Good Luck, Holly!

Today was the last day at work for one of my colleagues whose desk is right outside the door to my office.  She’s moving on to a new job, one that she hopes will bring her fresh challenges and a chance to continue to grow and develop in her professional career.

I’ll call her Holly Hockey, because she is one of the most rabid hockey fans you can possibly imagine.  When the NHL had one of its recent strikes and time passed without a resolution, she became increasingly agitated at the thought of a winter without hockey, and you could hear her spluttering about how it was high time to settle this thing and drop the damned puck!  Ask her about how she thought the Columbus Blue Jackets were doing, and you’d get a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the rising stars, the disappointments, and some likely personnel changes.  But hockey is just one of the things that HH is passionate about:  other key interests included her family, Dropkick Murphys, Irish heritage, avoiding painful sunburns, and a nice glass of Jameson’s to help reflect on a week of work well done.

She is one of those “glue guys” — people who help to make any workplace work just a bit better, by being willing to pitch in and help even when it wasn’t technically her duty to do so, by being a friendly face when you got off the elevator, and by laughing at your lame attempt at humor or sharing her ditty about the perils of drinking tequila (“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.”)  Over the years we got to know each other and could share a chuckle on a tough work day.  She put up with my guff, and I appreciated it.  You don’t quite fully realize the value and impact of such people until they are gone.

We all touch each other in different ways, without really thinking much about it.  HH was one of those people who touched her lucky co-workers in a good way.  We’ll miss her, but we can’t help but wish her the best as she moves on to tackle a new job.

Now if only the Blue Jackets would start hitting and playing some old-fashioned hockey!

Looking For The Political “Glue Guys”

Sociological theory holds that every successful organization needs “glue guys.”  Coaches of sports teams agree.

“Glue guys” are the people who do the little things that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, or the balance sheet, but that are crucial to moving the overall endeavor in the right direction.  On a basketball team they take the charge, dive for the loose ball, and cheer like crazy for the team when they are on the bench.  In an office, they might bring in a dozen doughnuts for no reason, take the new guy in accounting to lunch during his first week, or try to smooth ruffled feelings so a minor incident doesn’t become a major blow-up.

The “glue guys” typically aren’t perceived as superstars, and often their contribution is just assumed.  But if the “glue guys” leave, suddenly the office or the the offense doesn’t run quite so well, the prima donnas start battling for attention, and bad feelings start to grow.  Before you know it, people are hogging the ball and communicating with each other through passive-aggressive notes stuck to the front of the office microwave.

When I reflect on our dysfunctional political environment, I wonder if the real problem is that we lacki those political “glue guys” — the Senators and Representatives who, in the past, could swallow their pride, work with people in the other party, keep their word, and forge a fair compromise that would allow the necessary work to get done.  Now, it seems, everyone acts like a superstar — they raise huge amounts of money, they send countless overwrought e-mails soliciting even more cash by presenting opposing views in the most dangerous possible light, and when the party talking points get circulated they dutifully go on MSNBC or Fox shows and say pointed, terrible things about the other side.  How many of these preening politicos would take a charge or dive for a loose ball to try to, say, develop a rational approach to immigration issues?

I think we need more of the “glue guys” in Washington, D.C.  The question is, how do we accomplish that in our modern polarized, money-saturated, poll-driven political system?