What’s in a name and a job? To most subordinates at work, if it is their name and their job we are discussing, a great deal.

During a recent business trip, I was asked what I did on such trips by two young food service professionals in the hotel where I was staying. I explained that I was a consultant and that on this particular trip I was conducting my management workshop for fairly new managers. Both, immediately suggested that their managers certainly could use some help from me. “My manager“, said one, “doesn’t know my name and I’ve been working for him for months”. “My manager”, said the other, “hasn’t a clue about what I do here every day”.

Admittedly, this was their perspective and I had no opportunity to verify their claims with the managers in question. Still, these young professionals raised realities that I know from experience exist in many workplaces.

Looking at this from the perspective of any subordinate, it is only reasonable to expect that our boss will know our names and, in short order, gain a general sense of the work we do to add value to the organization. Our names are important because they represent our most basic identity to the outside world . What we do each day is important because it is supposedly what we get paid for and is what our boss is supposedly evaluating for quality on a regular basis.

It is hard to like, respect, or want to follow a manager who cannot master a name or seem to care about what his or her subordinate’s work consists of on a daily basis.

For most managers, mastering names and jobs will mean the need to dedicate some time to the effort. I for one, for some reason, always found remembering names a challenge, especially as the number of subordinates assigned to me increased over the years. Faces were usually no problem and I often was able to easily associate the face with exactly what an individual did each day. But the name? But the name? I needed to work harder at that to complete the picture.

The fact that it requires work, hard work for some, and is time away from something else is never an acceptable excuse for not doing it. The price you pay among your subordinates for appearing to have so little interest in who they are and/or what they do, undermines your overall ability to guide, motivate, and fairly evaluate those entrusted to your management skills. Perhaps worst of all, it diminishes you as an authority figure among your subordinates and lessens you ability to persuade them to follow your lead.

As a manager, do not let this happen to you. Learn the names and jobs of those you manage

Categories: Managing & Leading, Managing People, Motivating Top Performance

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