TAG Consulting

Is There Enough Cynicism In Your Culture?

November 15, 2017


It takes time to build trust in an organization…but cynicism spreads like crabgrass!

Cynicism can be a destructive, corrosive force, stalking your office corridors and internal comms channels, completely altering the environment of your organization.

But, let’s face it – cynicism can’t be completely eliminated. As a matter of fact, when it is tamed and leveraged cynicism can play a positive role in the life of your organization.

How can you balance cynicism and trust in your organization?

When you are driving down the road and see a car approaching you in the opposite lane you have to make the decision to trust that it is going to remain in its lane as opposed to crashing head-first into you. Hundreds of times each day, we make similar decisions to trust. There’s no other way to function in life. In a very real sense, trust is as necessary to our daily survival as food and water.

But, as counterintuitive as it sounds, we need cynicism as well.

Let’s say we are driving late at night in hazardous conditions. A car is approaching in the opposite lane, going too fast and weaving across the road. A healthy degree of cynicism would lead us to assume that the driver is intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated and to take defensive measures. In that case, I am right not to trust.

Same thing in our organizations. Trust is healthy – indeed it is the most important predictive factor in the success of an organization. But there is also such a thing as a healthy dose of cynicism.

You can’t do the things that build trust unless you’ve done the things that manage cynicism.

For instance, it is appropriate to be a little cynical when onboarding a new hire. They are not going to be as competent as a veteran in their first days on the job. They need to be supervised and mentored in the culture and processes of your organization, no matter how sparkling their resume and credentials.

This is healthy organizational cynicism. It’s not personal distrust. As a matter of fact, we put systems of accountability in place to remove the need for personal distrust.

People have strengths and weaknesses and we have to manage those as leaders. Healthy leaders aren’t shy about putting mechanisms in place to support both employees and the organization as a whole.

The art is in balancing trust and cynicism – distinguishing between cynicism that is healthy and that which is unhealthy.

Unhealthy cynicism never allows trust to grow. Healthy cynicism fosters a safe, controlled environment in which trust is the ultimate goal. Monitoring processes are in place but those processes are fair and flexible, not rigid and domineering. They create a climate of equity and ownership where employees can say “This is MY organization; I can trust and I feel trusted because I know our shared values and commitments will be honored by everyone.

Are You Dependable?

October 11, 2016


Our research and experience reveals 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

Let’s look at the first component –  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.

We’ve found 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.

To read more about Dependability as one of the four factors that lead to high-level employee engagement, check out our book The Secret Sauce: Creating A Winning Culture.

4 Unmistakable Signs of Employee Engagement

October 5, 2016


At TAG, we conducted a multi-year research project to identify organizations with the strongest and best cultures – those that could be counted on for operational stability and integrity. These were extraordinarily well-managed enterprises.

We discovered that these enterprises had highly engaged employees who have a hard-wired desire to contribute, to belong, and to make a difference. No surprise, right?

What frames our work with organizations today is our passion to see them develop these four characteristics of workplaces with high levels of employee engagement:

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 the mission of the organization.

Those four characteristics can serve as an initial checklist to you as you journey with us on the quest to craft healthy, winning organizational cultures.
The only place to start is at the beginning!

So, how does your organization measure up – on a scale of 1-5 – on each of these four characteristics?

Want to know exactly how engaged your employees are? Our online employee survey, The Engagement Dashboard (TED) offers unparalleled insight into the opportunities and challenges your organization faces. TED will reveal the keys to unlocking your healthiest organizational culture Find out more today by clicking here.