From my 20+ years as a business executive and corporate lawyer, I have observed that all successful businesses have key people in 4 roles:

  • The Visionary – Someone who is always looking forward; understanding how the market is changing, generating new ideas and positioning the company to benefit from the changing market.
  • The Operator – Someone who is focused on today; detail oriented and action-obsessive, the person making sure the company is keeping to its objectives and the trains running on time (so-to-speak).
  • The Financier – Someone who is focused on creating systems, processes and protocol; and making sure the company is set up to achieve and fund what the operator and visionary need to achieve their goals.
  • The Glue – Someone whom people in the organization look up to; who brings the organization together and ensures that everyone is satisfied and engaged.

These roles can be played by one person or by separate people. I am most impressed when I find a complimentary management team each playing a role to their strength. I run for the hills when I find a management team of all visionaries or all operators. When I talk to clients about who plays these roles in their organization, they easily tick off the visionary, operator and financier, but often haven't considered the Glue.

In the past few months, we have all seen the turbulence in the labor market. According to the Prudential Financial Pulse of the American Worker Survey, one in four employees plan to look for a job at a different company once the pandemic has subsided. This “turnover tsunami” is likely the direct result of cultural detachment. We are just not as connected as we were before the pandemic.

We should ask ourselves – Have we lost the social glue? 

If you ask employees, a lot of happiness in the workforce has nothing to do with the work. Rather happiness is generated by the people, patterns and habits of our work experience.

Employees come to work because they admire their colleagues and feel supported. Employees may even find happiness in their workstation, the holiday costume party or the Thursday tea or Friday happy hour. Much of this has been lost in the pandemic.

After a year of working from home and zoom, employees are feeling disconnected – there is no glue.

Let’s find the Glue person in our organization and empower them to:

  • Create ways for employees to feel connected and engaged in a remote environment.
  • Help employees learn from each other and build new skills as we slowly come back to the office or move permanently to a hybrid model of working.
  • Decide what role your organization should play in our broader community, recognizing that employees may feel more connected to local issues of racial justice and schooling than to the work community.
  • Identify and offer assistance to employees in your organization, who may be suffering from more financial, mental health and family care issues than before the pandemic.

Our workforce is critical. Your success is a byproduct of your team's success, not the other way around. 

Let’s focus on taking down the turnover tsunami by bringing our organizations together and working to make sure everyone is satisfied and engaged.