TAG Consulting

4 Building Blocks For A Trustworthy Culture


September 28, 2017

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.

4 Keys To A Trustworthy Organizational Culture


April 23, 2017

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.

 

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.

It gets even more game-changing. Employee engagement is one of the hallmarks of a thriving organizational culture – the kind of culture where people experience the fulfillment of their innate desire to belong, to contribute, and to make a difference.

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?

Cynicism Is A Good Thing


February 28, 2017

The most healthy organizations allow for a balance between trust and cynicism when it comes to the outlook of their members.

Cynicism?

Yep.

Cynicism gets a bad rap. We tend to picture the cynic as the cranky, world-weary know it all on the last barstool to the right, or the tiresome guy in the break room who can’t stop talking about how the system is rigged against the little guy,

We tend not to seek out cynics in our personal life. And if we are ever accused of cynicism ourselves we’ll likely quickly and defensively say “No – I’m not cynical, just realistic!”.

But here’s a reframe: trust and cynicism go together.

Trust is the glue that holds an organization together. Employees will invest more trust in an organization that trusts them.

Our research which led to TED – The Engagement Dashboard, our online employee engagement survey, found that the number one predictive factor for a high performing organization is the deeply held belief that “Management can be counted upon to come through when needed”. That’s trust.

Trust is the currency of leadership.

But there’s a place for healthy cynicism too.

Cynicism says that new hires are not as likely to immediately replace the performance and reliability of the people they replaced so they need watching, accountability and support. Cynicism spurs the creation of financial controls and risk management strategies because it realizes that people won’t always do the right thing.

Cynicism isn’t the absence of trust so much as it is a way of reducing complexity.

For example, you’re driving alone on a rain-slicked road at night. The car coming towards you appears to be veering into your lane, a head on collision imminent.

To fully trust you have to suspend all belief that anything could be wrong – that the driver could be impaired or texting or reckless. You simply continue on your way without making adjustments or allowances.

But a little balanced cynicism recognizes that something could be amiss, allows you to raise your awareness and alertness and prepares you to take evasive action if needed. Without over-thinking it.

Here’s the bottom line for your organization: You can’t do the things that build trust unless you’ve done the things that manage cynicism.

In other words, the accountability and controls which healthy cynicism encourages allow for trust to flourish.

What about your organization?

Are you characterized by a culture built on trust? Or is it one where there is suspicion and unhealthy cynicism?

Are the appropriate standards, agreements, protocols, and standards of accountability which manage cynicism in a way that leads to the freedom that comes from trust?

 

 

The One Thing Every Winning Organization Must Have


January 30, 2017

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.

 

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.

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?

Balancing Trust And Cynicism


May 26, 2016

UHEDRVOEQN

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 late 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”.

A trusted advisor taking a supportive, outside look at your organization can help you make sure that you are balancing trust and cynicism in your leadership. You can find out more here!

A Trust Inventory For Leaders


March 31, 2016

inventory (1)
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. It is critical to business relationships, contracts between entities, marriages, friendships, even agreements between nations. Without trust, it would be impossible to have any social functioning whatsoever.

Both our research and our experience bears out the fact that trust is the essential ingredient for effective leadership.

Here’s a six question trust inventory which you might use at any time to take stock of your own personal trustworthiness and the trustworthiness of your organization.

1. Would the people who work for me say I walk my 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 we offer 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?
6. Is the way we treat customers, clients, and vendors congruent with what we say we believe as an organization?

These questions can be both a barometer and an action plan. You can answer them directly or with your team – both are beneficial!

We ask these sorts of questions with our leadership and executive coaching clients all of the time; having a trusted advisor is essential to personal growth and success.

To find out more about TAG’s leadership coaching opportunities, click here.

The Single Most Important Thing Leaders Can Do


March 11, 2016

Recent research tells us two things:
1. Eighty-five (85%) of CEOs believe that employee engagement is one of their most important priorities.
2. Only three out of ten American workers are engaged with their work.

What’s the disconnect?

Our study of organizational culture revealed that leadership effectiveness is a crucial component of both employee engagement and organizational performance.

And there is one word that encapsulates leadership effectiveness:

TRUST.

The single most important thing a leader can do is to be personally trustworthy and to commit to building a trustworthy organization.

The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

You can read more about our research and the employee survey we have developed from it called The Engagement Dashboard (TED) here.

From all of the data we collected we learned that a positive answer to one question more than any other predicted the long-term success or failure of an organization:
Management can be counted upon to come through when needed.

That’s dependability in a nutshell. It all boils down to this: can leadership be trusted?

There’s everyday trust – providing clear direction and adequate resources, communicating clearly, telling the truth. But organizations with a truly great culture go above and beyond.

They come through even when they might not be expected to. They allow for failure, risk, and experimentation. They distribute power and decision-making authority instead of concentrating it in the hands of a few. They share more information than is strictly necessary, even when hoarding information would provide increased power and influence to a select few. They demonstrate that they value their employees as human beings, not just as ‘resources’ filling roles and providing profit.

If there is a gap between where your organization is and where you would like for it to be, your best place to start asking questions is around this topic of trust. Are your leaders trustworthy? Are YOU trustworthy? Can people count on your leaders to come through when needed?

And if you are ready to take your organization to the next level, trust is also the place to start. What can your leaders do to push even further through trust barriers? Where can you share more, care more, risk more, communicate more?

TED would be a great place to start by taking a look behind the scenes of your organization. We’d love to serve as a trusted advisor to you on your journey to becoming a truly trustworthy organization that excels in both the bottom line and in the hearts and minds of your people.

You can find us here. We’d love to talk with you!