Teams use the language of “WE”

Spike Jones overheard a colleague refer to a college football team in terms of “we”. This spurred a post about how great organizations should develop a “WE” Mentality to get employees and clients to feel like they are part of something bigger.

That’s exactly how great companies make you feel – like you’re one of them. Like you feel their pain and experience their joy. They make you want to talk about “our” and “we.” Not “them.” You are in the family. And the sooner more companies – from the Fortune 50s to the mom-and-pops – realize this, the better off they will be.

The WE mentality is critical for teams too. Without it, it is more likely that you have a loosely connected group of individuals instead of a team.

Spike is right to call attention to the words, because words both define and reinforce a team’s vision of itself. When a WE mentality is present, it is obvious in the language. Teams use the language of “WE”.

  • “We identified our values and established our norms.”
  • “We need to deal with this problem. What will be our strategy?”
  • “Our proposal was accepted.”
  • “We have to take responsibility for slipping the deadline.”
  • “We won the industry “best” award!”

What words do your team members use? Is it the language of “we”, “us” and “our” – or is more about “you”, “me” and “them”?

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5 Responses to Teams use the language of “WE”

  1. Yep, we is where it’s at for teams. It’s tough to get people to think in terms of we, when ME is what’s often rewarded; how good are MY stats, what’s MY schedule; what’s in it for ME. Showing direct correlation between the team’s efforts and the rewards given can help change the “me” thinking that plagues many.

  2. Spike says:

    Great application, Blaine. Thanks for the link love and keep up the great posts.

  3. Thanks for stopping by guys.

    The reward issue can be a huge, especially where team membership is somewhat fluid, making it difficult to attribute performance to all team members. Organizations that set up Win-Lose, competitive rewards can effectively shut down a culture of collaboration.

    I like notion of “co-petition” wherein team members compete to see who can contribute the most the the group rewards. It may sound Pollyanish, but it can work if management does a good job establishing the right environment, including not having people overworked and stressed out to start with.

  4. Raven says:

    Great post – I’ve linked to it at my blog because it rings so true!

  5. Thank you, Raven. I loved your write up:

    “We” means “Us”, not “You”, and it’s such an easy way to bring more of a cohesive feel to your group, as well as get buy-in and a sense of ownership from team members.

    http://ravenyoung.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!17376F4C11A91E0E!2273.entry

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