Two colleagues sitting having a coffee

Remember personal things

How it can help you build lasting connections in leadership

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
Two colleagues sitting having a coffee

Everyone has a life outside of work and everyone wants to be remembered. Leaders can demonstrate care and concern for their staff as individuals if they can remember small, personal things that they know are important to each member of their team.

Now most leaders become stressed at the thought of having to remember personal details about their staff because they have enough difficulty remembering the details about their own family, let alone all of their direct reports.

However, the suggestion here is not that you have a detailed dossier on each of your staff. It is simply that you care enough to remember a few small things about them, that makes your interactions with them different than with anyone else.

It could be as easy as remembering their birthday and there are plenty of phone applications that can help you keep track of this detail.

Other examples could include an enquiry about a sick relative, asking about how their house-hunting was progressing or even including the name of their beloved cat on their Christmas card.

The possibilities are endless because we are all unique – and that’s the point.

A message or comment from your leader that can only possibly be for you because of its unique content is much more powerful and personal than a generic message where your name could be substituted by a dozen others without any impact.

One caveat to this suggestion is that you must have at least implied consent to use this piece of personal information. This level of consent is that you have heard the information directly from that person in a public forum or one-on-one.

If the person has shared the information in your presence, then they know you know it. Even if you have heard the information directly, use it cautiously and respectfully, and watch carefully for any signs of embarrassment or concern.

If you do get a sense the other person is uncomfortable, then back off and respect the signals you are receiving.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Listen carefully when your staff disclose aspects of their personal lives publicly.

You will get a sense of how important the issue is to them. When appropriate, show your interest or concern by asking about the topic.

They will likely be impressed that you remembered, and appreciative of your interest.

At the same time, be willing to share a little about your life outside of work.