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Who Are You?

December 8, 2015

“Good morning Rose,” I said to the sales associate as she was opening her register in preparation for the store’s opening an hour from now.  Rose looked at me with an expression that was a combination of bewilderment and shock.  “Great,” I thought, “first day at my new store and I’m running around talking to people with my fly open”!  I checked; no, that wasn’t it.  “Is there money missing from your register?” I asked Rose.  “No, I just can’t believe you remembered my name” she replied.  I told her that a pretty name like Rose was hard to forget and then wished her a great day.  As I left Rose and started to walk over to Wanda I thought, in this instance, cheating was the right thing to do.  Let me explain….

A week prior to assuming responsibility for this new location, I spent part of the day with the V.P. I was replacing; she too was moving to a new location.  As she introduced me to the members of, what would soon be my new team, I decided at that moment that I was going to do all I could to remember the name of everyone I met.  I’d always considered myself to be pretty good at remembering names, but I wanted to make an extra effort to nail this one.  After concluding my tour of the store I logged on to the Human Resources system to review the employee listing for the store and tried to associate the face that went with the name of each person I met.  Fast forward back to my first morning at my new store…..before I left my office to greet my new team I reviewed the schedules, by department, for the day.  Once again, I looked for those associates that I met the week prior to ensure I remembered their names.

Why did I put forth so much effort to remember the names of a few dozen employees?  As he writes in his blog Fearless SellingKelley Robertson asks “What’s the sweetest sound someone can hear (other than a baby cooing)?  Their own name, of course!” One’s name is important.  It stays with us from birth to death. We work hard to protect “our good name”. Unfortunately, many leaders invest little, if any time in quickly learning the names of the associates they are relying on for their success as well as the success of their organization. How often have you heard the excuse “I’m not good with names”?  When I hear that it’s like nails on a chalkboard (if you don’t know what a chalkboard is, ask your parents).  What the person is really saying is I don’t have the listening skills, or the patience, to remember people’s names. Remembering someone’s name shows you care; you believe they are important.  Whether you are assuming a new position in your current company, like I was, or starting a new job with a new company, building employee engagement is critical to your success.

In my earlier post “Your Customer’s Must Come Second” I cited the Gallup organization’s work on employee engagement.  They identified one of the key tenets of employee engagement; “My supervisor….seems to care about me as a person”. Before you can show people “you care” in other ways, start with learning their name.

I confess; I’m not some guru that has an innate gift of extraordinary memory. By looking at employee name lists and schedules I guess you can say I cheated. So what? The ends clearly justify the means in this instance. I’m giving you permission to cheat too.