Honoring worth, value of employees gets results

| August 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
Tim Rethlake

Leading With Faith winner Tim Rethlake. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit.

Tim Rethlake

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

There was a lot of buzz several years ago about the term “servant leadership.” There are many views of what this means, but I’ve found that the Catholic values regarding the dignity of the individual have application on a daily basis.

The language you use around this is important. I have several [employees who are] direct reports, but I try never to say it’s “my team,” but instead always refer to “our team.”

The reality is HHT is a large organization and we need a formal organizational chart and accountability for results, but I find that by making sure everyone on our Learning and Development team believes they have the same worth and value as me or anyone else on the team, the results seem to come faster and easier. Transparency in your communication and your decision-making process are both critically important to maintaining a team of equals.

Please tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference.

Hearth & Home Technologies was negatively impacted by the prolonged downturn in the housing industry. To survive, we were forced to lay off a good number of our employees. While this was obviously traumatic for those who lost their jobs, it was also stressful on those who remained. They had survivor’s syndrome, with sadness for their friends who were laid off and fear that their job might be next.

During this time, I noticed that people had a need to talk about deeper topics than just the work at hand. They began asking all the “meaning-of-life” type questions. My Catholic faith and my personal relationship with Christ were instrumental in guiding my words during these important conversations. People would circle back a few days later and say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said and it has helped.” My response was, “I was just the messenger; you can always have the conversation directly with Him.”

Who or what has been most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

I attend a monthly breakfast for a group called Men On A Mission, which is an offshoot of St. Paul’s Outreach. MOAM is a forum for Catholic men to hear speakers talk about the challenges and opportunities in letting the teachings of the Church lead your daily life choices.

Two men in particular have spoken at MOAM who have influenced me. The first is Michael Naughton of the University of St. Thomas. I highly recommend his books or online lectures to anyone who is trying to achieve more congruity between their work and faith worlds.

The second is Deacon Thom Winninger. He is an incredibly gifted speaker, but even more beneficial to me has been his daily “Jesus Speaking” email. Deacon Thom comments on the Scripture readings of the day, and it’s uncanny how often something I read that morning will have application throughout my workday.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

When I first joined HHT 16 years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to become a facilitator of Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” There are many parallels between the principles in “Seven Habits” and Catholic teachings. I have been able to weave some of Covey’s key principles along with basic Christian values into our sales training curriculum.

I believe our sales teams are the “evangelists” of our company to the marketplace, so it’s important we ground them with a foundation of balance, fairness and respect for our customers and for each other. Providing sales training that develops the “whole person” is consistent with both our company’s culture and with my personal Catholic beliefs.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

There is a quote from Gandhi which I’ve always loved. He said, “If I do not see God in the face of the next person I meet, I need look no further.”

His meaning is clear: It’s on me to look for God’s gifts in others, whether they’re showing it at the moment or not. There are plenty of times in a day when others’ actions may make me feel justified in reacting in a non-Christian manner. Remembering that God is present in each person helps me to respond proactively instead. We tend to find what we seek, so look for the good instead of the bad and you’ll see it.


Age: 59

Company: Hearth & Home Technologies

Title: Director, sales training

Parish: All Saints, Lakeville

Spouse: Justine

Children: Elyse, Merritt, Natalie

Activities: Eucharistic minister, perpetual adoration ministry and GameChangers coordinator at All Saints; accountability partner and boot camp facilitator at The Laboure Society

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Category: Leading With Faith