December 15, 2014
by Jenny Watkins

High Altitude Employee Engagement: How Great Leaders Guide Teams to the Summit

by Kevin Sheridan, Best Selling Author of “Building a Magnetic Culture”

Employee EngagementAbout 18 years ago, I began an athletic journey called “The Seven Summits,” a quest to climb and summit the highest mountain on every continent. Early on in the ascent of my first, Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,740 feet), I realized the uncanny similarities between high altitude mountaineering and an organization’s or leader’s journey to reach the summit of Employee Engagement, which is typically defined as reaching Best-in-Class or Award-winning status (the top 10% of all employers).

One of the most striking similarities is in leadership qualities. Pick your expedition leader or manager carefully—it is the single most important factor in determining your success, either on the mountain or in the workplace.

Having a Plan

During my climbing expedition of Mt. Elbrus in Russia (18,510 feet), I had the honor of climbing with Mr. Vern Tejas, one of the most revered climbers and expedition leaders in the world. Vern mirrored what every great workplace manager does to achieve success; first and foremost, he had a plan of action. He insisted that we plan our climb and climb our plan. We were warned that deviating from our plan could be a recipe for trouble. In fact, the infamous “Into Thin Air” Mt. Everest disaster (29,028 feet) and the 2008 K-2 disaster (28,251 feet) both occurred because the leaders did not stick to the plan. Before both climbs, the climbers planned that if they were not at the summit by a certain time, they would turn the expedition around and head back down the mountain. Neither group stuck to their plan and many people perished.

Following a well thought out plan is just as important in the workplace. Management teams need to work together to decide on the direction they’re headed, and establish goals and timelines for doing so. All employees must be informed of the plans so they can work together and help the team reach its goals.

Having Your Back

As was customary on each of Vern’s expeditions, the night before we began climbing he hosted a pre-climb planning dinner, asking each team member to share: where they were from, where they had climbed, what their climbing aspirations were, what medications they were on (if any), and whether they had any concerns or fears. I cringed when I heard the last request since it would force me to admit to a group of complete strangers that I had acute acrophobia, or a fear of heights. Given that most of them were climbers and had no such fear, I suspected they would conclude that I was either completely psychotic or a masochist.

Vern knew it was difficult for me to openly admit this fear to the group. Later, he pulled me aside to speak with me privately. (Great leaders know when a conversation should be private or public.) He wanted to speak with me about a particularly challenging part of the expedition, and make sure I was prepared to conquer my (admittedly) pathological fear. Vern informed me of “The Autobahn,” a roughly half-mile stretch of sheer ice sloping at a sharp 45 degree angle for two miles down into the abyss. When I asked him why they called it The Autobahn, he was honest, telling me it was named after two German climbers who were the first to die on that section of the mountain; they were dead before their bodies stopped at the end of the two mile sheet of ice. As my heart began palpitating, Vern gave me reassurance, promising me that he’d be right next to me during this section of the climb, and also ensuring that I correctly hooked my jumar (safety clamp) into the fixed line. I knew Vern was an experienced leader, and his confidence in me made me more confident in myself. I felt at little more at ease knowing he would be there to help me.

True to his word, when we eventually traversed The Autobahn, Vern was right there beside me. He reminded me of his presence by simply placing his hand confidently on my left elbow. Physically, I could have made it through that part of the climb on my own, but mentally, I couldn’t have done it without a great leader giving me guidance and instilling confidence in me.

Great managers in the workplace give that same reassurance to their employees. People want to know their manager truly cares about them and “has their back.” When managers are traveling the same journey alongside employees, it also adds an important level of authenticity to reaching goals; everyone is in it together, and helping each other helps the whole team. This support gives employees the courage to push forward in uncertain times, and do their best work.

If you want to reach the summit of employee engagement, it’s simple: hire world-class leaders to guide your team up the mountain.

webinarJoin us as Terryberry hosts Kevin Sheridan for a free webcast on Bridging the Gap, Engaging Virtual Employees, January 28, 2015.  Click to Register.


