Dear Leader: My Name is Important

dear leader my name is important to meThey were a small organization (by revenue and headcount measures) with a relatively new big problem: escalating turnover. The ever-increasing turnover was sapping their intellectual capital and employee morale. As one might expect, the owner hoped for a quick and low-cost solution.

A few interviews and focus groups later, a very low-cost — in dollar terms — solution was readily available. The leadership team was both shocked and abashed by the findings. Shocked by the brevity, abashed by the contents.

Employees wanted only two thing. Two simple things that meant the world to them. Two simple things that had slipped away as the company grew larger. Their asks and reasons:

Please acknowledge me. I know, boss and senior team, that you’re busy and have important work to do. But you used to say hello or shake my hand or even just nod in my direction. When you did that, I felt valued and a part of things. These days, there’s no hellos when we pass on the shop floor, not even any eye contact. That makes me feel like I’m just another piece of equipment, like I’ve lost my value and don’t mean anything to you or the company. Make me feel a part of things again.

When you do talk to me, get my name right or don’t use one at all. I don’t expect everyone on the senior team to know my name, but I know some of you do know it. So it feels belittling when you call me Bob when my name is George. Even my name badge reads George. I’d rather you call me “buddy” rather than get it wrong. Getting my name wrong says to me that I don’t matter and you don’t care.

The solution is certainly a no-cost one in terms of cash outlay. However, there’s a personal cost to the leadership team to make an effort to balance task completion with relationship building.

I’m hoping they make the investment. What say you?




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