Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Fundamental #2: Practice Human Connection
For the better part of two years, our Federation team has been making a deliberate effort to define what drives our work and how we do it. The four core values of Community, Inclusivity, Learning, and Integrity rose to the top. The next step was to identify a list of fundamentals: actionable, daily core behaviors that bring our core values to life and define our culture. Each week, we make a point to focus on practicing a different fundamental, and I kick off that effort by sharing my thoughts on each one at the beginning of each week. Here are my thoughts for our second week:
Fundamental #2: Practice Human Connection. Listen for, and pay attention to, the unique things that make people special. Use handwritten notes, personal cards, and timely encounters or phone calls to acknowledge them, and to show your appreciation for them.
At the launch of our Jewish Federation “Fundamentals” with David Friedman, about 10 days ago, I was impressed when staff members brought up learnings from their JNLI classes, from the Zingerman’s training and from other professional development experiences.
This fundamental—“Practice Human Connection”—echoes what many of us heard from Ron Wolfson when he spoke about his book, Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community.
Last year, I remember asking one of our volunteers, why he gave so much volunteer time while he is running a business and raising a family. Much of his reason is how the Federation staff and other volunteers make him feel. He loves the appreciation and warmth he feels from us so much that he gives time and talent that could have used to grow his business and increase his wealth!
I often wonder what our volunteers and supporters get in return for the valuable time and dollars that Federation volunteers give? All we can give is a warm, authentic relationship, appreciation, and connection to a bigger purpose. It’s a rare skill to be able to give volunteers these experiences. But it’s a skill common among our talented staff. And it’s much of the glue that makes the Federation successful.