A dear friend of mine, John Fontana, has joined the Woodstock Theological Center. Among John's many keen interests and expertise is the subject of faith in the workplace.
John and I are in early conversations about his plans for holding forums around the country to encourage business leaders to treat their colleagues, i.e. their employees, with great respect. No one is better suited to head this initiative than John. He has deep faith himself, has graduate degrees in business and in theology, and has served as headed of sales and marketing for a manufacturing company. Additionally, throughout the past 20 years John has been hugely successful around the country in conversations with high-level executives and leaders about how important it is to bring values to our workplace so that we treat our people with care and respect.
I could not be happier that John is here, in Washington, D.C., doing this work.
Inspired by John, I'd like to share what I believe is the single most important way we can demonstrate our care for our colleagues—we can help them do their best work. They want to their best work! Everyone wants to do well!
As a great leader, a great boss, or a great teammate, we can (and should) do all we can to teach, encourage, show, listen, mentor, coach, challenge, build confidence, give timely and honest feedback, make recommendations, and give all the support we can. In my opinion, this is what our faith should direct us to do, to have the trust that by doing our own best work and by helping those with whom we work do their best work, we will all be successful.
I believe that if leaders take this approach more often, i.e. a genuine devotion to developing all of our people, the productivity of our workers would increase and many companies could perform much better.
The fact of life is that when a company suffers poor financials, there is pressure from stockholders, investment markets, the board, rating agencies, partners, and other stakeholders to significantly reduce expenses. The first place to look is salaries, as salaries are a major expense. How many times have we seen and continue to see salary freezes, significant layoffs, reduction of benefits?!
I feel very strongly that a proactive investment in the development of a company’s people has the power to circumvent the necessity for these actions and, in fact, can produce fine financial results so all employees who responded successfully to personal development opportunities could be treated better and rewarded.
A proactive development of our people must be triggered by a passionate commitment by the CEO and high-level executives, by valuing human resources, and by encouraging training and educational opportunities so people may learn and improve their capabilities, and by coaching, as one-on-one work is the most effective learning and growth method of all.
Having John Fontana as a nearby resource is exciting for me. We previously did great work together in Chicago when I was with Johnson & Higgins. In fact, J&H began to use him nationally when they realized just how effective his approaches are. I feel John will be my teammate in encouraging a strong corporate commitment to the proactive development of its people!
Please let me know if this triggers a desire to communicate with me and or John. He is not full time with Woodstock Theological Center as he still has some other ongoing corporate and municipal responsibilities, but he will often be an available resource!