Where Everybody Knows Your Name...May 10, 2023
If you’ve ever seen the 80s TV show Cheers you’re probably hearing the theme sound in your mind right now, wrapping up with the line “where everyone knows your name…” Whether it’s a friendly neighborhood basement bar in Boston, your favorite local restaurant in your own hometown, or the place you earn your living, don’t we feel at least a little more appreciated when the people we’re interacting with know our names? This certainly isn’t something new… In his 1937 book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie shared that “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
With that in mind, think back to the examples I shared before contrasting the involvement of the management teams in just the recruiting process when I started at that local manufacturing facility in the mid 90s and just before I left in 2014. I won’t bother asking you to consider which would have made you feel more welcome or appreciated; that would be an incredibly stupid question… I also won’t ask which environment you believe yielded the most (and best) candidate referrals from existing employees - but if you’re not completely sure, you can certainly reach out to me directly and I’ll be happy to clear that up in short order! What I will challenge you to think about is how that distinct difference in involvement in just the recruiting process set the tone for how every supervisor reporting to those two management teams interacted with the newest members of the team as well as everyone who had been there for years…
When an owner of a company or an executive shows, through their own behaviors rather than just the words they say, that each employee and customer is important to them, doesn’t it just stand to reason that showing value this same kind of value would cascade down to every other level of an organization? Whether that’s saying hello each morning, making time in their day to hear a concern, or just being able to call everyone by name, it sends a message that the individual is just as important as any transaction being done with that individual.
Now how about the inverse? If the door to my office is always closed, I’m not willing to take questions in meetings, and after more than a year in the organization I still only know the names of a select handful of employees, how much value have I shown to anyone there? And if I’ve made it that obvious that I don’t value the folks who have been there for years, is it likely that I’ll show any value to the ones coming in new?
Those are pretty straightforward questions and the answers aren’t terribly hard to figure out… The part that surprised me the most though was how quickly a few high level managers taking that approach changed an entire culture, and how fast that change impacted the recruiting process (and overall quality of candidates) for a company that had a longstanding reputation for being one of the employers of choice in the area!
For more than twenty years, I’ve heard John Maxwell emphasize that “Everything rises and falls on leadership!” While I’m very intentional about who I will and will not refer to as a leader, that doesn’t change the fact that each of us who are in supervisory or management roles still have leadership responsibility - whether we accept it as such or not… How we do, or do not, handle that responsibility makes an immediate impact on the culture of our team as well as a candidate’s desire to become part of that team, and that’s where the cost of recruiting can become a significant profitability killer in our organization. To build a culture where we capture that lost profit, our actions can speak louder than our words so that’s exactly where we’ll pick up next time…