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The Dream Manager

The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly

Here are some of my notes…

An organization can only become the-best-version-of-itself to the extent that the people who drive that organization are striving to become better-versions-of-themselves.

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You do the math. What does your payroll amount to? If on average your employees are 75 percent engaged, disengagement is costing you 25 percent of your payroll every month in productivity alone.

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The real cost to your business is of course much higher when you take into account how disengaged employees negatively affect your customers and every aspect of your business.

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A company’s purpose is to become the-best-version-of-itself. The next question is: What is an employee’s purpose? Most would say, “to help the company achieve its purpose,” but they would be wrong. That is certainly part of an employee’s role, but an employee’s primary purpose is to become the-best-version-of-himself or herself. Contrary to unwritten management theory and popular practice, people do not exist for the company. The company exists for people. When a company forgets that it exists to serve its customers, it quickly goes out of business. Our employees are our first customers, and our most influential customers. A person’s purpose is to become the-best-version-of-himself or herself. Finding a way to create an environment that helps employees become the-best-version-of-themselves, while at the same time moving the company toward the-best-version-of-itself, may seem impossible to many; to others, these purposes may seem diametrically opposed; but in reality, they are astoundingly complementary.

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“These people all have dreams. We need to find a way to connect their job today with their dreams for tomorrow. I’ve been studying the turnover reports all week, and it seems that on average we keep an employee for about six months. A year ago, the average was three months. Imagine if we could increase that to three years. That alone would radically transform our whole business model.”

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“If we can help our employees beyond the quiet desperation of mere survival by teaching them to dream again, and help them to fulfill their dreams, we’ll create a loyalty and dedication that’s unmatched. And then our people will bring the passion and energy they have for their dreams to their work.”

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And while it may be argued that it’s not our responsibility to help our employees fulfill their dreams, I would pose the question: Isn’t one of the primary responsibilities of all relationships to help each other fulfill our dreams?”

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Some wanted to go to college, others wanted their children to go to college. Some wanted a car, others a vacation. One employee simply wrote, “a proper Christmas,” while another wrote, “a better life for my children.” Some wanted to learn English, others wanted to teach Spanish, and more than a few dreamt of owning their own business. What was the most common dream among the employee responses? Home ownership. More than 60 percent of those who turned in their surveys included the desire to own a home as one of their dreams.

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“I’m glad you asked.” Simon beamed. “As best I can tell, there are two things that keep people interested in a job: the sense that they are making a difference and the sense that they are progressing or advancing. Now, we are under no illusions here at Admiral, we are a janitorial company. We are not curing cancer and we are not organizing the cancellation of Third World debt. The sense that we are making a difference is limited, so we have to give our employees an abundance of the latter. We have to give them an opportunity to progress and advance. When people feel they are progressing, they are much less likely to start looking around for another job. It is when they don’t feel that they are advancing that they start to get restless.”

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“We all need it. Taking this job has made me see that I need a Dream Manager, too. Everyone needs a Dream Manager. To a certain extent, we can do it for ourselves. But we all need someone who can help us articulate our dreams, determine the priority of our dreams, pull together a plan for the fulfillment of those dreams, and hold us accountable on a regular basis for the actions that help us achieve our dreams or hold us back from our dreams,” argued Sean.

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“The most disturbing thing to me has been the amount of financial illiteracy. I thought it would exist among the lower-paid employees, but it’s amazing how prevalent it is even among the managers.” “Say more about that,” Greg coaxed. “Mark Twain once wrote, ‘Those who don’t read great books are at no advantage over those who cannot read.’ The same is true when it comes to money. Those who don’t manage their money well are no better off than those who don’t have money to manage. There are a lot of people here making really decent incomes who are still financially unfit. There are people here whose job it is to manage budgets or various accounting functions, who don’t have a budget themselves, cannot or do not balance their checkbooks, and are laden with consumer debt.”

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Let’s face it, the reason most people want to manage their money is so they can achieve their dreams. Dreams drive us. If you help your employees identify their dreams and pursue their dreams, they will do the same for your customers, and your business will boom.”

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“Well, I’ve been sitting here for the last thirty minutes, listening to this little voice in my head ask me questions like: How concerned do you think your manager is about your career? What about your employer? Do they care about your personal development? And the answer is, they don’t. Or if they do, they haven’t bothered to share it with me. What you are doing for Daniel, and me, and your other employees, is powerful…and I just want you to know that I am really, really grateful.”

