Learn people’s names– One of my most embarrassing “work moments” was the day I was in a meeting with a large team from another department accompanied by four of my team members. To start, the leader from the other department asked me to introduce my staff who were with me that day. I easily introduced three of them and drew a complete blank on the woman’s name who was sitting right next to me. I knew her name and for some unknown reason, that day, drew a complete and total blank. Finally, she spoke up, rescuing me and said her name to the group.
I was so embarrassed, not so much because I had some sort of senior moment and a fleeting lapse in memory. My embarrassment came because I had failed at one of my basic tenets of management – know and use people’s names. At the time, I had 28 employees reporting to me, so learning and using their names wasn’t a difficult task.
Getting to know people’s names should be the first step of any good manager getting to know his/her employees as individuals. Getting to know your employees beyond just their name is vitally important to get the most out of them. When you know a little of their personal story, you can begin to understand when they can be pushed a little harder, or if they need to be cut a little slack.
You’re not there to be their counselor, though you should have an idea of what pressures they may be enduring. Do they have a newborn at home? Is a family member ill? Are they going through a divorce? Any number of things will affect the performance of the individuals and if you know a little about them, you will gain their trust and earn their respect. It’s a two-way street.
Start down that two-way street by knowing and using their names. A good way to do this might be by asking, “What’s your name, who are you and what is your story?
Who are you, and what’s your story?