Have you ever heard the phrase: There is no “I” in “TEAM”?
Sure you have.
This phrase is a statement used both in our years growing up as a child and in our adult lives within the places we work. But how true does this statement really hold true?
Think about it. We hear it time and time again, but how many places do you know where the mentality is still about the collective “I” versus the “TEAM” as a whole? Essentially stating that everyone is out to better themselves through the direction of working as a singular force versus a collective force. Now don’t get me wrong, individual development and progression are important; however, this development and progression can also be obtained through collaboration as a team.
When I have seen organizations attempt to promote this “TEAM” philosophy, many times it seems to be at the line level; looking at the C-suite, it can be spoken, but demonstration many times focuses on the “I”. And this is where I feel many organizational teams begin to fail. Ownership of initiatives, projects, policies, work, whatever, is everybody’s responsibility – including the CEO. Yes, I said it, the CEO.
Understandably CEOs are not able to take part in everything, but they should be an invested partner with the workings of the organization. This includes interacting with employees at all levels with open, honest, transparent communication. Not everything will be open for discussion depending on the nature of the situation, but be honest about it. This will most certainly garner more respect that avoiding it all together.
This philosophy was most recently discussed when I sat in on a #LASHRM12 keynote session led by Mary Ellen Slayter (@RepCapital) with Rose Hudson, CEO/President of Louisiana Lottery Corporation (@LotteryRose), and Hugh Weber, President of the New Orleans Hornets (@HughWeber1) where both Rose and Hugh discussed the CEOs view of the HR leader’s role in the organization today. As Mary Ellen led the conversation between Rose and Hugh, the continued message I heard was that “we” are responsible for driving success together – we are all focused on developing and growing our people to drive engagement and growth; it isn’t just the “HR” group responsible for this.
Wow! HR isn’t the sole party responsible for driving engagement? Not in these two organizations.
Both leaders discussed how they drive the “we” focus and high engagement in their organizations by getting in the trenches. For Instance, Rose explained how she will hop in the car and head up to Shreveport, LA, or Monroe, LA, office to speak with employees or vendors. Rose stated, “this is without an agenda, letting the people talk and ask in person”. She went on to add “I need to be available to everyone, and use the opportunity through casual meetings to let people talk”.
Hugh explained how through all of the changes with the team, he maintains regular communication with his employees. He works to ensure people know what is going on by sharing information and that they hear what is going on from him. There are times in which Hugh stated “we have a weekly meeting where we don’t talk, we answer questions”, but there are also other times where he interfaces with his employees by having an individual conversation with someone versus applying a “one size fits all” approach.
Both approaches from Rose and Hugh are powerful and demonstrate how the “we” or “team” focus can, and does, drive a culture of accountability, determination, and loyalty of a team to succeed together. People understand no one person is above another – everyone equally serves a unified purpose, but at the same time each person can continue to develop themselves personally and professionally.
If you had to reflect on your organizational culture, does it drive an “I” or “We” philosophy?
What is your viewpoint – “I” or “We”? What have been the successes or downfalls?
At the end of the day, keep in mind no one person can achieve everything. It takes a collective group to get there, but it all depends on how you embrace and develop the culture of that collective group as to whether or not we can succeed.