Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Don't Employees Know Your Name?

Success.  Big title, big office, big responsibility.  Leaders must be really important.  I mean, just walking through the front door each day is an event, right?  A busy calendar, lots of issues, big important bureaucratic list of stuff to accomplish.

Yeah, right.

When was the last time you walked down the hall and the employees acknowledged you by name.  I don't mean the hallway that your office is located.  When was the last time you rounded on the employees for an hour and everywhere you went someone greeted you with a smile and said your name?

Rounding on employees is not a power-walk-drive-by moment.  That's called cowardice.  Stop and talk, ask what's going on  in their world, offer to support them. It's called leadership.

How About You
Are you going to spend some time out of your office today with the people that make your organization go?  Or, are you going to find a lame excuse to hide behind your desk -- again.  The employees deserve your time, and you'll learn something you didn't know when you started your day.

Oh, and remember to introduce yourself.  They might not recognize who you are the first time.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of NBF


  1. "Visible leadership is great - can we have some please?" That was the title of a letter I wrote to a divisional CEO in a previous employer. He never replied, even though I wrote him a reminder a few weeks later simply titled "Are you there?". He didn't reply to that either - though an underling did, indirectly. Well we don't want to go acknowledging that we have problems now, do we?

    It's funny how if not careful we drift into unhelpful routines, like your hallway example. This might sound a bit nerdy (hey I often do eh), but I live in a little grid system of roads and my walk back from the station can take one of a large number of routes. I like to mix it up frequently. This kind of behaviour reminds me of the need to take different routes in the workplace too. Where I am working currently they have an olde worlde system of paper payslips. These slips get handed round and I go with the HR person who gives them out. It's a great, disarming way to catch up with people and find out what's hot and what's not. What I find odd is I'm the only one who offers to accompany the usual person on her rounds? I love management by walking about.

    Here is the link to that first letter, in case you and your readers are interested:

    Great post Jay!

  2. I've been doing that... & it surely helps me a lot in running the company's operations butter-smooth :)

  3. Brilliant and so simple. We lose sight of the great things all around us all the time. We are so laser focused on what we think matters, when it's actually the people who with with us and for us. This never gets old. Thanks for reminding people that we should never lose site of knowing our people by name and on purpose.

  4. Doug - Thanks for the support and for sharing your letter. Great stuff! It's a shame some senior leaders are too threatened to accept feedback and take action. Love that you mix things up and make being visible a priority.

    Saurabh - So glad things are "butter-smooth" it!

    Steve - Thank you my friend. Not sure about brilliant, but sometimes the simple things can go a long way.

  5. Just reading this makes me so happy I don't work in an office any more! I agree with you 100%! As a former leader in a large office environment, I was consistently inauthentic....which is why I left. My direction was not to engage my team and support staff but to keep them at arms length. It seems that often 'managers' are apprehensive to get too close for fear they may reveal their vulnerability. I have come to learn that being human is a key element of leadership....too many managers pretend to lead by putting up a false front (I know I did).

    Great Post, Great Blog!

    Cheers ~ Dave

  6. Love love love this! As always you hit the nail on the head Jay. I can recall being a youngish 20-something in my first "corporate" job. Our CEO was frequently in the hall, visiting departments, stopping to chat. He was wonderful at doing exactly these sort of things. And he was nice and kind and approachable. But I was young and so in awe(?)/respectful(?) that even though he encouraged us to call him "Bob" I just couldn;t do it. And Mr. Smith was too formal. So when he would whistle out a cheery "Good Morning Robin" in the hallway, I would stammer out the classic... "Hey....(*crickets*)... Good Morning" (name omitted cuz I was too afraid to really call him "Bob' :-) ).

  7. Great post, you know this reminds me a lot of something Charlie Judy wrote about last November. The post is here While the two posts are different, they carry the same theme. Carry on Jay!

  8. so so simple, yet for some reason so so difficult. we (HR) need to be better at this and we need to help our leaders get better at this. thx for spreadin' the excuses!

  9. Dave - I guess part of the challenge is generating that authentic feel while working in a corporate environment. No easy task, but certainly something worth striving for. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Robin - Thanks for the support! Job titles do have a way of mucking up relationships at work. I only introduce myself as "Jay, from HR" to avoid the whole "VP" influence on the team.

    Dave HRCzar - Thanks for the feedback Dave. I just read Charlie's post...terrific!

    Charlie - Thank you! Just read the post Dave Ryan referenced...great example of that security guard and how he's figured it out.