You’ve started a new job, and your role is to lead a team of talented individuals. You’re ready to hit the ground running and make some positive changes. Many leaders find themselves in this situation and shoot themselves in the foot before they begin. Before you can lead a group of people, you must be able to connect with them.
To manage effectively, you have to know the people you’re going to lead. New leaders should be meeting as many of these people as possible and learning names. The people drive the culture, so knowing the people is part of your responsibility. It is where your professional relationship begins, and it is more critical than most leaders realize. And it begins with their names.
History of names
In the past, a name was an identifier of who you were or what you did. Names were used to tell others of your positive traits, like being generous or honorable.
Once people found a need to differentiate between two people sharing the same name, they began using surnames. Your status or the job you performed usually determined your surname. Eventually, these names were attached to households and lineages. So on and so forth until we get to where we are today.
As names evolved, many became far removed from their original meaning. They simply became another option in the pool of names everyone else used. Even though names don’t hold the same weight they once did, they still have power. Our names identify us as individuals. A name tells people who we are instead of what we do.
Names have power
Whether you lead a group of five or a group of fifty, every one of the people reporting to you have individual lives. They have families and hobbies and interests outside of their work. Knowing about the people you work with builds a bond between you and them.
The stronger these bonds are, the more they trust in what you, and leadership begins and ends with trust. They aren’t working for “the boss” they’re working with you, because they know and believe in you. Truly knowing and connecting with your team will boost their productivity while increasing morale at the same time.
It shows respect
How many times have you had to remind your boss of your name or what you do for the company? Many times, leaders believe the most crucial aspect of the job is the tasks being accomplished making the company successful. In reality, the most important aspect of a company is the people who show up, day in and day out, to make sure the job gets done. These people deserve respect for what they bring to the table, and learning their names is a clear way to show your respect for them and what they do.
There will be time for change later
I’ve made the mistake of getting into a new job and immediately picking out areas of improvement. From there, I begin trying to make the right changes to get the place running more efficiently. It’s the way most new management comes into a new role. It’s a huge mistake and makes work-life harder.
First, if you come in and try to change everything you see, it tells the people of the company you don’t think they know what they’re doing. It destroys trust before you can build it. A better way is to keep your eyes open and make notes about things you would improve. Watch how things work and find out why they’re done before jumping into changes.
Use the first few months to get a feel for the environment. Learn the culture and the people who make up that culture. I give myself two weeks to have everyone’s name down and to make time for non-work related conversation.
Find out what they like to do on their days off. Find out where they’re from. What makes them tick? When you know who they are, you have a much better understanding of how to lead them.
People are the life source of businesses
Businesses rely on people to succeed, and they rely on leaders to manage those people. One of the most impactful things you can do as a leader is to learn your peoples’ names. Learn who they are and how they work so that you can be a better leader for them. We are individuals with our own personalities, values, and lives. When we connect with one another, we are strongest. And that begins with something as simple as learning a name.
Previously published on Medium.com.
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