Kevin Sheridan has spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant. He has helped some of the world’s largest corporations break down detrimental processes and rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors in the process. Kevin’s newest product, PEER®, is consistently recognized as a long overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement, and his most recent book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best-seller lists.


Web page:

Twitter: @ kevinsheridan12



December 10, 2014
by Jenny Watkins

Do Service Awards Still Matter?

Service Awards

I read an article the other day on service awards, and if I’m being honest, it kind of ticked me off.  The author starts out: “No worker has ever received an engraved plaque that read ‘Thanks for keeping your seat warm for 10 years.’  Yet that is the message employers send with awards for employees’ five, ten or 20-year anniversaries…”  I’ve read a few posts and articles now picking up on a similar theme– questioning the value of recognition for service milestones.

I’d like to offer a different opinion.  I myself have been in my current role for 9 years.  I’m coming up on a milestone 10 year anniversary next year.  (It’s February 7, if you’d like to send a greeting.)  I am invested in my role, and in the company to which I have decided to dedicate a good portion of my career. You bet – if  my company ignored my service anniversary it would have a damaging impact on my level of engagement.  Frankly, it would hurt my feelings.  I’ve given a significant amount of personal time and energy to my work because I care about leaving a lasting, positive contribution on the company I have chosen to serve and the team of which I am a part.

Being in the Employee Recognition business,  I’ve heard comments like, “we should recognize performance and reward outcomes.”  Yes, I agree with all that…in part.  But, in my mind, authentic recognition is more than ticking off a mark next to objectives.  I contend that if you want to engage your employees through recognition, you need to do more than recognize the performance.  Don’t forget to recognize the PERSON.

An employee’s service anniversary is an ideal time to highlight achievements and contributions over the past year, and over the course of an individual’s career.  If you’re not doing that as part of your service award presentation, it’s probably time to start.   At the same time, I’d like to offer the idea that a career is a relationship.  If my husband of 16 years had forgotten or ignored our anniversary last year, he might have found himself in the doghouse.  It’s not about gifts or flowers; but the gifts and flowers send a message: that I am important to him and that he is glad that we are connected.  My relationship with my coworkers is a different thing than my marriage for sure, but it’s still an important relationship to me.  And I still want to hear that message that I am valued and that my presence at work matters.

Ok, I get it. Businesses need to watch the bottom line, and maybe all this is too much mushy touchy feely stuff for some. So let’s look at bottom line numbers.  Replacing an employee who quits will cost anywhere from 20% for jobs earning less than $50K per year, to 213% for executive level positions.  In addition, fully 71% of the US labor force is on the job market.  If your business can move the needle on the cost of turnover by sending a message to your workforce that their service matters, isn’t that worth it?

Let’s also look at employee engagement data for a minute.  According to Gallup’s report, 13% of employees are highly engaged and 24% are actively disengaged, leaving 63% in the middle.  Let’s just say for argument’s sake that your highly engaged folks are getting the recognition that they need.  And your disengaged employees don’t deserve any recognition anyway.  That still leaves nearly two-thirds of the average organization’s employees who fall in the middle and are likely the backbone of the business.  Consider this: these 63% are probably the behind-the-scenes people who are doing a lot of the heavy lifting day-to-day to keep your business moving forward.  They are probably not getting showered with confetti and applause on a regular basis.  What might it mean to Terry, who’s been shipping your business’s packages to customers for five years; or  Morgan, who knows the ins-and-outs of your company’s billing processes, to hear on their service anniversary that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated?  What might it mean to Morgan and Terry’s peers — who maybe haven’t been at the company as long —  to see their friend and co-worker be recognized for their contributions.

I remember the first service award event I attended as an employee of Terryberry a few months after I was hired.  I received a welcome aboard award, which was cool. And I remember watching Mike Byam, the company’s Managing Partner, as he spoke about each person who was receiving an award.  From the factory floor to the executive offices, Mike knew all their names, their personal interests, their achievements, and how they impacted the company.  That year, one individual was retiring after over three decades with the company.  He teared up when former employees, current peers, and family members shared about how he and his work ethic had impacted them.  That event in 2005 communicated to me what Terryberry is about.  It helped me understand the mission, vision and values of the company of which I was now a part.  And it did so in a way that a handbook or onboarding document could never have done.   Nearly 10 years later, it still has an impact on me.

