TAG Consulting

The 1 Most Important Quality of a Winning Organization

February 15, 2016

Our online employee survey, The Engagement Dashboard (TED) has collected data from hundreds of companies and thousands of employees to reveal what it takes to unlock a healthy organizational culture, with productivity, engaged employees, and the hidden talents and capabilities of its people.

TED reveals a host of dimensions that go into making a great organization, but one stands out as the only dimension in the entire survey that requires only one sentence to sum it up – Dependability.

guy with chains

Here’s the sentence:

Management can be counted upon to come through when needed.

It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of this metric.

People will put up with almost any “what” if they get the “why”  – the knowledge that we are engaged in something great and life-altering and useful and good and we can count on our leaders.

The single question – ‘Can I count on my leaders?’ – was the only other question to correlate to every other question in TED. Dependability is nearly everything.

Dependability is all about the leader. The leader must provide the support needed and then get out of the way. The leader matter less than the cause.

Can you as a leader be counted upon to come through for people no matter what? Will you get your hands dirty, will you walk out the talk of your shared values, will you incarnate the organizational code, will you risk losing yourself to disrupt the status quo?

Can YOU be depended upon to come through when needed? And, if you are just beginning your career of leadership, are you putting into place the conditions and habits which will develop the kind of character where you will be depended upon at the end of the day?

Are you dependable? And is your organization?

To find out more about TED, click here.

Organizations Learn Too

January 5, 2016

This is the third in a series on the four characteristics of trustworthy organizational cultures that our research revealed:

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

Put together, these characteristics lead unfailingly to employee engagement!

Today, Learning!

learn circle

There has been lots of talk about “learning organizations” for years now, but precious little clarity.  We’ve found that a learning organization sets up systems, processes and structures that insure best practices and, as a result, create engaged employees.

We’ve discovered that systems must be in place for four specific behaviors.

First is appropriate risk. Engaged employees tell us that they feel that they are given permission to take chances in their work. Mistakes made in good faith are not punished or made a part of partisan office politics – they are treated as a learning experience. Many of the engaged employees in our research cited examples of a boss or mentor who came alongside them in a time of failure, acknowledged the failure, but also offered perspective and a second chance. This built confidence and resulted in a fertile ground for innovation.

Second is problem-solving. Some people enjoy setting goals and accomplishing them. Others enjoy solving problems. Most of us excel in one or the other. Problem-solvers are not generally glamour-getters. As a matter of fact, they are often written off as naysayers or overly cautious. In fact, this is just the problem-solving brain at work anticipating challenges and kicking into gear.

Leaders who are crafting winning cultures look for this trait and make sure that every layer of management is seasoned with problem-solvers who can anticipate the challenges that a compelling vision will face.

Next is initiative. Our survey told us that the most engaged employees feel as if they have a lot of room to “play” in their work. Their new ideas – even the off the wall ones – are accepted and they are given freedom to chase them down even if the immediate payoff is not always evident.

Organizations that encourage initiative don’t often voice “Stay in your lane!”.

Most often, you will hear in such organizations “Find or invent a new lane!”.

Finally, learning organizations put a premium on personal development. “I get a sense that they care about me as a person, not just a role or function” say the engaged employees we have gotten to know.

One of the easiest ways to communicate this care is by providing time and resources for team members to grow and learn in areas related not only to their work but also to their passions.

This may be paying for community college classes, offering in house retreats or seminars, or even paying for employees to take a day and explore a personal passion. Work is work but when employees are free to pursue personal passions that lead to individual development both the employee and the organization profit!

What about your organization?

Are you best described as a learning organization?

Do you have systems in place that encourage risk, problem-solving, initiative, and personal development?

What steps can you begin to take early in this year to put those systems into place?



For Employee Engagement, Be Dependable

December 23, 2015

In a post several days ago, we shared that our research revealed that there are four components that go into the trustworthy leadership which is an inevitable predictor of employee engagement:

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

We’ll focus on each in turn. Today is Dependability.

A person or organization is dependable if it can be relied upon to act in certain ways. If I do what I promise, over and over, you will view me as trustworthy and dependable. Same thing for an organization.

