Why are some work partnerships exceptional while most are not? How can we establish and sustain an enhanced level of cohesion, connection, and collaboration in the most important work relationship, the one between a manager and team? What could remedy the high levels of isolation and anxiety so many feel at work these days?
Silver and Franz explore the concept of ‘meaningful partnership’ in the workplace. They present meaningful partnership as a mindset where both leaders and their teams are fully committed to ensuring the support and success of the other. Then, they describe a model called ERTAP, which stands for Empathy, Respect, Trust, Alignment, and Partnership, which is the foundation for meaningful partnership. Finally, they detail a practical yet transformative relationship-building process referred to as the Workplace Covenant. This enables leaders and teams to create mutual commitments with obligatory weight that help them to feel accountable for the success of the relationship and each other.
The book includes real client stories that illustrate the dimensions of partnership and the Workplace Covenant process. Silver and Franz also outline other work relationships that can benefit from meaningful partnership, pitfalls to avoid, relevant research, and insights derived from years of consulting experience.
This book is a must-read for leaders interested in a better working relationship with their team; for teams who have critical work partnerships with other teams; for individuals who work closely with other individuals and need an exceptional 1:1 partnership; and finally for third-party experts in HR or continuous improvement who are seeking a new powerful way to help clients feel supported and be more successful.
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?
CHAPTER 1: THE NEED FOR MEANINGFUL PARTNERSHIP
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
CHAPTER 2: WHAT IS A WORKPLACE COVENANT?
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
CHAPTER 3: A COVENANT STORY
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?
CHAPTER 4: WHAT IS ERTAP?
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?
CHAPTER 5: ANOTHER COVENANT STORY
Covenant Story #2: Mick - Breaking Cliques, Improving Trust and Alignment
The Initial Session
Reviews and Breakthroughs
Lessons Learned from Mick and his Staff
CHAPTER 6: HOW THE PROCESS WORKS
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
CHAPTER 7: SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE
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?
CHAPTER 8: COVENANTS IN TIMES OF CRISIS (AND DURING VIRTUAL WORK)
Covenant Story #3: Marie - ‘Keeping Together in Tough Times’
The Initial Session
Reviews and Breakthroughs
Lessons Learned from Marie and her Team
CHAPTER 9: OTHER APPLICATIONS FOR WORKPLACE COVENANTS
Typical Applications between a Manager and Team
Other Useful Applications
CHAPTER 10: WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Problems and Predicaments at the Beginning
Problems and Predicaments Later On
CHAPTER 11: WHEREVER YOU ARE, HOW DO YOU START?
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
CHAPTER 12: A LAST COVENANT STORY
Benefits of The Workplace Covenant?
Covenant Story #4: Julie – From Hurt to Healing
Lessons Learned from Julie and her Team
CHAPTER 13: FINAL THOUGHTS
Back to the Big Picture – Why Partnership Matters
APPENDIX I: SLIDES TO RUN A WORKPLACE COVENANT SESSION
APPENDIX II: MEASURING ERTAP
Measuring ERTAP: Brief Best Practices
Seth R. Silver, Ed.D., Organizational Consultant
Dr. Silver is the principal of Silver Consulting, Inc., an independent consulting practice, where he has worked with over 200 client organizations in health care, higher education, high tech, government, business services, manufacturing and non-profit. His consulting focuses on two key areas: developing and improving leadership; and creating high engagement, high performance workplaces. He provides such services as executive coaching, leadership training, team development, conflict resolution, building effective workplace partnerships, strategic planning, and organizational/team diagnosis.
Dr. Silver has developed a unique business process called the Workplace Covenant, which helps parties in any organization to exchange and agree upon reciprocal obligations and expectations so as to ensure trust, feedback and alignment in their relationship. He has recently co-authored a book, entitled Meaningful Partnership at Work: How The Workplace Covenant Ensures Mutual Accountability and Success Between Leaders and Teams, to bring the concept to a wider audience.
From 2000 to 2014, Dr. Silver was a part-time Assistant Professor and taught Masters level students in Human Resource Development, teaching first at St. John Fisher College, and then at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Dr. Silver holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto, a Masters degree from Cornell University, and a Doctorate (Ed.D.) from The George Washington University. He has served on the Board of Directors for several non-profit organizations in the Rochester area, and is a citizen of both the US and Canada.
Timothy M. Franz, Ph.D., Professor, Consultant and Author
Tim Franz is an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist at St. John Fisher College. He is a Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Psychology and past graduate Program Director of the graduate Human Resource Development program. He works as an organizational consultant through his consulting organization, Franz Consulting and GLI.
Prior to his work as a professor, Dr. Franz worked full time as a human resources consultant. He earned his Ph.D. in Social/Organizational Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, his M.A. from the University of Buffalo, and his B.A. from SUNY Oneonta.
His areas of expertise include applied research in organizations, individual and team decision making, improving team performance, improving team leadership, and using teams to drive organizational change. Many of his ideas about improving teams are published in his four books, titled Meaningful Partnership at Work: How The Workplace Covenant Ensures Mutual Accountability and Success between Leaders and Teams (August, 2021), Making Team Projects Work: A Resource for High School and College Educators, Making Team Projects Work: A Resource for High School and College Students (September, 2021) and Group Dynamics and Team Interventions: Understanding and Improving Team Performance (2nd edition in 2022). More information about his work can be found at TeamBuildingProcess.com.
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