Moving From Me to We
July 21, 2016
I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day about organizational collaboration and how people often get caught up in their own positions, their own collective group of employees, their own departments, etc. Over the years, I have worked at institutions where individuals had become so entrenched in their own work, they lost sight of the organization’s mission. Their responses to requests were made based on their individual or department’s self-contained wants and needs. In essence, we have fostered a culture of me.
In a company (and in life), we have to shift from the me to the we. Every decision must be grounded in two principles: a) the mission of the institution – whom are we trying to serve; and b) the overall benefit of the institution – by this I mean, we must make decisions in the best interest of the institution versus our individual team’s or department’s interests.
This is true regardless of the size of the company, but becomes more of an issue as a company grows and a defined structure evolves. Teams and departments become more and more accustomed and entrenched in the way they want, and believe, things should be done. As this behavior develops over time, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the individual and the team or department to look beyond the me, and act on behalf of the we.
But by not focusing on the we, the employees, teams, and departments can ultimately put the company at risk for financial losses, some potentially significant. When everyone in a company conducts business, both internal and external, based on the overall mission and what will benefit the company, the overall health of the organization grows.
So keep your company’s mission in a place where it is visible. Act and make decisions that benefit those whom the company strives to serve, as well as the company itself. This combination will shift the focus from me to we.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Director, Graduate Studies