It has been 90 days since my first day on the job, and I am looking forward to the new challenges this position brings. I still need to learn more about the diocese and each of its missions, parishes and schools.
Over the past three months, I have spent time meeting with as many people, organizations, services and missions as possible to learn the history of the diocese. I have noted where the diocese has been and where many of the departments and operations want to be in the future. I very much appreciate everyone’s time. The learning process continues.
The position of the Chief Operating Officer is a new direction for the diocese and one many dioceses across the country are moving towards. Over my 37 year career in business, I have had the opportunity to be responsible for many different types of businesses, including a few that needed to refocus on their core values or beliefs. This led to decisions to improve the company’s market position as well as its financial performance.
Being the COO for the diocese will be an experience different from my previous roles. My effectiveness in this new role will rely on my ability to move the organizations forward through conversation and encouragement. The leadership will require trust and transparency in order to build relationships that allow the diocese to begin to implement best practices and make the changes needed to build a strong organization. The success will be based on developing a team approach to completing the tasks required to improve our performance rather than relying on direct oversight and direction.
In my business career, I have learned trust is essential to success. It will take time for me to build this trust and it is a two-way street. My parents taught me that building trust is done through actions and meeting commitments, not through words. So the people of the diocese will become the judge of my performance.
As outlined in the Diocesan Pastoral Council pamphlet, “The role of the Chancery is to support the local parishes in carrying out their role within the local church.” That makes my job one of customer service, to assist you in your management of your parish, agency or department.
After 90 days of listening and asking questions, I found there are a number of areas to start to focus on:
1. Develop the Diocesan Finance Council into one with a more strategic business focus. The council needs to be broadened and expanded to become a key advisor on strategic and operational issues. The diocese has added one new committee, selected four new committee chairpersons and added seven new committee members.
2. Develop a focus on technology to improve our productivity and communications with the people who rely on the information for decision making. We need to all be on one system to improve accuracy and reduce expense. This would include all parishes being on QuickBooks general ledger system, having one chart of accounts, either ADP or Paycheck’s payroll system and having HR Works for benefits. This will also enable the parish financial councils to assist the pastor in examining the financial condition of the parish.
3. Evaluate the current investment policies and review each investment manager and ensure that all funds are being properly managed at the lowest possible cost to achieve the benchmark returns the market will provide.
4. Implement the 2010-2011 budgets and evaluate the investments being made to help review their impact. We need to measure the output of the activity not just the input that pays for the activity.
5. Change the focus of the Parish Service Department from one of internal audit, to a financial and business consulting role. Internal Audit will still be a necessary part of the team, but assisting the parishes in accounting and reporting will be just as important.
6. Implement a best practices policy and procedures manual. It must be user-friendly and reflect best practices. It should be a communication tool with which together we can move the organization forward and be as productive as possible.
The diocese faces a number of strategic issues but I believe it would be very pre-mature for me to discuss this after only 90 days on the job. The first step is to completely understand the issues and work with the appropriate organization to develop alternatives to solving these issues. This will be a focus of mine over the next 12 months.
I am very excited about my new role, knowing that it may take a couple of years to implement the changes that may be necessary. There will be very difficult decisions to make in implementing these changes, but change may be necessary to strengthen the diocese.
Step one and the most important part is developing trust, transparency and teamwork. It is necessary to understand the past in order to move forward into the future. For this to be successful it must be a two-way street. I hope you have seen in the first 90 days that I am taking the first steps.
The proof will be in the execution. Success will be in trust, transparency and teamwork.