Being Glue

Mike Crittenden mentioned a presentation by Tanya Reilly called Being Glue. Teammates who are the “glue” take on the non-technical tasks required for solid teams. Then they are not promoted because they’re “not technical enough.”

At first, my reaction to Mike’s comments was that this sort of thing didn’t happen - it was too crazy to be true. But I clicked over to the link to read her post to ensure my thoughts on the topic were correct. Instead of thinking it was too wild to be accurate, I agreed with most of Tanya’s points.

But I saw it less about an indictment of the promotion committee and more of a failure of their manager.

First, the manager should have spread the glue work across the team.

Second, despite the glue work falling on one person, their technical work should have gotten the credit it deserved. The manager failed them because they weren’t “allowed” to do that work. The manager’s one-on-one conversations with their direct report should have discovered the employee’s desire to remain technical.

Written on June 6, 2022