – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Resort at Squaw says

    Hey RB! I actually think this is great advice. To just take some time out of your day to say ‘thank you’ goes far. As an employee in my previous life, all I wanted to do was get some recognition from my boss. If he ever sent me a thank you email, I would read it again and again, and file it away in my personal folder. The recognition and thank you is like the super catalyst that kept me going, more so than money often times.

    We’re in a day and age where all we do is e-mail and send other electronic stuff. This is why writing hand-written thank you notes is so important and impactful.

    Keep up the good tips RB!

    RSC

  2. David@Dinks Finance says

    “Also, do you have reservations about job hoppers? Or do you think the days of being a loyal soldier are over?”

    Depends. I’m a young guy, and there is one company have my eyes set on and I’m going to do whatever I can to end up there. BUT it could take a while to get the credentials to get that job. Most other companies I will not have a problem walking away as soon as a better opportunity comes up. After all, the purpose of a job is to make money, and there is demand for whatever job I end up doing. It’s not like I’m leaving an employer high and dry, they can always hire some other applicant. Or, if they want, pay me more since I feel like I am worth more.

    Speaking from a 20something – the days of loyalty to one employer are over. We are a generation that will snatch up opportunities quick.

    • fs says

      David – Interesting angle you have there regarding eyeing a particular employer, and hobbing around until you get to that perceived ideal employer. I guess I never really thought about it that way, and neither did RB probably b/c we both pretty much went to the desired “employer” when we finished school and stuck with them for the majority of our careers (15+ years for me, 10% years for him).

      We’ll be interested in following your progress post college and where you land. It’s exciting times!

      Shogun

  3. Resort at Squaw says

    It is the biggest warning sign if someone has more than 3 jobs in 5 years at my old company. Nobody gets through the gates. Usually, those people turn out to be sour apples, or money hungry, disloyal people. There’s a reason why they can’t hold down a job. Buyer beware of the job hobber.

  4. Everyday Tips says

    It depends on your definition of job hopping. My husband is at his 5th job in 20 years, but each hop has been for a higher-paying position. He is in the accounting/consulting industry though, which I think is more ‘transient’ than other industries. I am glad he has job hopped personally. It has allowed me to stay home with the kids and such.

    I always swear I am going to keep my inbox clean and I never do. I don’t get anywhere near 300 emails a day. Sometimes, I Just don’t know what to do with the email as it comes in.

    • Financial Samurai says

      My definition of job hopping is a new job every 1-3 years. 4 is a standard set of years for doing things given our 4 RS in college and high school.

      When you say inbox clean, do you mean all read or zero emails left in the inbox with them all deleted or filed away? I read all of mine, but don’t delete or sort well.

  5. Charlie says

    I get closer to 500 a day but most are automated and dont require follow up. I used to email every person on the promo list each year. They were all grateful and replied back. The year i got promoted though no one congratulated me, not even the people I worked with so after that I stopped sending out congrats emails bc I was a bit let down. I was happy for my own promo but just bummed that no one reached out back to me. Ive moved on from that but agree that even a small reply can go a long way.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Shit, that really sucks that nobody emailed you a congrats email! WTF! That is so lame, which kinda shows an overly competitive, ugly side of human nature.

      Why can’t people just be happy for the success of others?!

  6. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog says

    The day really depends on how many emails I get, although a fair number of them are automated messages updating me on status of issues/projects, and others from monitoring software. Between work, personal and my blog, I’d say its 80 or so a day (in other words, i’m relatively unimportant). Usually I respond when needed, but if not, then I dont.

  7. Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom says

    I’ve job hopped throughout my career. The longest time at one job was 2 years. If you know a lot of people you get scooped. Plus I get bored once I’ve learned everything in a job – 6 months to learn it, 6 months to one year to improve it then outta there. If I’m hiring, I usually think there’s something wrong with someone who stays in a job for a long period of time with little to no advancement or challenge. It signifies to me that they do not like change and have too much fear of the unknown. Or, they’re not particularly career oriented and don’t mind working like they’re in Groundhog Day – the movie. Nothing wrong with that, depending on what you’re hiring for.

