TAG Consulting

The 4 Keys To Employee Engagement

October 31, 2016

We live in a society characterized by distrust.

Trust with the political process is at an all time low. Occupations once considered trustworthy – such as the law and the ministry – rank low on trust indices. And a recent poll found that only seven percent of employees strongly agree that they trust their senior managers to look out for their best interests.

Even worse, only seven percent agree that they trust their coworkers to do so!

The reality is that we live in a world that is saturated with distrust and your employees or volunteers bring this distrust in the doors with them every day.

trust brown

But there is hope. The same poll found that 58% of employees who had strong trust in their management were ‘completely satisfied’ with their jobs and 63% would consider spending the rest of their careers with their organizations.

It’s indisputable – there is a direct link between trust in leadership and employee engagement and retention.

As we show in the research for our book The Secret Sauce: Creating a Winning Culture, employees who work for an organization defined by trust feel valued, work harder, experience greater satisfaction, and do not think about leaving for somewhere else. They belong, contribute, and make a difference.

An annual survey of “Best Places To Work In America’ found that the most appealing workplaces were distinguished by high levels of trust, cooperation, and commitment and did better than their peers and competitors in these ways:

  • They have stronger long-term financial performance
  • They experience lower turnover
  • They receive more job applications
  • They are more diverse in their employee/volunteer base

Inspired by these workplaces and others which we visited and chronicled in our book, we discovered four components which go into creating trustworthy leadership:

  1. Dependability
  2. Communication
  3. Learning
  4. Integrity

Find an hour of quiet ‘on the balcony’ time. Work carefully and thoughtfully through that list of four. Define them for yourself. And then take an honest look at your organization and rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 for each measure. Where can you celebrate? Where can you initiate enhancement efforts?

How To Respond In High Pressure Situations

October 30, 2016


It’s a tight situation, full of tension and conflict. All eyes turn to you as a leader, or as a key member of the team. Problem is, your own blood is boiling or at least your heart is pounding. You know you need to respond in a calm, measured way. But, truth be told, you are worried about what is going to come out of your mouth next. How do you say – and do – the right thing when conflict is high and the pressure is on? How do you respond in a Blue Zone manner?

When we are thriving through and not just surviving conflict, we speak of living in the Blue Zone.

The Blue Zone allows us to have conflict, even heated conflict, around ideas, values, mission, and strategy. While Red Zone (unhealthy) conflict moves us away from the team, Blue Zone conflict moves us beyond the team to a common purpose. The Blue Zone begins when you become aware of your own Red Zone and acknowledge it as your problem, not anyone else’s.

Creating the Blue Zone is essentially the life work of anyone who aspires to lead a deeply meaningful life. It requires that we are completely honest with ourselves and all of those around us in identifying our own core issues, which lead to conflict.

The Blue Zone is the willingness to accept responsibility for all our behavior and the consequences of that behavior. It is where we simply refuse to shift responsibility for our own actions to any person, institution  or thing.

When we are living life in the Blue Zone we:
-observe our own reactions in the midst of conflict
-identify our own core issues which are being triggered
-decide on an alternative response

And we do this again and again, refusing to lapse into the Red Zone.

We can’t control what happens to us, but we CAN choose how we respond – this is the main characteristic of life in the Blue Zone: purposeful, mindful, self-aware response to conflict which allows us to live in  a way consistent with our values.

Disrupt The Status Quo With These 8 Questions

October 30, 2016



All organizations tend to maintain the status quo.

This is true whether the organization is a business, a family, a government agency, or a not-for-profit.

We’re comfortable with the status quo, even if we know it could be better, and often we will work vigorously to protect it. It’s just the way systems work.

One of the main tasks of a leader is to disrupt the status quo, to bring change. The problem is that often we don’t know how to do it.

So, we rely on what has worked before. If we’re in the position of a leader, something we have done in the past has worked and so we keep trying that again and again…until it doesn’t work anymore.

You know the adage – if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you have a go-to approach for problem-solving, you will be tempted to use it over and over again.

Until yesterday’s solution becomes today’s problem.

In our book, The Leadership Triangle, co-authored by Kevin Graham Ford and Ken Tucker, we make the case that there are three different types of leadership challenges, each of which require a different kind of leadership solution (what we call an Option).

The Strategic Option is the first type of response. A strategic challenge arises when something in the environment external to your organization has changed in a way that impacts the organization. Maybe your customers’ preferences or values have shifted. Maybe a technological advance has disrupted your industry. Maybe a competitor has innovated in a way that threatens your market share. Maybe something has shifted in the regulatory environment and your rules of engagement are now different.

Whatever the case, your internal status quo has been disrupted by a change in the external status quo and you must change in order to remain relevant.

How do you do that, as a leader?

We suggest that you gather your team (after you have gathered your wits!) and run through this series of questions designed to grapple with your strategic challenge and move toward a wise and timely use of the Strategic Option:

  • What do we say yes to, that we should say no to?
  • What does our customer really value?
  • How are our competitors doing things differently than they used to?
  • What new competitors have emerged?
  • Who is our target audience, really?
  • What workarounds have our frontline employees adopted that could teach us something?
  • If we could create a niche for ourselves where we would be #1, what would that niche be?
  • What legacy will future leaders say we left behind for them?

