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Develops Relationship and Loyalties

We can't manage what we don't know. Ask any number of bosses if they know their subordinates and they will say of course they do. Do you know your subordinates birthdays? The names of their children? Important anniversaries in their lives? What date did they join you, get their last promotion, have a major achievement at work or in the community? What are their aspirations for the future?

Priests, ministers know the importance of being familiar with details than are significant to the individuals concerned and convince them that you know who they really are. It is common practice for the local parson to keep a little black book in which all the major life events of his parishioners are recorded. Nobody really expects him to remember all these details, but while they don't acknowledge the existence of the little black book either, they are nonetheless filled with warmth and admiration when he calls round to see Mrs. Plunket and asks how Annie is getting on tat college and whether Simon has got over the measles.

The fact that he has hundreds of parishioners and most of them don't come regularly, does not make this an insincere exercise. The sincerity is in the wish to be in touch with important events in their lives and to ensure that he is finding out about them and recording them. Motivating dispersed parishioners with no short-term bonus scheme is quite a daunting task.

Keeping a handy note of such details of your staff would at least avoid the embarrassing situation of one boss who welcomed his subordinate into his office for an annual appraisal with the words, 'ah! come in Keith, how are you?', only to get the response, "Actually I', called John; I'm fine, thank you'. Sure enough 'Keith' was the first name on the form the boss had got from personnel, but the subordinate had always been called by his second name!

Bosses who walk around their patch regularly, stop to chat briefly at coffee time and take a personal interest in their staff don't make this kind of mistake. Even with a small number of staff it is useful to keep a notebook or a card index of important personal details, interests and major achievements to help you build up a picture of the whole person. Without this positive effort we see only the tip of the iceberg of each individual.

The better we know someone, the easier it is to engage their interest in the work and goals of the department and to develop their abilities in achieving them. The greatest compliment is to have someone sufficiently interested in you to know something important about you - especially if it is the boss. Such attention to detail also develops relationship and loyalties which can extend to the whole team.

This is the data collection side which, while important, is only part of the story. Getting to know people well depends on being able to communicate with them. This does not just mean talking to them, but listening to them and understanding their point of view whether you agree with it or not. Effective communication, whether verbal or written, always begins with putting yourself in the other person's shoes. To use an American phrase - starting where they are at.