Plug that into your engagement metrics spreadsheet.

To circle back to the author’s comments I mentioned at the start, if your company has employees who are doing nothing more than “keeping the seat warm for 10 years,” then maybe you have bigger issues.  But if your company has employees who have dedicated a good part of their lives in service to your mission, then may I be so bold as to say, that’s worth a little recognition.

December 9, 2014
by Kelsey Rogers

Look No Further: Last Minute Gift Ideas for Managers

Be Merry! Unwrap Inspiring Gifts This Holiday Season


Yule be sure to please the professionals on your list this year with recognition gifts from Terryberry. These products make the perfect gifts for your entire management team, the Board of Directors, the President, a new manager, or anyone aspiring to lead a motivated group.

Show your team they’re valued with meaningful gifts and awards from Terryberry that recognize their efforts all year long.


WOWbookThe WOW! Workplace by Mike Byam

The ground-breaking “HOW TO” book for creating a WOW! Workplace




The Essential Spot Recognition Kit

Each Kit contains over 600 on-the-spot employee recognition opportunities

EssentialManager’s WOW! Essential Kit

Our most popular package – everything you need to motivate and recognize employees. Includes the WOW! Workplace book and an Essential Spot Recognition Kit.

Can’t Decide? Give one of each with the Manager’s WOW! Essential Kit or shop additional recognition products online.

We can work with your ideas and budget to help you create a customized employee recognition program that fits your needs. Contact us for a free consultation.

December 8, 2014
by Jenny Watkins

Easy All-in-One Kit for On-the-Spot Recognition

In this latest video from Terryberry, get an up-close look at what’s inside the Recognizeme Essential Performance Power Pack by Terryberry.  It’s an on-the-spot recognition kit with 600+ employee recognition opportunities inside…note cards, thank you notes, certificates, reward coupons, sticky pads and much more.  Learn more or order yours at

December 4, 2014
by Jenny Watkins

Six Tips for a Successful Peer Recognition Program Using Give a WOW

Studies show that positive workplace relationships with peers are a key predictor of employee engagement, and that recognition from colleagues is highly valued. As a result, more and more organizations are implementing formal peer-to-peer recognition programs.  If your company is one that is looking to start or expand a peer recognition program for 2015, these 6 tips will offer timely ideas.

peer recognition program

1.     What Contributions Are Important to Your Business? Effective recognition supports your mission, vision, and values. When you use the Give a WOW platform, the program is customized so that recognition is tied specifically to your organization’s corporate objectives.

2.     Be Inclusive. In an effective peer recognition program, any coworker can nominate a peer for going above and beyond. Give a WOW builds an inclusive recognition network within your business that creates powerful visibility for the attitudes, behaviors and contributions that make your business go.

3.     Make Recognition Visible. Highlighting the positive things that are going on in your organization is a powerful business tool for so many reasons. Keep recognition at the forefront of your workplace culture through offline and online communications.

4.     Reward Appropriately. Sometimes a simple thanks is all it takes to make someone’s day. And sometimes you need something more. Give a WOW’s integrated award mix is customized for your business needs. You’ll be equipped with appropriate gifts and awards to say thanks for contributions great and small.

5.     Make it Easy. Our motto is “simple is better.” With Give a WOW, giving recognition for great work is easy for everyone. When it comes to managing the program, Give a WOW is flexible to work with virtually any organization’s workflow needs. Often department managers review employee nominations within their teams. For top recognition awards, a recognition committee may select recipients. For some achievements, a threshold number of nominations automatically qualifies the recipient for special awards. Whatever your workflow needs, we have a WOW for that. And if you want some guidance in developing the process, we have a WOW for that too.

6.     Make it Fun. Giving and receiving recognition should be a positive experience for everyone involved. With Give a WOW, recognition is fun, interactive and authentic. What could be better than that?!