I was at a social gathering a few years ago. Chuck was speaking in a small circle. At the time, Chuck was working for General Electric, the large behemoth of Fairfield County… until it left.
I noticed that he kept on saying “we” when he referred to GE. ”We” are developing a new product line. ”We” are opening a plant in India. ”We” are buying ABC Corporation.
Chuck had worked at GE for about 15 years. He was in the upper half of middle management. In terms of climbing the ladder, he had done very well. But, I found it odd that he had identified himself as “we” in relation to doing things that had nothing to do with his work. Chuck was a manager in an area that had nothing to do with the product line, the new plant, and the company acquisition he referenced. But, in his mind, he was “we.”
20 years ago, this mentality made more sense. Lifers at companies had reason to feel so strongly identified with their employers. Today, not so much.
I bring this story up because I just heard that Chuck was let go from GE during its Connecticut departure.
That’s challenging in all the ways that losing one’s job is challenging. But, Chuck has another psychological hurdle to overcome. He is no longer “we” and that must really hurt.
In my career counseling work, I’ve noticed that those that were hired well before The Great Recession and remained unaffected by the economic downturn are most prone to over-identify with the entity that pays them money. I’m all for company morale building and feeling that one is part of something bigger than oneself. But, unless you are in the inner core of your organization’s decision making, you are not “we”.