Dependable organizations say what they mean and mean what they say. They can be relied upon when the chips are down. In situations where lesser organizations might succumb to pressure and break their word, dependable organizations keep the faith even when the short term price feels too high. As a result, people like doing business with and working for dependable organizations.

Like them or not, the Duke University Blue Devils are a legendary basketball program led by a legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski. When asked to name his greatest accomplishment, “Coach K” doesn’t list the multiple conference and national championship banners or rattle off a list of first team All-Americans or cite his record-breaking win total.

His self-reported finest accomplishment? “When that kid who plays here knows that I’ve been honest with him”.


We found these three characteristics of dependable organizations.

  1. They make and keep promises. This is the social and leadership contract that makes organizations of all kinds – business, governments, churches, charities, families – possible. It is the necessary foundation for trust, which is the necessary foundation for loyalty, safety, and engagement.
  2. They are consistent. Over time, dependable organizations, like dependable people, act in ways consistent with their stated values. No matter the internal stressors or external pressures, these organizations act just as they have in the past, securing the present and creating trust in the future. What was important yesterday will be important today and will be important tomorrow.
  3. They are predictable. Consistency looks to past experience. Dependability is more than a promise – it is a commitment rooted in a track record. When we have confidence that we can predict the behavior of a person or organization then we can have trust in that person or organization. Our faith in them won’t be disappointed.

At TAG Consulting, one of our highest aspirations is to help organizations live into their true selves, consistent with their values, creating a climate and culture of dependability where employees are fulfilled and fully engaged.

The 4 Building Blocks of a Trustworthy Culture

December 14, 2015

We live in a society characterized by distrust. And this distrust has invaded the cultures of the organizations in which we work.

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 bring this distrust in the doors with them every day.


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. Organizations which have cultures characterized by trust are thriving organizations.

Our research and experience at TAG shows that employees who work for an organization defined by trust feel valued, work harder, experience greater satisfaction, and are less likely to 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

Organizations with thriving cultures have as one of their components the experience of Connection – their people are connected by trust and a willingness to let each other shine. Connected organizations are characterized by these four attributes.

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

Here’s an idea: have your leadership team engage in a series of discussions about trust in your culture, revolving around those four attributes. You’ll discover where trust is deeply rooted in your organization. And you will discover ways to shore up trust where it is lacking.

Three Things Every Employee Wants

November 19, 2015

The number one predictor of organizational success is fulfilled and engaged employees. That’s why the ‘hot’ field of employee engagement is no passing fad – engaged employees are no less than the most significant differentiator for every organization, in every sector.

(Because we work with not-for-profits as well as public and private sector organizations we should add that engaged volunteers are what most help social sector organizations such as churches succeed).

The measure of success in each of the three sectors – Public, Private, and Social – may look very different. But every organization in each of the sectors must have engaged employees if it is to be successful. Whether they are corporate executives, sales professionals, skilled craftsmen, teachers, counselors, or day care workers an employee must be fulfilled in their work and passionately engaged in their service if they are to give their best and if the organization is to thrive and win.

There are three things every employee or volunteer in every organization wants, even craves:

Everybody wants to belong, to contribute, and to make a difference.

In TAG’s most recent book, The Secret Sauce: Creating A Winning Culture , we argue that our greatest purpose in life is to be part of a creative community. This is at the core of being human. It’s that big of a deal! Perhaps your highest calling in life is to discover your place and contribution within a creative community.

Not every workplace can be called a “creative community”, as you well know. Some are toxic and destructive. Some are just plain boring.

Some are in between.

Consider this: if one of the highest human aspirations is to belong to a creative community then if you are the leader of an organization you have the opportunity to leverage your day to day work – whatever it is – to meet one of the deepest needs humans have.

Just think of that.

So, how are you doing as a leader and how is your organization doing in terms of:

  • Being a place where people belong, rather than just show up.
  • Calling on the most valuable talents and passions of your people and offering them ample opportunity to shine.
  • Creating work that not only has value in terms of profit but in terms of contributing to and making a difference in the lives of your employees, customers, vendors, and clients.

See, work is a noble thing and organizational life is a sacred trust.

This is what animates us day to day and leads us in our work, whether it’s coaching a leader, crafting a strategic plan, helping an organization analyze its market potential, or creating high-performing teams.