TAG Consulting

What Is The Red Zone?

October 29, 2015

Just this past week, we were asked by a nationally-known business writer “What’s the difference between the Red Zone and the Blue Zone?” We’re often asked that question as well as this one: “What do the Red and Blue Zones have to do with conflict resolution?”

The best way to answer these questions is by defining the Zones. First, the Red Zone…

The Red Zone is where the atmosphere is characterized by  a lack of professionalism and an overabundance of emotional heat.  As for conflict, in the Red Zone conflict revolves around me, my personal story, my neediness, my ambitions, my personal issues.

As I sink into the Red Zone my personal story begins to emerge. That story has a theme or premise that is central to the story:
-Will I survive?
-Am I acceptable?
-Am I competent?
-Am I in control?

Most of us have one (sometimes more than one!) of these themes that are dominant in us when we go Red Zone.

Don’t feel badly about that – self-knowledge is the key! If I can discern which of my themes is dominant (Survival, Acceptance, Competence, or Control) I have the first  tool for living in the much-better Blue Zone.

One key for knowing if I am in the Red Zone is whether or not I am exhibiting these behaviors:
-I disengage
-I am distracted
-I am easily annoyed
-I procrastinate
-I self-medicate with alcohol, food, sex, shopping, etc.
-I attack someone personally
-I avoid people and situations
-I harbor resentment

It’s a tough question, but life is found in answering tough questions…
How often do I live in the Red Zone?

Lunch in England With A Leadership Legend

October 29, 2015

Charles Handy is one of  the greatest management thinkers of the last century. Named as one of the ‘Thinkers 50’ he is often ranked next to Peter Drucker as most influential in the disciplines of management, organizational development, and leadership.

Several years ago, we had the chance to have lunch with Handy at his home in England.

As we listened, he recounted what he had learned years before as an undergraduate in business school – that a business exists in order to maximize earnings for its shareholders.

Sound familiar?

Then Charles Handy turned this idea on its head.

Over the next two hours, he explained that over the years he had to unlearn what he had been taught in business school. In fact, he concluded, “A business does not exist to make a profit. Rather a profit allows a business to exist to make a difference.”

This idea forms much of the inspiration for our book. We are determined to make a difference with the clients we serve – as a matter of fact, “Making A Difference” is one of the core values of our firm, TAG Consulting.

As we researched the book, we were determined to probe the secrets and best practices of difference-making organizations in the three sectors – Public, Private, and Social.

We started with the belief that regardless of what sector they worked in people deserve to be engaged in meaningful work that makes a difference.

And we discovered that the companies with cultures that ensured that their team members were difference-makers ended up with the most engaged employees. There is a direct connection between making a difference, employee engagement, and profit.

How To Ask Powerful Questions

October 27, 2015

Question-asking is an increasingly lost art in an era of constant talk and ‘pushing content’.

But asking the right questions is of primary importance in thriving through conflict, because we can’t work through conflict well until we put ourselves in the shoes of the other.

Four elements make for a powerful question:
1. It comes from a place of genuine curiosity.
Great questions aren’t means to an end – to win an argument, elicit information for negotiation purposes, to create leverage. A great question comes from a place where the asker admits at least the potential of ignorance and is  open to the possibility of growth in understanding.

2. It is direct, simple, and usually open-ended.
If I ask a question programmed to get a response or maneuver the one answering into a one-down position, I’ve introduced noise and the potential of defensiveness into the equation. My question’s intent is  clear – I desire information and for the one I am asking to have the time, space, and freedom to answer truthfully, without fear of losing.

3. It generates creative thinking and surfaces underlying information.
A question opens a dialogue – it doesn’t win an argument. It shows that I am engaged, poised to grow and develop a relationship, not best a partner in a negotiating. It invites the one answering to be truthful, vulnerable, and trusting. When this happens, previously hidden truths emerge and point the way through the conflict.

