Have you noticed how some colleagues stress on the word “I” really often? If a project goes well, it is because of them, if it does not turn out that well, that’s in spite of them. “I asked her to go ahead and do that”, “That’s when I got this idea that I should…”, “I tried to tell them that it wouldn’t work…” sounds familiar, right? At the same time, you surely have such colleagues too who never take credit alone. You’ll find them always putting the team forward- “We really did try our best with this project. Maybe next time we could focus on…”, “We had been working so hard at this, we surely deserved this success!”. Both these types of employees might be quite proficient at their work but they are clearly two opposite depictions of workplace alignment.
Now, what is workplace alignment or employee alignment? If you think it’s basically getting everyone on the same page, you’re not wrong! But, it’s more than that. Organizations nowadays spend a lot of time, money and effort in understanding the workings of person-organization fit (also known as person-environment fit or PE fit). Workplace alignment refers to how synchronized an employee is with the work culture with regard to values, objectives and goals.
Why is the transition from “I” to “We” relevant here, you ask? Suppose that you’re in organization A where you feel quite like the fish out of water. Your internal communications are minimal, and you aren’t very enthusiastic about activities for team building. Would you regard all your contributions as individual effort or part of a bigger effort by the whole team? Now, let’s say you’ve moved to organization B where you fit in rather well. You get along with your colleagues, seniors and juniors, your team-mates and you share common interests and working styles, you can see your career goals getting fulfilled while you achieve company goals and you’re excited about the work you do. You completely change your internal communications strategy to make it more suitable to your current workplace. Wouldn’t you feel more attached to the shared goals at organization B? Wouldn’t you feel like you’re a part of a bigger whole and that your effort is just a part of the effort by your whole team?
This transition from “I” to “We” is something you can observe in individuals at your organization based on when they joined. You’ll see that newer recruits have a greater tendency of using “I” while people who’ve been in your organization for a longer period of time are more likely to use “We” and more collective words. While alignment increases overtime, there is no guarantee that it will. An employee who’s been in the organization for say 5 years might not be as well-aligned as someone who’s been there for just a few months. That is where hiring individuals based on cultural-fit comes in.
When you’re able to see your personal contributions as small but necessary specs in the larger picture and there is a sense of team spirit fostered deep within you, you know that you have taken the leap and have become more aligned with your organization.
So, are you an “I” person or a “We” person? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org