As Departmental Manager, I Vow To Learn Each Of Your NamesCommentary • workplace • Opinion • office • ISSUE 40•09 • Mar 3, 2004 By Ryan Meese Ryan Meese Okay, just grab a seat, Karl, and we'll get going. Okay! Good morning, everyone. Thanks for being on time. Just pull up a chair, uh, Tim. Tom? Tom. Pull up a chair, Tom. Well! I think this is a new record, right? Everyone here on time? Right, Judy? Ha ha, Ming's nodding. She knows what I mean. Okay, I wanted to assemble everyone to announce my brand-new departmental initiative. I know I've only been here a month, so you're probably all thinking, "Where does this guy get off making changes around here?" But I think you'll be on board once you hear me out. Here's the proposal: I plan to learn each and every one of your names. That's quite a task, since there are an awful lot of you, and I am very, very busy. I am departmental manager, after all. So I hope you'll bear with me during the difficult days ahead. Here's how I plan to go about my ambitious endeavor: I will make up mnemonic devices. For example, I will look at Ed over there and picture Ed as a sled. Why? Because "Ed" and "sled" rhyme. It's easier for me to remember a name if I can make up that little bit of wordplay that connects the name with some sort of fun image. Many of you will know the mnemonic device I've assigned you, because I'll be referring to you by it from here on out. Got that, Ed The Sled? Yes, this will be a lot of work, but I'm willing to go that extra mile. That's the kind of guy I am. There's nothing worse than a boss who doesn't seem to care enough to learn your name, especially when he's going to have to dress you down from time to time. Failure to learn employee names is humiliating for the employee and embarrassing for the boss. I'm not here to humiliate you or embarrass myself. I'm here to foster a good working environment for you, the employee, through the use of your proper names. Isn't that right, Ming Wing? When you get dressed down by me, you'll know it's by someone who respects you enough to remember your name. Once I know your name, I'll make you feel welcome, or I'll intimidate you, by using it every time I see you. I won't start working on learning your jobs until about a year from now, but I'll be able to acknowledge you the moment I enter a room. I'll say something like "Hey, Mean Jean, what's the score?" Then I'll ask you a question about your weekend. I'll be careful to listen to your response, which I assume you'll keep brief out of respect for my time. If you're a team player, you'll appreciate the effort on my part. Each one of you should realize that you won't be able to hide in the shadows anymore. From here on out, you're all going to be held accountable. Not like with my predecessor. He didn't learn your names, look where he is now: some other company. Okay, he may have known your names, but he was here for years. Besides, I'm learning them, too. With mnemonics. I'll try to incorporate a vague idea of what you do here into my mnemonic device, if I can. Some of you look incredulous. Well, fear not. It can be done. I'm talking to you, with the flag tie. I don't know your name now, but don't you worry. I will soon. What is it, anyway? Huh? Karzi... Karzikonski? Karzonski? Karzonski. What is that, Polish? I'm going to have trouble with that one. I'm not too good with ethnic names. I'll just have to play a little game I call Ellis Island. In an affectionate way, I'll call you Zonski. Or Kar-Kar, if you'd prefer. That way, I can play off of "car." Slow down, Kar-Kar! Put the brakes on it, Kar-Kar. Kar-Kar it is. In order to ease the transition, I'm asking each of you to write down your name, a description of yourselfplease be sure to describe any marks or pronounced features that might help me pick you out of the herdand a few of your favorite activities, especially ones that rhyme with your name. I would love it if you'd include a photo, but if you feel that would be intrusive, especially with the heightened terror alert and so forth, then I honor your privacy. Just be very specific in your description, and we should do fine. Also, from now on, when you come into my office or address me, I want you to say your name at the outset. Only for a month or so. After that, I should have a pretty good idea of who you are, unless you're not visiting me as much as you should be. Anyway, Judy is handing out the ID forms right now. I'll need them back by the end of the week at the latest. Then, on Monday, I'll begin the daunting task of memorization. It's going to be a bumpy road at first, full of mistakes and awkward silences, but it'll get much better as time goes by. Okay? Ming Wing? Pat Logvitch thewe'll get you something. Good. Now, everyone get back to work. Thank you, Judy.