I love the concept of a fully functioning team, where everyone works to get things accomplished and keep things running smoothly. I love the concept of a team that embraces collaboration and solves problems together. I love the word “We”. Lately, however, I have found myself checking out in meetings that everyone is excited and engaged when the word “we” starts getting thrown around. For example: During a recent meeting in which our team decided we were going to take on a project I heard things like, “we need to check with all of our vendors” and “we will have to create these six marketing pieces” and “we will do a full cost analysis”. I began to think about who this “we” person is and how are they going to get all of this completed. And that is when I realized that we were killing our accountability with that word: We. We doesn’t take ownership. We doesn’t make a plan. We can’t be held accountable if something isn’t completed.

When the We’s started, I stopped. Once I started to address who the we was, our team became more thoughtful with the things that were needed for the project. They assessed the needs more and chose things more carefully, as the ‘we’ started to directly involve them. ”We will do a full cost analysis” became ”I can check on the pricing for this item”. I had ownership, responsibility, and an exact outcome. Once a deadline was clarified I could then hold everyone accountable. The We’s were killing our ability to hold people accountable to the production we all agreed need to be completed. I am sure that all of us have been stuck in the we’s before. If you use the People Centric Model for Effective Meetings and the 4 C’s during your meetings, the word ‘we’ should only be used during the Context and Collaboration portion of the meeting. Once you get to Commitment and Circling back, ‘I’ works best.

I still love the word we. But when it comes to accountability and productivity, we just doesn’t work for me.