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“If we really want to help people, we have a responsibility to help them identify and pursue their dreams. In that way, I’m a Dream Manager for my husband, for my children, for my friends, for my colleagues here, and for people who just pass through my life. Not in the same way Sean is a Dream Manager, but every relationship improves when we are mindful of each other’s dreams.”

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“And why do you think there is such resistance?” “Two reasons. First, because people are always looking for quick fixes and there are no quick fixes to situations that involve real, living, breathing people. The second reason is that too many businesspeople believe business is only about making money, so they can’t think beyond the paradigm that wants to use money to solve problems.”

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He’d known that the recruiting and training costs produced by turnover were enormous, but it was only now that they were solving the turnover issue that the many hidden costs of a disengaged workforce became apparent.

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Just last week, I read that research conducted by Bliss & Associates reveals the cost of turnover is at least 150 percent of an employee’s base salary.”

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As a manager, it would be easy to read this book and immediately begin to focus on the dreams of the people you manage. To do this would be to miss a most critical step.

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Get yourself a Dream Book. Start writing down your dreams. Dream without limits. Date your dreams as you add them to your Dream Book. Date them again when you achieve them.

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As you write your Dream List, I offer you these twelve areas to stimulate a good cross section of dreams: Physical Emotional Intellectual Spiritual Psychological Material Professional Financial Creative Adventure Legacy Character

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After one week, go through the list and apply one of the following three categories to each of your dreams: short-term (within twelve months), mid-term (one to five years), or long-term (five years or more).

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In January, I hold staff reviews and I encourage each of my employees to bring their list of one hundred dreams to their review. As part of their review, I like to talk to them about their dreams, and during that meeting I try to pinpoint one dream that I can help them achieve in the coming year. Sometimes it is a simple thing, something that can be easily attained. At other times, the dream requires considerable planning.

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Help your employees develop goal-setting and strategic-planning skills by chasing their personal dreams, and they will gladly bring these skills to their work because they cannot help but bring them. The hunger to achieve goals and dreams becomes almost insatiable, the desire for continuous improvement becomes a guiding force in their daily lives, and all of this will inevitably overflow into their work, and in the process, will elevate your team and your business.

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Book Motivated Money, reminds his readers that “Making money without having a dream to fulfill is pointless and obscene.” Most Americans today spend more money each year than they earn, descending further and further into debt. Collectively, Americans save less than one penny for every dollar they earn. Why do people save so little? The answer, I believe, is because they don’t know what their dreams are—and without a clear vision of their dreams, they simply fail to see the point of saving.

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If your company doesn’t have a Dream Manager Program, or won’t start one, start it yourself! Gather a small group of employees—coworkers—not more than perhaps eight. Meet with this small group once a week, before work or during your lunch break. Talk about your dreams. Get a Dream Book. Make a Dream List. Begin to develop plans and time-lines. Follow the Dream Manager Program if you wish. Encourage each other. Keep each other accountable. When you need professional advice (financial, legal, fitness, diet, etc.), seek it.

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Before long, others will want to join. Split your group in two groups of four, and allow four new members to join each group. New people with different dreams give us new perspectives on our own dreams and renew our enthusiasm to chase our dreams.

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The new breed of loyalty will be based upon an understanding between employees and companies of one another’s purpose—to become the-best-version-of-themselves.

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A manager’s role is to organize employee effort for the attainment of an organization’s goals and purpose. In the past, managers have relied heavily on the stick and the carrot. Now it is time to discover the awesome effectiveness of management by dreams.

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In all of this, we have overlooked the startling reality that if you play a role in teaching your employees how to manage their money, they will manage your money more effectively and be less distracted by personal financial concerns. If you play a role in helping your employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle, your health insurance costs will be reduced and your employees will be more effective because they are healthier. The examples are endless.

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Rule #1—You cannot reasonably expect people to do for your company what they won’t do for themselves.

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Teach them the importance of strategic planning in their own lives and they will understand its importance in the life of your company. The same is true for dreams and goals. If you want to engage employees in corporate dreams and goals, you must first engage them in their own personal dreams and goals.

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