TAG Consulting

A Football Coach Crafts Thriving Culture

December 4, 2017

You’ll appreciate this whether or not you are a football fan.

Coach Scott Frost took over a moribund University of Central Florida football program and turned it around dramatically. This season they are undefeated leading into their season-ending bowl game – a remarkable achievement!

This past weekend, Coach Frost – after a real struggle – decided to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater, Nebraska.

Many times when this happens, there is bitterness all around as players and fans at the former school feel jilted.

Not the case with Coach Frost. Media members reported nothing short of a love fest. But it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There were reasons behind the love.

Reporter Robin Washut wrote about what UCF players told him Coach Frost had meant to them:

He taught us how to love each other.”

“We forgot what the importance of team was, and he brought that back to us.”

“When Coach Frost came here, he built trust with everyone.”

If you’re looking for a great description of what a culture-crafting leader does, you can stop right there!

Would your team say those things about you?


Photo cred: Omaha World-Herald

5 Questions Culture-Crafting Leaders Are Asking

November 26, 2017

Crafting a winning culture is a long and challenging process. It’s important and encouraging to take inventory along the way – and helpful to know how you are doing based on the experiences of others.

Here are five great questions that leaders engaged in the process of changing or crafting a thriving organizational culture can ask as they go:

1. Would the people who work for me say I walk the talk?
2. Am I clear on my own personal values and do I live them out?
3. Are others clear on my personal values?
4. Do the products and services our organization offers the marketplace match up to what we say are our core values?
5. When we say things like ‘our biggest asset is our employees” do we actually behave as if that is true?

Employee Engagement: How Are You Doing?

October 31, 2017

In our multiyear study of organizations, we found that those with the strongest and best cultures could be counted upon for operational stability and integrity. They were extraordinarily well-managed enterprises. And they had highly engaged employees, who have a God-designed desire to contribute, to belong, and to make a difference.

We have found that organizations with high levels of employee engagement typically have these four characteristics:

1. Team members consider themselves to be empowered.

2. There is a culture of collegiality.

3. Management attracts top talent and rewards them accordingly.

4. Team members are fully engaged in their work and in the mission of their organization.

It really is as simple as that. Employee engagement is not dependent on industry, amenities, bells and whistles, geographic location, or the link. Empowerment, collegiality, talent recognition and reward, and personal connection to the mission of the organization. Have those four elements in place and you will have highly motivated and engaged employees.

How does your organization do with that checklist?

What Does A Dependable Organizational Culture Look Like?

October 10, 2017

An organization (or a person) is dependable if it can be relied upon to act in certain ways. If an organization honors its promises – to employees, customers, partners, vendors – over and over the it can call itself trustworthy.

In situations where other organizations might break their word or destroy trust, dependable organizations keep faith and maintain trust. As a result, people like working for and doing business organizations that are dependable.

So, what does this culture of dependability look like? It can be seen, specifically as it does three things over and over. Organizations with a culture of dependability:

  1. Make promises (and keep them). The US Constitution is a promise that makes our government and society possible. Churches, clubs, organizations of all kinds have covenants, policy manuals, systems and procedures that embody the promises which enable people to work together in an atmosphere of trust.
  2. They are consistent. People know what the organization will do and not do. When adversity or crisis strikes, their response is largely predictable. Their decisions and responses – in both good and bad times – is consistently good, consistently reliable, consistently trustworthy.
  3. They are predictable. This is related to, but different th at consistency in that consistency looks to the past and predictability looks to the future. When we have confidence that we can predict the  behavior of a person or organization then we can trust them.

Trust and a culture of dependability is built by people and organizations keeping promises and by behavior that is consistent and predictable.

Take the honest look – how does your organization rate in terms of showing a culture of dependability?

Creating A Culture Of Trust

September 18, 2017

The most important ingredient in the process of crafting a thriving culture is trust. WIthout trust, not much else matters.

