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“My” Company vs. “Our” Company

Oct 28

I was listening to some of my recruiters talk to candidates the other day. I like to do that from time to time. You learn a lot about your team, your jobs, your hiring managers, your engagement levels.

One of the things I overheard was something like, “I’m going to tell you about the benefits that “MY” company offers”. There was another conversation where someone used “our”, “I’m going to tell you about the benefits that “OUR” company offers”.

It seems like a small difference, right? Both positive, for sure.

I will tell you, as a leader, “my company” brings me to tears. The one thing I consistently hear from senior executives is “I can get my team to care about this company the same way I do”. It’s a very common issue that comes up all the time. How do we get employees to take ownership when they don’t have ‘real’ ownership?

It’s a cop-out and too easy to say, “oh, just give them some real ownership”! Having an employee-owned company isn’t simple or easy, it’s very complex.

Using “My company,”, says to me that this employee is 100% in. Onboard. Wearing the logo! Reppin the gear! It’s not that saying, “our company” doesn’t say that, but “my company” definitely says that!

It’s similar to when you hire a new employee from a competitor and it takes some time to get them away from “we” vs. “them” vs. “you guys”, etc. “So, I know ‘you guys’ do it this way…” Oh, you mean, “us guys”, right!? You’re now on the team. You’re not a ‘them’, you are a ‘we’!

Sometimes some of the biggest changes we make to culture are simple changes in our own language, and what those changes end up meaning to all those stakeholders in an organization.

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