Give me a WE!

MB Piland loves Safeway employess who live the internal brandI've noticed that in some companies, an employee talking about the organization will say they, instead of we. That bothers me—a lot—because it's an indication that the employee doesn't feel like part of the company.

Language like "their policy," or "they prefer"—or even worse, "they won't let us"—distances the employee from the organization and from customers, too. Sometimes it even sounds adversarial. 

It always telegraphs to customers, vendors and other employees that he's not on the team and that something isn't quite right. Call it internal brand dissonance. Whatever you call it, it's a problem.

There could be several explanations:

  • He isn't a good fit with the company and its brand.
  • He hasn't been engaged by management and peers.
  • He doesn't understand or know his purpose and how it fits with the company's purpose.
  • The company stinks.
  • Management has been too busy focusing on the external and has forgotten the needs of internal audiences.

An engaged employee who's drinking the Kool-Aid never refers to his organization as "they." He says WE. He's in love with the brand because he knows how his work advances the company, helps others—and fulfills his spirit. (Watch a fun video from Safeway here.)

Take some time out this week to listen to the dialogue inside and outside your organization. I hope you're hearing "we" loud and clear.

Pass the Kool-Aid. Cheers!

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