Trust is built by people and organizations keeping promises and by behavior that is consistent and predictable. When those qualities are absent from an organization, the result is distrust, resentment, hostility and a sense of betrayal. Motivation and morale suffer, Organizational cohesion collapses. Everything becomes dog-eat-dog.

Success is rarely achieved in a dog-eat-dog environment, at least lasting success. Success thrives on unity and unity feeds upon dependability and trust.

Great organizations take care of their people, sometimes even at great cost. They always keep their word, always to the highest appropriate levels of transparency, disclose as much as legally possible and – in times of need – go above and beyond to care for their people.

In our years of research, the wording that describes this trait of trustworthiness has become crystal clear:

Management can be counted upon to come through when needed.

Great organizations do more than the minimum. And what this really means is that leaders do way more than the minimum.

Trustworthy leaders do not blame people for shortcomings – they are accountable themselves. They do not scapegoat colleagues to climb the ladder. At times they own more than their share of responsibility. They do not just provide adequate resources – they give their teams more than they need to get the job done whenever possible.

Think of your team. Guaranteed anonymity, would they say this of you: I can count on my leader to come through when needed?


A Proven Process For Making Great Decisions

August 25, 2017

As we work with organizations of all kinds to help them craft great organizational cultures, one of the most useful tools we use is called The Leadership Triangle.

Most leaders face a wide variety of challenges in any given day and in the face of that our response is often to go with the kind of decision that has worked for us in the past, without stopping to consider whether or not the current problem matches our experience.

In reality, leadership challenges fall into one of three broad categories, each of which requires a different way of thinking and a different process for resolution.

Not every problem is a nail, so make sure that your leadership toolkit includes more than a hammer!


The Leadership Triangle from TAG Consulting on Vimeo.

Where Power Really Lies In Your Organization

August 14, 2017

If there is one thing we have learned over years of working with all types of organizations, it is this: systems have power.

And all human systems fight to preserve the status quo, even if that results in death!

Like fish in water we live in systems often unaware of how they shape us. But everything is connected. Human beings live and move in systems; life is a dynamic interplay between people and events. And the systems we live in produce predictable results.

Here are five basic truths about how we are shaped by systems and the results they produce (we credit the thought of Peter Senge here):

  1. Today’s problem’s come from yesterday’s “solutions”. What worked in the past does not work anymore because external realities have changed.
  2. The harder you push the harder the system pushes back. The system is an unforgiving thing. It cannot be defeated, only understood, and over time transformed.
  3. Faster often results in slower. It’s vital to reflect critically and build ownership in stakeholders in the early changes of a change initiative.
  4. Small changes often produce big results – but the areas of greatest leverage are often the least obvious.
  5. There is no one to blame. We tend to want to make people scapegoats and culprits. But in fact people generally behave exactly how the system rewards them for behaving.

Each of these five truths have this in common – they are counterintuitive! When you have some time to reflect, to “get on the balcony”, consider each in turn and how they may challenge some of the predictable ways you tend to think and behave.

Crafting A Culture To Handle Change

July 30, 2017


The work of crafting thriving organizational culture involves change – a lot of it. At the same time you are creating a culture of change you have to insure that your current culture can handle the change your are bringing! It’s a lot to think about. But you can lead in such a way that the needed change has its very best shot.

Transitions are almost always wrenching for an organization or a team within an organization, even when the result of the transition will be beneficial to all concerned. Leaders can make transitions worse by insensitivity or tone-deafness to the effect the music of the transition has on the ears of the team.

Organizational transitions of all kinds are navigated well when you work to shape your culture by these three practices:

  1. Gain 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. Practice transparency – unless trade secrets which would compromise competitive advantage are at stake, default to sharing details about the conditions that shape transition decisions, the rationale for unpopular decisions, and the long-term effects on those in the organization.
  3. Demonstrate honor – in the case of terminations and layoffs, unless an employee was dismissed for ethical or legal reasons make every effort to honor those leaving, thank them for their contributions and point out their positive characteristics. This is the right thing to do for the one leaving and it engenders trust and loyalty among those staying!