4. It encourages self-reflection.
In a real sense, a good question gives me more information about me – it reveals what I value, what I hope for, my strategic choices, and my desired outcome. And it invites the answer to reflect as well. “Yes” or “No” or “You’re right” may have value, but they only scratch the surface of our stories, experiences, and values. Deeper questions deepen relationships and self-understanding.

What’s the best question you’ve been asked recently?
What’s the best question you’ve asked recently?

Rewards on Release Day!

October 27, 2015

As the book launches today, we want to say thank you and to help get the message out to as many  people as possible – so we are offering incentives!

Here they are:
-If you buy 10 or more copies, we will give you a  free copy of the book OR one hour of free executive coaching from one of TAG Consulting’s nationally respected consultants.

-If you buy 20 or more copies, will give you a free copy  of the book AND two free hours of executive coaching.
For both offers, the executive coaching is for you OR you can offer it as a gift to someone else.

-For the first 10 positive reviews on Amazon.com we will give you a free copy of the book.

To claim your rewards, simply email a screen shot or forward of your receipt here or use Contact Us on this website. And thanks for reading and helping to get the word out about how winning  cultures create engaged employees!

Free Books and Executive Coaching!

October 27, 2015

We’re excited for today’s release of The Secret Sauce: Creating A Winning Culture by TAG partners Kevin Graham Ford and Jim Osterhaus.

To say thanks and to get the word out, we’re offering some great incentives for bulk purchases and positive reviews. Here are the offers:

-If you buy 10 or more copies we will give you either a free copy of the book or an hour of executive coaching by phone from of TAG’s nationally renowned consultants.

-If you buy 20 or more copies, we will give you a free copy of the book AND two hours of executive coaching – for you or for anyone you choose to give the coaching to as a gift.

-If you are one of the first ten people to write a positive review of the book on Amazon we will give you a free copy of the book as our way of saying thanks.

You can purchase the book here.

To claim your reward simply send a screen shot of a receipt or forward an email here.

Thanks for reading and thanks for helping get the word out about winning cultures, engaged employees, and the leaders who craft them!

Four Keys To A Healthy Organizational Climate (4)

October 26, 2015

In our research we studied the Pura Vida coffee company.  Pura Vida is Spanish for “pure life”. Pura Vida speaks of clean air, fresh water, and a healthy, relaxed, fun-filled lifestyle. But that lifestyle is historically unavailable to coffee farmers in the developing world, many of whom work, live, and raise families in unsafe conditions for very little compensation.

So, Pura Vida sells only Fair Trade and organic-certified coffee, insuring that a portion of the profits go to farmers and that they can live and work in a clean environment. This is a very good thing—laudable even—but Pura Vida is not the only company to do so.

What distinguishes Pura Vida is their audacious mission – to solve the world’s clean water problem.

It is what some would argue is the world’s leading economic and public health issue—access to clean water for drinking, bathing, cooking. It is a huge problem.

And Pura Vida aims to solve it while also making a profit.

How in the world do you bring the do-good motive and the profit motive together?

The answer speaks to Pura Vida’s Organizational Climate and its commitment to citizenship.
And it is summed up in their clever motto: “It’s better to give than to receive. Unless you can do both!”

Pura Vida brings water filtration programs to villages that have no clean water and also helps build economic infrastructure so that those villages can be self-sustaining. It’s the very essence of a mission-driven organization.

If you ever have the chance, talk to one of their employees or to Jeff Hussey. The office walls are unpainted—they’ll get around to it one day, but right now it just does not seem that important. One executive told www.seattlepi.com, “It’s very motivating to know that everything we do at Pura Vida is centered around our mission to create good.”

Everything–everything—at Pura Vida is imbued with this sense of a commitment to citizenship.
Not every organization will hold its corporate mission to do good as front and center, but every organization can be a great citizen—of their community and of the world. This is the right thing to do AND it is good business, because employees get more deeply engaged when they believe deeply that their work is about something bigger than just their work.

