March 10, 2022

Not We; You

Josh Gentine

With an emphasis on teams and inclusion, there has recently been a push to use language that includes we and us to demonstrate the focus on teams, collaboration, and inclusion. For example, “we need to do a better job at x, y or z.” However, this drive for inclusive, collective language has a time and place, and its overuse comes at the detriment of individual performance.

Let me explain. I’ve heard the following in meetings recently:

  • “We need to do more of X”
  • “We missed the mark”
  • “We need to speed up our development process”
  • “We need to close more sales”

While this language has its benefits - it is inclusive, team-focused, and accepting of responsibility around the room - it does not address the fact that “we” don’t make sales call, “you” do. “We” do not, as a whole team, fail to follow up with a client, “you” do. Simply put, “we” do not do the work, “you” do.

When you catch yourself saying “we need to do x, y, or z”, try instead saying, “You need to do x, y, z”. Being direct is not a license to be rude or insensitive, but rather it is a desire to be accurate and clear. Accuracy and clarity are sometimes all the “team” needs to hit the mark, close a deal, and ultimately, win. Don’t dilute responsibility in the name of inclusiveness, it isn’t fair to the team nor the individuals who need to learn how to be responsible for their performance. This mentality should carry through when you get that win as well. As you celebrate the team’s victories, remember to call out the MVPs along the way.

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