The Most Common Employee Appreciation Mistake

The Most Common Employee Appreciation Mistake

Understanding our differences is a key step to see and take into consideration other individuals’ life history and experience as we work together. If you feel this is an area in which you need to (or want to) grow, there are some practical steps you can take. First, remember the saying, attributed to Native Americans, “To understand a man, you must walk a mile in his moccasins.” While most of us can intellectually try to think what a situation is like from another person’s perspective, actually experiencing what they experience on a day-to-day basis is when we really learn the lesson. This is actually the wisdom behind the popular television series Undercover Boss, where the president or CEO of a company goes and works in a front-line employee position for a week. Time and time again, you see the lights come on in the leader’s eyes—gaining a true understanding of the challenges experienced by his or her employees.

Living a Covenant

Last week, a member of our Eastern Wisconsin Convene Team initiated a group e-mail that grew into a string of blessings upon one another in business, family and service. What started as an encouraging word of appreciation became an abundant offering of prayers, requests for prayer, expressions of thanksgiving, and further demonstration of the significant service in which our Team members engage. It was one more piece of evidence of the leadership community fabric forming while we work to develop ourselves and our businesses Underneath this leadership fabric is a Team Covenant.*  It goes like this:

We are a team. As a team, we define our culture. Condemnation is checked at the door and disagreement is welcome in the room. We recognize that fully present participation is our highest contribution to our teammates. Because we are teammates, we commit to give abundantly, to receive in similar measure, and to keep confidentiality We choose accountability to follow through on what we say personally and in business, mutual assistance, and open communication.

The increasing length of each sentence is intended., and each sentence cascades into the next. Here is a little more definition:

We are a team. We need to be committed to and contribute to each other as we grow ourselves and our businesses.

As a team, we define our culture. Even if another entity were to dictate the values by which we should operate, in the end we take responsibility for creating the environment by which we grow ourselves and our businesses.

Condemnation is checked at the door and disagreement is welcome in the room. We recognize that we do significant discernment work when we gather. When we collectively care about the result, differing values, sometimes even competing values, come into play. We are not going to hold back our judgment about a matter. Neither are we going to make definitive, unthinking, or insensitive pronouncements.

We recognize that fully present participation is our highest contribution to our teammates. This part is especially hard because so many matters compete for attention before, during and in the moments after one of our Forum Days ends. And yet, our ability to be fully present and undistracted with our Convene Team, means we grow in our ability to be fully present with our employees, our families and our friends. When we are fully present in these key relationships, we make it possible for them to flourish. When we are mentally and emotionally elsewhere, we become a significant contributor to their floundering.

Because we are teammates, we commit to give abundantly, to receive in similar measure, and to keep confidentiality. Being present means we concentrate and think with our teammates, and we leave our conversations in the room. This makes it possible for us to learn, as well as contribute our learnings, in safety. So, we must hold an open posture as we give and receive. If we do not remind ourselves to keep this discipline, we will only tell and sell rather than listen and learn. Our commitment to learning means we ask questions for the purposes of further discovery before we start dealing out what we already know. Learning fosters our needed and continuing growth.

We choose accountability to follow through on what we say personally and in business, mutual assistance, and open communication. We declare what we will work on, report on the effort, admit our mistakes, make our corrections, and celebrate the hurdles we cross. We keep committing ourselves to listen to how we are perceived, and develop our capacities even as we live well within themm so that margin and life balance can be honored. We keep making ourselves open to the counsel of peers.


The women and men in our team keep telling me they are better leaders and better people because of their involvement, especially because of the care they receive and can offer, alongside the insights they gain. We don’t do it perfectly. Far from it. But we earnestly pursue it. Does participation in such a peer-based advising team hold interest for you as a company owner or CEO, wherever you might live?

Would you like to contact one of the Convene Chairs along the western shore of Lake Michigan?

Chicago - John Wright Southeast Wisconsin - Joel Borgardt Eastern Wisconsin - Mark L. Vincent

*Convene asks all participants in all teams to sign a covenant that covers all members in all teams.  Many individual teams develop supplemental covenants, specific to the fabric of their teams, such as this one.


If you enjoyed this article about living in covenant from Mark L. Vincent, you’ll enjoy our live learning venue even more! Join hundreds of leaders learning together how to operate their company well, all on a biblical platform at the Leadership Summit 2017 in Hilton Head, SC on May 3-5, 2017. Find out more here.

Can’t make the Summit but crave more learning? Tune in to our Convene online leadership learning portal!

Team Success

My former mentor and boss Zig Ziglar taught me to keep it simple. So when I am asked by my clients how to make their team work I answer with a simple acronym T.E.A.M.

T is for Trust.

The biggest factor in building a strong team is trust. Trust is defined as firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. So that’s simple right? Well not exactly. Trust starts with the leader! Your leadership must be a model of reliability & truth. If your team trusts you and knows you stand by your actions, it empowers them to act in the same manner. Your team must also feel that everyone in the organization can be trusted to do what’s right.

E is for Engagement

If your team has mutual trust they will naturally be engaged, especially if they have a clear sense of your company’s purpose and vision. Establish your vision. Make sure your team understands their role and how it impacts your organization’s purpose, which will encourage engagement. Keep in mind that only about 30% of any organizations people are truly engaged.

A is for Alignment

Alignment comes through a singleness of purpose around your company’s vision. Alignment in critical to get everyone pulling in the same direction. Are your goals clearly stated so that everyone can work together for the common good? Look for areas where unity is not taking place and the folks back in alignment.

