by Bill, Management

You Know My Name… Use It

2 Comments 02 November 2011

Twice in the last month when approaching the hostess stand at specialty restaurants inside high end hotels, I’ve been greeted immediately not by the words, good morning, hello, or anything like that, but by a request for my name and room number. In each case, at the end of the meal, I was asked for a room key before being allowed to charge the meal to my guest room. Then, upon signing the meal tab, I again had to enter my name and room number. Funny thing… in neither case was I even once called by my name.

We collect bushels of information these days, to feed the ravenous appetites of our Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), and other databases. I often wonder, though, how well that data is used, and just how much of it is operationalized in the form of applied knowledge.

It was clear in the case of the restaurants that the hostess staffs were collecting my information not because they intended to use it with me, but because someone in management was requiring it for another purpose. What they (and each of us on a too regular basis) lose sight of is that when you take the step of asking for someone’s name, personal information, or opinion, even once, let alone a second or third time, we expect you to use it in a form that is at least visible, if not beneficial to us. Otherwise, it reeks of arrogance.

I saw this again yesterday in a visit to the emergency department of an otherwise well run hospital. Despite having proffered my medical information via both a url to a secure website AND in writing, I was asked a third time for the same basic information.

This week our firm is in the midst of working with two clients on their employee opinion surveys. In each case, these organizations have figured out on their own, with no prodding from us, that if they are to truly get some ROI on their survey investment, it behooves them to feed the results back to their employees, and, at the end of the day, to act on the information received. Otherwise, management’s reputation, not to mention investment will have been squandered.

What about you? Are you in the data gathering or data using business? Do you at least acknowledge the information that people have given you? (Note to recruiters: This includes you.) Do you use it well? Do you bend the data gathering process to accommodate the preference of the information giver? If not, why not?

As we march on with the vital journey of creating electronic medical records and ever more powerful informational databases, let’s not lose sight of some of the low hanging fruit that is immediately at hand:

  • If we know a person’s name, let’s use it. That will never offend them.
  • Let’s show a little more consideration in the data gathering process. One thing our survey clients both insisted on was explaining to their workers on the front end, how their opinions would be used (and not used), and when they would get to see the results.
  • Let’s resolve to being a bit more “subject-friendly” when gathering data, making sure, for example that any redundancy owes to real necessity, and not laziness.  Let’s resolve to put more focus on both the primacy and privacy of data, collecting only that which is needed, and truly safeguarding that which has been entrusted to us.


A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit theirwebsite, or follow him on Twitter at



- who has written 228 posts on Contented Cows.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Poignant, timely and so true. I too am working with a client to simplify, respond to and then actually use the feedback information they wnat to collect. It’s quite the challenge. Also, hope your ER visit was simple, fast and ended well!

  2. Karl Duff says:

    I agree with the sentiments of this post. When I receive good service or genuinely want to say thanks I make the effort to read the name badge and use their name. Or if asked by a supervisor or manager about my meal/stay/experience I will make an effort to highlight who or what added value to the experience. But sometimes you can just recognise people for doing their job, without having them go the extra mile

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

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