As we have said repeatedly, we have an innate desire to belong, contribute, and make a difference. Part of a great culture is being a great citizen. And citizenship is vital to creating a great climate.

The Secret Sauce Is Served!

October 26, 2015

Most of us agree: what drives organizational success – regardless of industry, size, or resources – is organizational culture.

To quote the late management genius Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

And winning leaders know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

TAG’s new book release, The Secret Sauce – Creating a Winning Culture, highlights what makes for a great organizational culture and more – the ‘secret sauce’ that separates great organizations from good ones.

Authors and TAG partners Kevin Graham Ford and James Osterhaus have created an engaging narrative woven throughout the book that shows how a young leader had to change over time to create a company that had something special. Merging the worlds of celebrity chefs and golf professionals,Secret Sauce Art, this story is an engaging and fast-paced primer on legacy-leaving leadership.

If you’re interested in creating your own culture that can deliver employee satisfaction, quality customer service, and sustainable success, The Secret Sauce will be a tremendous help to you. Bottom line, growth and success is not all about being smarter, more strategic, or having the best product. The number one predictor of success is satisfied and engaged employees. Read this book and you will discover how to mix your own ingredients for creating an engaging culture that thrives in an organization that understands what makes their own sauce so special.

You can get The Secret Sauce in both print and Kindle versions at Amazon – release date is October 27, 2015. And check out the book’s website here and follow us at Twitter (@booksecretsauce) for special offers and giveaways this week!

Four Keys To A Healthy Organizational Climate (3)

October 22, 2015

Transitions are hard, and the American economy has experienced more than its fair share in the last few years.

And how an organization handles transition can make or break it in terms of climate and culture.

Transitions do not just happen when someone is let go or moves on. There are three major times for transition:
1.    when a team member enters the organization
2.    as a team member progresses within the organization
3.    when a team member leaves the organization

When someone enters an organization, they begin to sense the culture from day one—actually, they pick it up in the hiring process. Starting a new job is both tough and exciting all at once. Exciting because of new possibilities. Tough because it may involve leaving old friendships and partnerships and navigating a whole new environment. The organizations with the healthiest cultures pay attention to these all-important moments.

Smart leaders recognize that the newcomer phase is important for creating engagement, attraction and loyalty, for all the right reasons.

As time goes on, transition continues to be a factor. Newcomers become old hands, look around them and see whether the team is retaining valuable employees or not, whether promotions are fairly rewarded or are a product of the politics of the good old boys/girls network, and whether team members are listened to, ignored, or condescended to.

The healthiest climates honor informal leadership as well as formal leadership. Sure, there are titles, dashes and lines on an org chart, and accountabilities . . . but there is also a sense that the best ideas can come from unexpected places and that a leader does not need to be an “executive,” “manager” or “partner” to play a key role in the direction of the organization.

Finally, when people leave—voluntarily or involuntarily—this wrenching transition is handled with grace and skill in organizations with healthy atmospheres. Changes rarely surprise people, because a premium has been placed on communication. People are encouraged to discuss their opinions and points of view on change, and those who leave are honored as they go, even if the reason for their leaving was difficult.

Transitions of all kinds are navigated well when you use these three practices:
1. Credibility: leaders are even-handed and fair, and so make deposits of trust, which can be borrowed against when tough changes have to be instituted.
2. Transparency—unless trade secrets that would compromise competitive advantage are at stake, leaders default to sharing details about the conditions that shape transition decisions, the rationale for unpopular decisions, and the long-term effects on all those in the organization.
3. Honor—in the case of terminations and layoffs, unless an employee was dismissed for ethical or legal reasons every effort is made to honor those leaving, thanking them for their contributions and pointing out their positive characteristics. This is the right thing to do for the one leaving, and it engenders trust and loyalty among those staying!

How about your organization’s transitions? How is your hiring process? Your professional development process? Your leave-taking process?

And how do those processes affect your organizational climate?