Meaningful Partnership at Work : How The Workplace Covenant Ensures Mutual Accountability and Success between Leaders and Teams book cover
1st Edition

Meaningful Partnership at Work
How The Workplace Covenant Ensures Mutual Accountability and Success between Leaders and Teams

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after August 27, 2021
ISBN 9781032020112
August 27, 2021 Forthcoming by Productivity Press
216 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book explores how to foster and improve partnership in the workplace with a focus on leaders and their teams. The ingredients of these successful partnerships are contained in the model -- ERTAP (Empathy, Respect, Trust, Alignment and Partnership). It describes in detail a relationship-building process, The Workplace Covenant, how it creates ERTAP and partnership, and provides true stories to illustrate key benefits. In short, the book is one part conceptual and three parts practical/how-to so that readers can improve their own workplace partnerships or help others to do so. Research shows that the quality of our professional relationships is important. It is not only important to work satisfaction and many measures of performance, but also to life satisfaction. Unfortunately, the research shows that many employees are dissatisfied with the relationships they have their immediate supervisor. As it turns out, many leaders are also dissatisfied with the relationships they have with the members of their team. It’s a two-way street of frustration. To reduce the frustration and create a great workplace, keep great staff, and achieve great results, the foundational relationship between a leader and team needs to be a meaningful partnership. The authors use the term ‘meaningful partnership’ because the relationship is substantial and rewarding to both sides. It represents an elevated level of cohesion, connection and collaboration. They describe how both the leader and the team must be interdependent and mutually accountable to ensure the other feels fully supported and can be successful in the work they do together. The book focuses on creating meaningful partnership through an easy-to-use process called The Workplace Covenant -- a practical relationship building process that equips any two parties who have an important work relationship to establish and continuously improve their connection and collaboration. By exchanging obligations and expectations, refining these into respective covenants, and using these covenants in various structured ways to provide routine praise and feedback, both parties periodically adjust to help the other feel fully supported and be successful. Hence, The Workplace Covenant helps to create meaningful partnership. The term “covenant’ does not imply any religious connotation. Instead, it means an honor-bound commitment based on personal and professional integrity. It refers to commitments that have obligatory weight. The authors describe the benefits of meaningful partnership and using covenants -- they help organizations have a more positive work culture, higher employee engagement, better leadership in general, more cohesive teams, and better work results. Essentially, the book presents The Workplace Covenant as a practical process between leaders and their teams that creates ERTAP. ERTAP leads to meaningful partnership. Meaningful partnership transforms the leader and team relationship so that both sides feel valued, supported, engaged, and able to achieve. The book gives the reader all of the background, concepts, tips, lessons learned, illustrative case stories, and useful "silver bullet" principles they will need to effectively establish and continuously improve meaningful partnership at work.

Table of Contents


Two in a Canoe – A Metaphor of Partnership

Big Picture – Why Meaningful Partnership Matters

What this Book is About

What It is Not About

Brief Overview of the Book

Goals of this Book

Finally, Who Should Read This?

Why Conduct The Workplace Covenant?


The Basic Problem in Our Workplace

The Manager-Team Relationship is Crucial

Customer Relationships Matter, But Manager-Team Relationships Mostly Ignored

The Need for Partnership


The Origin Story:

Unstated and Therefore Unmet Expectations

The Problem and the Solution

This Goes Deeper Than We Thought

Improving the Process – A Few Important Lessons Learned

What is a Workplace Covenant?

The Process in a Nutshell

Why is it Called a Workplace Covenant?

Will Teams and Managers Adhere to What They Sign?

What Do Real Workplace Covenants Look Like?

Sample Workplace Covenants


Covenant Story #1: Roy - ‘From Great to Superb’

The Initial Session

Reviews and Breakthroughs

Lessons Learned from Roy and his Staff

How Did The Workplace Covenant Session Go?


Describe Your Best Team Ever

What Do We Mean by ERTAP?

How Does ERTAP Develop from Creating and Using a Workplace Covenant?

What Happens Over Time Given Workplace Covenants and ERTAP?


Covenant Story #2: Mick - Breaking Cliques, Improving Trust and Alignment

The Initial Session

Reviews and Breakthroughs

Lessons Learned from Mick and his Staff


What are the Main Process Steps to Develop and Use a Workplace Covenant?

