Why Your Company Needs a Dream Manager…Stat!

by Jennifer Sigler| April 5, 2017 | Workhappy Blog

The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly offers great insights into the power of employee engagement in the workplace.

What is your dream?

Dreams define who we are as human beings: Our attitude and personality, what we want, what we work so hard for — dreams shape our entire outlook and approach to life. What if this question was commonplace in your company?

This is the driving force behind the book The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. While the book is fictional, it does a remarkable job at showing how a company can reach its own goals through helping its employees make their dreams come true. Matthew Kelly has quite the reputation for his keynote presentations, having spoken at conferences for national trade associations, Fortune 500 companies as well as NGOs.

While the book was published a solid decade ago, I had never come in direct contact with its application until a friend of mine began working for a fundraising, consulting and public relations firm.

“You will never guess who I met with at work today,” she said after about a week in her new position. “I met with the company Dream Manager.”

The what manager? That’s right, the dream manager. As in, a person, whose primary responsibility in the company is to care about the dreams of its employees.

This person is responsible for meeting with employees regularly to help them map out their dreams, and create a realistic plan toward achieving them. The company gives each employee a copy of this modern business fairytale upon hiring. In the book, Kelly outlines a janitorial company struggling with employee disengagement and a growing turnover rate.

Simon and Greg, managers within the company, set out to investigate the problem, only to find that employees are not indifferent or divested due to their wages, or even their position, but rather because of a lack of personal fulfillment.

What if the problem is not employee disengagement, but a disengagement of companies in their employees?

People need encouragement to feel that not only are their dreams matter, but are possible.

“This new breed of loyalty will be built on the principle of adding value. An employee is responsible for adding value to the life of a company, and a company is responsible for adding value to the life of an employee.”

Kelly emphasizes that prosperous companies owe much of their success to a dynamic collaboration. Companies become the best versions of themselves when their employees are living their best lives as well.

Kelly’s fictional company realizes that people need guidance and specific tasks to break down their dreams — or dreams will remain just dreams forever and never be realized. The principle responsibility of a dream manager is to not only help people envision their dreams but to hold them accountable.

They realized an ideal dream manager would:

  • Ask employees about their dreams
  • Listen actively
  • Help employees create a plan for achieving their dreams
  • Check in regularly for progress towards those dreams
  • Help when they can, and offer advice continually through the journey

The position, in fact, has much in common with life coaches, financial advisors and behavioral experts, and seems to comprise elements of all three.

But how does this play out in real life? My friend was asked to write down 50 dreams, big and small — without judgment. The dream manager met with employees individually to help them prioritize five of those dreams, and develop a plan to accomplish them. They schedule monthly check-ins to track progress, and adjust the plan as need be.

Having one dream, or at least focusing on one dream is not enough. Some goals take longer to achieve, and if you spend too much time working toward only one goal you are likely to feel discouraged. Striving for multiple goals simultaneously gives a person more opportunities to check those goals off and provides motivation to achieve even more dreams.

Employees at the consulting firm my friend works at have ran marathons, signed up for cooking classes and learned how to knit. Others are working towards dreams such as visiting every state in the U.S., purchasing a home, and paying off all their debt.

As Kelly writes, “we all have dreams. The earlier we start dreaming, and the more mentors and friends we have who urge us on toward our dreams. The richer our lives become. In time, we learn to help others achieve their dreams, and so the cycle continues.”

As an employee, if you felt the company you worked for helped you achieve some of your biggest dreams, wouldn’t you then be passionate about the company and actively engaged in your work? As an executive, don’t you covet this type of employee?

The book offers a powerful model of servant leadership and underlines the importance of seeing employees as people rather than personnel. Just being aware of this concept can completely change how you manage your team and relate to people as a whole. And while you may choose to take a different approach than Kelly, the one thing you must do is continually grow and develop your people. The reality is that managers and executives are grateful for employees who contribute exceptional work. But how many employees are grateful to management?

Jennifer Sigler is a Senior Writer with The UpWrite Group. Send a message to services@TheUpWriteGroup.com to see how she can help enhance your corporate or personal brand.

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