    In working with a fellow consultant that does process improvement like I do, he said that in the hundreds, possibly thousands of inboxes he’s seen, he’s never seen an inbox zero until mine. The inbox fu comes from productivity gurus like Merlin Mann:
    http://www.43folders.com/2006/01/04/email-dmz

    Maybe if people spent less time playing around with their email they’d be more productive and get headhunters and former colleagues calling them trying to hire them.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Interesting perspective as I’m extremely wary of someone who moves every 1-3 years because I don’t want to waste my time training them for 6 months only to have them leave shortly thereafter. True or false, i have a thought that job hoppers are difficult to manage bc they are never satisfied.

      All the senior leaders of my firm have all been with the company for get a decade. I don’t see a job hopper get to the pinnacle without a lasting dedication and loyalty. If so, it’s much harder IMO.

      • Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom says

        Consulting is a different world than you’re used to then Sam. In reality most of us don’t take 6 months to learn what we need to do since we have a lot of experience – that comes from job hopping. I used the term “6 months” pretty loosely, most of the time you’re expected to get a handle on things very quickly. I really can’t remember the last time I was “trained” – maybe 20 years ago? Even then we were expected to be self-learners.

        http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/02/14/reader-asks-about-job-hopping-how-much-is-too-much/

        From the article, and I’ve found this to be true for me (perhaps not for a long-timer like you):
        “…job hopping is a good thing for everyone to do – not just twentysomethings – because it’s a way to maintain passion in your work. Frequent changes keep your learning curve high and your challenges fresh. Finally, frequent job hopping, coupled with high performance allows you to build a professional network much faster than someone who stays in one position over a long period of time. And a vibrant network will make finding jobs easier, so job hopping will not be a difficult path.”

  8. Little House says

    I’m lucky that I don’t receive quite that many emails. However, my husband does and I’ve learned a little trick from him, at least for those who use MS Outlook: set up different Inbox folders and organize them by topic. For instance, I have a couple of inboxes set for specific clients and a couple based on specific topics. Then I can prioritize the ones I must answer and the ones I should to be courteous.

    As for job hopping, I agree with you. Unless they were a consultant or freelancer for many years, it does say something about a person who can’t commit to a company for more than 2 years.

  9. First Gen American says

    I think the job hopper thing highly depends on the corporate culture of the company. I worked for a fortune 100 and job hopped every 2 years, but if you were in a job more than 3 people wondered what was wrong with you. Now that we got sold, the culture is just the opposite. It’s interesting to see how much corporate culture can influence perception.

    Some days I go out of my mind because I’ve got that itch to dive into something new again and that’s just not how things are done anymore.

    • Financial Samurai says

      How often did you hop every 2 years? Why can’t you just stay in one place, and progress by getting promoted and doing different things instead? Did you want to job hop? Isn’t it stressful?

      • First Gen American says

        You definitely got used to the pace of it and I did start getting the itch to move once the 2 year mark hit. The only stressful part was the pressure to relocate which I managed to avoid.

        The other thing was that my company restructured often…so no matter what, ever 18 months you were wondering if you were wondering if you would still have a job. At the very least your job was shuffled to a new manager and his/her objectives usually didn’t line up with the last persons.

        Usually, you spent first 3 months figuring out how to do the job, 6 months making your plan of attack and then 1 year working like crazy to implement it. I worked in a variety of functions and it was almost always the same. The culture was also very stressful, so after 2 years, you were usually spent and burnt out.

        Moving jobs was not only a way to climb the corporate ladder, but to start fresh and get rejuvenated. It’s definitely not for everybody, that’s for sure, but it has given me tons of fabulous work experience.

        • First Gen American says

          Oh, and by job hop, I always stayed in the same company…it was much like
          jacque is describing except with consulting, you don’t always have to do the implementations stage. Most of the consultants on our audit staff only got to the solution stage, but then let someone else implement it.

  10. Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer says

    My company is not large so I don’t get that volume of emails, but I think I get enough!

    When hiring, we are very leery of job hoppers. It takes a good 9 months to a year to get someone fully trained and we don’t want to waste our time and money on someone who moves around every year or so.

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