One Simple Secret for Remembering Every Employee's Name
By Liz Tay
The human mind can only manage so many relationships. So how do you keep all those names and faces straight?
Back in 1992, British professor Robin Dunbar theorized that people could only maintain a maximum of 150 stable relationships due to limitations of the human brain.
That’s a problem in the modern business world, in which companies comprise hundreds, or even thousands, of people, and just about everyone you meet wants to stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Atlassian president Jay Simons, who manages a team of about 260 people in San Francisco, has a nifty trick for remembering the basics about everyone who works in the U.S. office.
"We’re not all going to go out simultaneously, because there’s not a bar big enough to hold us all, but I know everybody, and I hang out with a bunch of people," he said.
"I pride myself on knowing every name in the [Atlassian] building, in part because I work really hard at it."
Here’s how he does it:
We do an all-staff meeting every month, and we have a tradition where we introduce new employees and they have to come up and say who they are, what they’re going to do here and where they last were.
One thing I insist on is I actually go around and take their picture for the [slide] deck that we include them in.
It’s the one opportunity where I can make sure that I can mentally record who they are. So I take their picture and I meet them, so I’ve had two minutes with them where I’m going to say 'hi.' I may not see them [again] for the next couple of weeks.
Atlassian was founded by Sydneysiders Mike Cannon-Brooks and Scott Farquhar in 2001 and has grown rapidly, from two employees to an organization of 750, in its 12 years.