If you wrestle with these questions and their answers, you will be much better equipped to deal with external disruptions, disrupt the status quo, and make wise and winning strategic decisions.

To read much more about the Strategic Option, check out The Leadership Triangle  on this page.

To learn more about how TAG’s team of experienced change leaders and status quo-disruptors can help your organization Discover its next best moves, click here.

What Does A TAG Leadership Coaching Session Look Like? (Video)

October 27, 2016

People who enter into a relationship with a leadership coach usually wonder how they ever went without it! But if you are unfamiliar with the process you might be understandably cautious. After all, what does a “coach” do? Blow a whistle? Demand that I do pushups? Yell at me?

Actually, a TAG leadership coach is a trusted advisor, for you at every step of the way, committed to your development as a leader even to the point of being willing to challenge you seriously. We specialize in asking the questions no one else might think to ask.

Veteran TAG coach Shane Roberson explains how a typical coaching session unfolds and what a typical relationship looks like in this short video.

What Can I Expect From A TAG Coaching Session? from TAG Consulting on Vimeo.

Can We Just Be Friends?

October 25, 2016


Healthy cultures feature team members who are not only empowered but also practice collegiality.

Some people think that empowerment and autonomy are the same thing. They are not. Autonomy is total and complete independence. Empowerment is leveraging a person’s individual strengths to achieve a common goal. Empowerment requires a shared direction, coaching, feedback, encouragement, and resources to accomplish a common goal.

When employees are empowered and supportive they have the personal margin and discretion to practice collegiality with each other. Team members in healthy organizations say about one another “My colleague’s word is his or her bond”. This level of trust is a big part of what we mean when we talk about collegiality.

In a healthy organization, people can count on their colleagues. They are colleagues in fact, not just in name – they row together instead of competing with each other for resources, promotions, reputation, and face time.

A finance manager in a large corporation looked at us over a blueberry bagel and coffee during a break. “I know I shouldn’t do this but I call the accountants on the team ‘my girls'”, she said. “It’s because we all know we can trust each other, tell each other the truth and if one of us is struggling or having a bad day we will cover for each other. Now, we demand performance – we hold each other accountable. But we take this teamwork seriously and we know our leaders do as well. We enjoy each other! I am glad to show up every day to work and say ‘I am so glad these are my colleagues!'”

Now, that’s collegiality. Everyone in the workplace does not have to be best friends. But in healthy cultures, people like and trust each other. If enjoyment and trust aren’t present, it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper to see what might be off center in your culture.

Red Zone/Blue Zone in 2 Minutes

October 25, 2016

We’re often asked for Red Zone/Blue Zone in a nutshell – a quick summary of what life in each Zone looks like. Here are our go-to bullet points, which will help you to quickly diagnose whether or not you (or your team) is in the Red or Blue Zone.


  • There is a focus on efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Structures of the organization are closely monitored and respected.
  • Business issues are the top priority.



  • There is a focus on feelings more than on results.
  • There are no common standards and no way of monitoring performance and behavior.
  • People in the organization assume “family” roles, i.e. mother hen, overbearing father, rebellious younger brother…

There are no absolutes but years of data and experience have taught that these signs are nearly iron-clad indicators of Red Zone or Blue Zone life.

What Can I Expect From Leadership Coaching? (Video)

October 24, 2016

Beginning a relationship with one of TAG’s deeply experienced leadership coaches insures that you will have a trusted advisor by your side to navigate the changes and challenges of leadership.

But if you’re new to the idea of leadership coaching, you may be wondering what to expect. Invest less than five minutes in watching this video, and let TAG’s Shane Roberson explain how coaching works and what you can anticipate in the experience.

TAG Leadership Coaching – What To Expect from TAG Consulting on Vimeo.

How To Get Ahead of Change

October 21, 2016


Recently we consulted with a family-owned general store. The store sold meats, vegetables, dairy products, clothing, hardware, toys, candy, and everything else you could imagine. They even had a computer repair service and tanning beds!

We were brought in due to a seismic shift in this small town. Walmart had just announced plans to build a new mega store, less than a mile away. Before we even arrived, the third generation owners of the general store knew that they had to change or die. Their options?


Create a niche.

Or win on personalized service.

But they knew that they could not compete head to head with Walmart on volume or price. What to do? What would you do?

Today, our world is in the midst of several seismic shifts. The late Andy Grove, founder of Intel (itself in the middle of a seismic shift as we write this post) describes these shifts as “strategic inflection points”. He defines these as “what happens to a business when a major change takes place in its competitive environment”.

This change can be simply change in the values of your customers or to their preferences. Or the introduction of a new technology impacting your business. Or the introduction of new regulations that shape your ability to do business.

What all of them have in common are that they require a fundamental change in business strategy from you. Nothing less will do.

Are there strategic inflection points on the horizon for your organization?
What is your strategy for monitoring the environment outside of your business so that you are not caught flatfooted when change comes?
Who in your organization is best prepared and gifted to see changes coming outside your four walls?