Step 1: Initiate & Create

Step 2: Compare & Contrast

Step 3: Combine & Refine

Team Steps 2 & 3: Compare & Contrast, Combine & Refine

Step 4: Confirm & Sign

Check/Adjust: Embrace & Integrate, Review & Calibrate, Evaluate & Validate

Step 5: Embrace & Integrate

Step 6: Review & Calibrate

Step 7: Evaluate & Validate


Research that Supports Practice

Research, ERTAP, and the Workplace Covenant

A Summary of the Social Science Literature on ERTAP

Empathy & Teamwork - The Research in Brief

Respect & Teamwork – The Research in Brief

Trust & Teamwork – The Research in Brief

Alignment & Teamwork – The Research in Brief

Meaningful Partnership & Teamwork – The Research in Brief

Our Pilot Study

Our Longitudinal Study


How Did The Workplace Covenant Enhance Meaningful Partnership?


Covenant Story #3: Marie - ‘Keeping Together in Tough Times’

The Initial Session

Reviews and Breakthroughs

Working Virtually

Lessons Learned from Marie and her Team


Typical Applications between a Manager and Team

Other Useful Applications


Problems and Predicaments at the Beginning

Problems and Predicaments Later On


Managers and Teams: Getting Started

Plan for the Session

Do: Conduct the Initial Workplace Covenant Session

Check/Adjust: Post-Session Follow-Up with Covenants

HR and Third-Party Experts: Quick Suggestions


Benefits of The Workplace Covenant?

Describing Elephants

Covenant Story #4: Julie – From Hurt to Healing

Lessons Learned from Julie and her Team


Back to the Big Picture – Why Partnership Matters

Closing Arguments



Measuring ERTAP: Brief Best Practices



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Seth R. Silver, Ed.D., Organizational Consultant Since 1998, Dr. Silver has been the principal of Silver Consulting, Inc., an independent consulting practice, where he has worked with such diverse clients as: ABVI-Goodwill, Alcoa, Alfred State College, Alstom Transport, American Red Cross, Bausch & Lomb, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Borg Warner, Bosch Security Systems, Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU), Canterbury Woods Senior Living, Cape Cod Healthcare, Durham Region Government, Government of Jamaica, L3Harris, Klein Steel, LeChase Construction, Ontario County Government, Ontario Tech University, Optimax, Pactiv Manufacturing, SUNY Geneseo, Toshiba Business Solutions, University of Rochester Medical Center, and Xerox Corporation, to name a few. His work has included consulting to senior management on such topics as leadership, cultural change, employee engagement, and customer loyalty; working with teams at all levels to increase effectiveness and performance; providing clients such services as executive coaching, strategic planning, and organizational diagnosis; and teaching employees professional skills and strategies for workplace success. Dr. Silver has developed and trade-marked a unique business process called The Workplace Covenant, which helps parties in any organization to exchange and agree upon reciprocal obligations and expectations so they can ensure trust, feedback and alignment in their relationship. He has recently co-authored a book on The Workplace Covenant to bring the concept to a wider audience. From 2000 to 2013, Dr. Silver was an Assistant Professor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., where he taught Masters level students in the Organizational Learning and Human Resource Development (OL/HRD) program. From 2013 to 2014, Dr. Silver was on faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), in the College of Applied Science and Technology, as a Lecturer (non-tenure track professor position) in their HRD Masters program, teaching international graduate students from over 20 countries. Prior to his consulting practice and college teaching, Dr. Silver served as an Internal Consultant and Manager of Organization Development for the largest engineering division of the Xerox Corporation, in Rochester, NY. He was co-responsible for the development of leadership and learning strategies for 500 managers across the country. His responsibilities included the design and delivery of empowerment and team effectiveness training, individual coaching and counseling for managers, and conducting staff development workshops. He also co-developed the company’s Technical Development Advisory (Mentoring) Program. Dr. Silver holds a Bachelors degree in Social Psychology from the University of Toronto; a Masters in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University; and a Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Human Resource Development from The George Washington University. His doctoral research examined the relationship between leadership behaviors, engineers’ perceptions of empowerment, and team and individual performance. Dr. Silver has published in Training Magazine, the Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of Management Inquiry, Training and Development (T&D) Magazine, and the Rochester Business Journal. He has also served on the Board of Directors for several non-profit organizations in the Rochester area. Timothy M. Franz, Ph.D. Dr. Franz is an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist at St. John Fisher College. He is a Professor of Psychology as well as past Chair of the Psychology Department and past Program Director and Chair of the Organizational Learning and Human Resource Development Department. In addition to his academic work, he also works as an organizational consultant through his independent consulting organization, Franz Consulting. His topical areas of expertise include team leadership, individual and team decision making, improving team performance, and using teams to drive organizational change. Many of his ideas about improving teams are published in his books, titled Making Team Projects Work: A Resource for High School and College Educators and Group Dynamics and Team Interventions: Understanding and Improving Team Performance. He is also an experienced applied researcher, specializing in conducting focus groups and interviews, designing custom surveys, analyzing data, and evaluating the effectiveness of training programs. Prior to his work as a college professor, Dr. Franz was a Survey Consultant for the Wyatt Company (now Towers-Watson). He also worked as a consultant for Buck Consultants. In these roles, he designed and conducted custom compensation surveys and salary administration projects for clients in the Northeast and Midwest. In addition, he designed selection tests, employee development instruments, and custom organizational surveys as a contract consultant for Custom Solutions, A London House Consulting Group. Dr. Franz is a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Association for Psychological Science, the Eastern Psychological Association, and the Erie Canal Applied Psychology Network. His scientific research has been published in premier journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Applied Psychology, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He received his Ph.D. in Social/Organizational Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his M.A. in Psychology from the University at Buffalo.


