Delegates to the upcoming NACPA convocation April 22-24 in Niagara Falls will have an opportunity to hear three excellent keynote speakers, including Tom Green, mediator and HR coach, on “Silence Is Not a Golden: What Your Parish Staff Is Not Discussing.”
To introduce Tom, we asked him to respond to five questions, including a brief video response.
NACPA: As a mediator, you have extensive experience in resolving organizational conflicts. What are the chief causes of internal strife?
Tom: The chief causes of conflict are universal and timeless:
- not listening,
- not keeping others informed,
- clinging to being wronged.
We also see problems increase in intensity simply by going unaddressed and being allowed to fester. Most conflicts can be resolved easier and sooner (before they grow worse) when they are brought up earlier. Ironically, most conflict does not typically originate with major situations. Instead, they are often triggered by unintentional mistakes, missteps, and poor judgments, which are usually communicated and enlarged through water-cooler conversation—aka rumors and gossip.
The most powerful conflict resolution and peacemaking actions are agree to: let go of the past by not dwelling on problems and talking about them, overlook minor grievances and offenses, and honor others by speaking about matters of conflict directly, graciously and with dignity.
NACPA: What are your three key guidelines to starting a new job effectively?
Tom: If you haven’t already asked these questions in the job interview, then be sure to ask your manager and peers as soon as you start your new job:
- What are the most important contributions you would expect from me in the first 6 – 12 months?
- How will you measure my performance?
- What are your highest priorities for the areas you lead? For this role?
- What situations need immediate attention from me?
- Who are the key people I need to understand, develop relationships with and deliver results to?
Second, remember that more important than getting ahead is get along with others. Finally, be yourself—that’s who your new employer hired.
NACPA: At the same time, you specialize in coaching people on “leaving well” — transitioning from one position to another. What advice do you offer your clients?
Tom: Leaving well means contributing and leading humbly until you walk out the door. I suggest three areas of focus.
- For the organization: Raise awareness of issues currently in progress that you’re leaving behind. Never intentionally leave a problem buried.
- For your team: Instead of giving feedback, which can feel awkward for both you and those you’re leaving, respectfully offer suggestions on what might be improved—meetings, reports, events, sharing information, administrative functions, office practices—those matters that will help team members more effectively serve others after you leave.
- For yourself: Take inventory of how you’ve grown—new skills, lessons learned working with others, new relationships, and new grace—and bless those whom you will be leaving.
NACPA: What can Human Resource directors do to help build a stronger faith community in their diocesan offices—and how can Gospel values improve management effectiveness?
Tom: As HR directors, focus on the human side of our organizations:
- Lead with humility. Pay less attention to our own positions and titles and instead hold deeper regard for the needs and interests of those we serve
- Invite God into our leadership—pray seeking His guidance, trust Him, and thank Him, and openly model and share our faith, including our struggles.
- Focus on healing conflict and division and making peace.
In terms of improving management effectiveness, let Christ be the center of our leadership. As with Jesus’ disciples, who were called to follow him—then stumbled, doubted, disagreed, cowered, and misjudged—we must continue to respond daily to God’s call to servicing Him and others.
Above all, Love. If we really love our employees and the diocesan functions and parishes we support, we will set clear expectations, trust others with their gifts, and continuously encourage them. We must reveal God’s goodness in all our leadership.
NACPA: The title of your NACPA convocation presentation is intriguing: “Silence Is Not Always Golden: What Is Your Parish Staff Not Discussing?” What do you hope delegates will take away from your keynote?