M is for Measured

For a team to function you must have a clear way to measure performance and keep all concerned accountable. A major failure in many organizations is the failure to hold everyone accountable. Put into place clear benchmarks to keep progress moving forward toward your team goals. Hold regular meeting to measure accomplishment and make course correction where necessary. All in all, if you keep Trust, Engagement, Alignment and Measurement at the forefront your team will move forward and enjoy great success!

3 Steps to Harness Your Teams Strengths

It's time to ask yourself: How will I harness my teams strengths each and every day to help us reach our desired destination? In my work as a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, I lead my clients through three steps of harnessing their strengths, which make up the basis of my Strengths Coaching System:

Step #1 - Maximize Your Strengths

Measuring your team’s top five strengths with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you have discovered your signature strengths, you can dig even deeper by exploring the wide array of supplementary strengths based assessments available to help you diversify and define the language you use for your strengths, while also expanding the number of practical techniques you can use to put your talents into practice. The VIA Survey, for example, measures character strengths, broadening the context in which you see and use your signature strengths. Realize 2 and StandOut will also deepen your vocabulary of your strengths.

Strengthening your mindset is all about overcoming the fears and limiting beliefs associated with harnessing your strengths as you mentally prepare yourself for your Iditarod.

My wife and I were certainly anxious before taking our first sled ride. We worried about getting hurt, losing control of the sled, careening into the snowy wilderness. And, while some of those fears were well founded, they had a lot in common with the deficiency or weakness based mindset most of us have developed about ourselves.

So often, when facing a new opportunity or challenge, we prepare for the worst. On the precipice of closing a sales deal, planning a career move, or angling for that next big promotion, we assume we're going to fly off the sled and land in the snow. And this I can't, weakness based mindset predicts our fate. We lose control of the sled because we're so focused on what we can't do, instead of tapping into what we can do and finding others to help us fill in the gaps.

A strengths based mindset, on the other hand, prepares and focuses on what you do best. Remember—a successful sled is led by a team of dogs with different talents. Each individual dog plays a valuable, yet distinct role in every trip. Were the driver to focus on what each dog can't do or doesn't do well, he or she would have trouble unifying the team and staying on the trail. To successfully achieve your goals, you must mount your own sled with confidence, knowing which strengths will help you round the next bend, leaving your cant’s and don'ts at the lodge. Maximizing your strengths starts by becoming an expert on your personal top five strengths while seeking guidance from those who share your talents and partnerships with people who you feel can help you better utilize them. Make a list of resources—books, tools, colleagues—that will deepen your understanding of your signature strengths. Consider joining others in a strengths mastermind group. Commit to an attitude of lifetime learning, whether it is through self-study, coaching and workshops. (I recommend a combination of all three.)

Step #2 - Mobilize Your Strengths

One of my coaching clients uses the phrase “What strengths am I going to use today?” taped above her desk? The pinnacle of the strengths coaching system is mobilizing your strengths to work, to well-being, to marriage, to parenting, to faith, and eventually the world.

Harnessing your strengths is a lifestyle, a string of flags on a map, not a single destination. With each trip—each goal—we refine our strengths style, developing leaders who will one day pass the torch, modeling his strengths for a new generation. In my own life, my strengths are always taking me higher and helping me trek further into the future, making me a better Christian, coach, mentor and model both for my coaching clients as well as those I love.

Now that you are maximizing your unique set of talents, you can take the reins and start to steer your life, team, and business in the direction of your dreams. So, what are you waiting for?

Step #3 - Monetize Your Strengths The third step of harnessing your strengths is often one of the most exciting, especially for entrepreneurs, business owners, and executive teams looking to use their strengths in the workplace. Monetizing your strengths answers the question: How can I hone my marketing message, get more leads, and grow my client base so we can make more money?

A strengths based marketing and sales approach can transform a business—I've seen it happen. I can't count the number of phone calls and emails I've received from clients celebrating a major sale, new position/promotion, or small business success after tailoring their marketing strategies and sales techniques to their top five strengths. In my book, Selling Strengths, I take you step by- step through the process of making over your marketing strategy so you and the unique benefits you offer can really sparkle, allowing you to reach more potential customers and close more sales. Here's your head start. Ask yourself: What is keeping my ideal client up at 3 AM?

Think about how your unique combination of strengths can help your ideal client sleep better at night. Whatever the answer, you want your marketing to clearly communicate how you and your services can solve your customer's problems and add value to their life and business. A strengths based marketing approach gives you a language to communicate why your special blend of strengths makes you the best person for the job.

Strengths based leaders know how to maximize their own strengths as well as the strengths of all the members of their team so that each individual experiences more confidence and personal engagement on the job and the group as a whole enjoys more overall productivity and profitability (and fewer office wars). By valuing and balancing the unique contributions of each member of their organization, strengths based leaders create interdependent teams with trust, compassion, stability, and hope.

A strong business is also based on strong emotional loyal customer relationships. They increase referrals and add value to your services with positive word-of-mouth advertising and glowing testimonials. Securing customers for keeps depends on making authentic, natural connections with your signature strengths. The research reveals that emotionally engaged customers pay 67% more a year for the service they purchase from you because they feel confidence, integrity, pride, and passion. 

Bring GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach and Convene Resource Specialist, Brent O’Bannon to your Forum Day or organization. Learn more at