Knowing the names of team members
If a leader or manager remotely manages several teams over several countries and have several thousand employers, they will not be expected to know the names of team members. However, there are several situations when having those names to hand are vital.
There will be times when they are paying a flying visit to one of the teams or one of several local teams. It is a big mistake not to take the time to learn the names of their employees in advance. At least they need to be able to refer to his or her name in a timely way.
I remember many years ago, sitting next to one of the most senior people in a particular organisation. We chatted for most of the night. I learned a lot about him and his family, and he learned a lot about me. We discussed work at length. Because of the depth of the conversation, I was in no doubt he knew what my role was and where I worked.
About 6 months later he was attending a meeting at my organisation. I was part of the welcome party. When he entered the room, he chatted to a few people. When he was walked over to be introduced to me, I brightly held out my hand and said a big “hello again”. He looked at me blankly and said, “And you are?” I told him my name, and he said, “Very nice to meet you”. Ok, so I may be simply forgettable, and I do not expect people to remember everything, but he had even asked the name of my kids. It was then I realised why this leader was universally unpopular with his people.
Effective leaders and managers
Effective leaders and managers do not have to have good memories, but they do recognise the importance of retaining information appropriately about people with whom they work or network with.
They will know all the names of their immediate team and beyond, and take an interest them as human beings, not just workers.
When they are visiting new or infrequently visited offices or sites, they will ask for a briefing. They will find techniques, so they remember the right information. Where they come across an unexpected situation, they deal with it appropriately, so the employee realises they do care.