When teams work remotely, managers often ask, "How can I manage them if I can’t see them?" Whether virtual or co-located, however, Meaningful Partnership at Work offers an eminently workable, practical approach that managers and team members will find indispensable to the performance management process.

-- Wayne F. Cascio, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado and former President of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology


Meaningful Partnership at Work by Silver and Franz represents the next step beyond traditional thinking about employee engagement. While many treatments of engagement focus on how to build passion and commitment among individual workers, The Workplace Covenant focuses on how to build a corporate culture where the promise of engagement matches the corporate culture. Are you a manager or HR person looking for a way to take your organization to higher levels of productivity? If so, you really must look at this book…

-- William J. Rothwell, Professor of Workforce Education, The Pennsylvania State University and President, Rothwell & Associates, Inc. 

This work does not fall under the category of "must read" but instead "must do!" Meaningful Partnership at Work is very timely and much needed by all organizations regardless of size or scope especially during times of upheaval and uncertainty.

-- Fernán R. Cepero, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, YMCA of Greater Rochester, Association Office


Meaningful Partnership at Work is the essence of employee engagement at the highest level, a true partnership between employees and leaders to transform the working relationship at all levels. A must read for HR leaders and more importantly for line leaders in their quest for true employee input, exchange and engagement.

-- Augustin Melendez, Chief HROD / DEI Officer, Hillside


These unprecedented times demonstrate how an organization’s culture must be grounded in having shared purpose and respect for human dignity. Silver and Franz provide all the details necessary to create a powerful team intervention that affects these exact elements. 

-- Paul M. Mastrangelo, Principal Strategist, CultureIQ


Meaningful Partnership at Work by Silver and Franz tackles a too often overlooked process for improving team effectiveness. This book provides a sound, step-by-step methodology for implementing covenants within your workplace. Backed-up by excellent examples along with compelling research, these pages are your roadmap for building strong, committed relationships as a means to improving team performance. 

-- Thomas A. Kayser, author of Mining Group Gold and Building Team Power


Meaningful Partnership at Work is both meaningful and practical. The ERTAP model--empathy, respect, trust, alignment, and partnership--is something many of us espouse without having named it. We might go as far as empathy, respect, and trust, but without the steps of aligning expectations and developing partnerships, these are only sentiments or attitudes, at best, not actions. As leaders and managers, we talk a great deal about building culture, but rarely take concrete, measurable steps in that direction. Silver and Franz give us specific steps to actually achieve this stated goal of creating a culture with leaders and followers full and conscious participants.

-- Babak Elahi, Head of Liberal Studies, Kettering University


Relationships matter. Meaningful Partnership at Work provides a concise, practical, low-maintenance method to explore and unleash the power of teams in your organization. 

