Tracie SponenbergBy Tracie Sponenberg

Several years ago, I attended a conference of largely executive women leaders in the people space. There was one particular exercise where we introduced ourselves and talked about our companies.

The use of "they" language surprised me.

The majority of people, when describing companies leaders, their companies, and decisions or initiatives used “they” instead of “we.” (As in, “They sell X product.” Instead of “We sell X product.”)

I was really struck by that, as, at least in my past couple of companies, I’ve truly felt a part of the company and always use “we.”

I’ve seen this “they” language many other times, often from HR leaders. And lately, I’ve seen it a lot. On listservs. In online groups. And I’ve heard it.

If your company is a “they” not a “we” to you, you might be disengaged.

As people professionals, we talk so much about engagement but we don’t talk about it enough when it comes to us.

A subtle mind shift makes a big impact.

Where do you start to fix that? It requires internal reflection and a mindset shift. But it’s not impossible. I’ve done it. And you can too. Here’s a great article on the topic that can help.

About the Author

Tracie Sponenberg is the Chief People Officer at The Granite Group and responsible for leading all People functions throughout the company, which has nearly 50 locations, and over 600 team members throughout New England. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The College of The Holy Cross, and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources from Framingham State University.

Tracie is a sought after keynote speaker on HR, technology, and business issues across the country; she is a co-founder of DisruptHR NH and HR Rebooted; a member of the Expert Council of Select Software Reviews, a paper-first turned people-first leader, and a proud #HRRebel.

Tracie is also on the board of her local food co-op; The Harvard Pilgrim Foundation;  the advisory board of the Framingham State University Master's in HRM program and the advisory board of Families in Transition. She lives in Concord, NH with her family.

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