-- Britt Lui, Vice President, People & Development, Dixon Schwabl


Silver and Franz powerfully demonstrate the primacy of team dynamics in organizational achievement - and then laser in on the pragmatics of establishing and sustaining the mutual obligations among team members that improve and accelerate outcomes.  Both new and experienced managers can benefit from the processes detailed in this book

-- Matthew Cicchinelli, President, PAR Government


The Workplace Covenant process is one of the most effective ways to develop a genuine, intentional and productive relationship between a team and a leader.  Even for established and respected leaders, the process that Silver and Franz outline is a powerful learning experience that results in true team unity and alignment.  This book presents an opportunity for leaders (new and experienced) to move themselves, their teams and potentially their entire organization to the next level.

-- James VonBramer, SHRM-CP, PHR, Vice President, HR Works, Inc.


Practical, insightful step-by-step roadmap for building and strengthening team/manager trust filled with wisdom and lessons learned from two pros with the rare combination of years of academic knowledge coupled with practical industry experience and know-how.  From an internal HR business partner perspective, this is a 'must read' for any novice or expert level HR professional. 

-- Jean Rollins, HR Business Partner, University of Rochester Medical Center


As part of a People Team, we spend an awful lot of time discussing engagement, surveying employees, analyzing net promoter score trends, etc. as a means to figure out the way to maximize performance through engagement. The best part of the book was its simplicity and applicability. It is clearly explained, justified, presented with examples, and packaged for use. You gave people professionals a step-by-step approach to improving relationships between managers and teams! Understanding what is important to our team members is a simple and basic step we often overlook.

-- Laura Begg, ICF ACC, Senior Director, Talent Management, Sapphire Digital


Meaningful Partnership at Work by Silver and Franz shows us how employee engagement and alignment can take place through all levels of the organization - one team at a time. This focused book offers a straightforward guide for building effective and meaningful team partnerships. More than a one-shot intervention, the guided process described here helps assure follow-up and continuous improvement while brief case studies help the manager apply The Workplace Covenant concept to their particular situation. As an academic currently in a team leadership position myself, I particularly value The Workplace Covenant framework because it integrates years of practical organizational development experience with a sound theoretical model. This helps managers understand exactly what they are trying to accomplish with their teams and why it works at a deeper level. Written in a lively and accessible manner, this book will inspire confidence in the first-time manager and prompt the experienced executive to settle for nothing less than the full potential of their team.

-- Scott Seibert, Professor and Chair, Human Resource Management, School of Management & Labor Relations, Rutgers University


The Workplace Covenant is a proven powerful process that truly allows any organization to build and expand upon the vital team leader and team member partnerships necessary for the creation of more highly engaged and aligned cultures that impact lives, businesses, and bottom lines. It’s a win-win for all parties.

-- Silvio Proaño, former human resources executive at C.R. Bard, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol Myers Squibb


Whenever I facilitate the course: "Leadership, Negotiation, and Teamwork," I impress upon the students that leadership is about relationship, negotiation is about relationship, and teamwork is about relationship. This is a profoundly simple yet complex construct. How do we initiate, define, maintain, and sometimes repair team relationships? We need a Mindset, a Model, and a Medium. This excellent book equips both the team leadership and the team members with the Mindset, Model, and Medium. This toolkit enables teams to succeed and thereby improve the organization’s bottom line through higher performance, higher engagement, and lower attrition rates. If teams are the "Corvettes" of organizations, and they are, and if teams need careful design and care, and they do, then this book is essential for every organization that hopes to leverage the full and impressive impact of teams!

-- Rob Elkington, Professor, Ontario Tech University; CEO/President, Global Leadership Initiatives; Faculty, Trent Master of Management Program; Senior Lecturer Stellenbosch School of Public Leadership.


Teams are essential to the success of any organization, and yet, unfortunately, most teams are dysfunctional and ineffective. This book provides a powerful model, insightful strategies, and marvelous examples of how great teams can be created and sustained. Anyone who is a team leader or team member should buy this book!

-- Michael Marquardt, Professor of Human Resource Development and International Affairs, George Washington University and Co-Founder, World Institute for Action Learning


At Goldman Sachs, we stress teamwork in everything we do. Meaningful Partnership at Work by Silver and Franz, spells out a simple yet practical framework of continuous reflection, active engagement and constant improvement of the essential manager-team partnership. A truly worthwhile and transformational read to excel in these unprecedented times.

-- Lyle Schwartz, Managing Director, Investment Banking Division, Goldman Sachs