January is traditionally a time when businesses plan out the main objectives they want to achieve by the end of the year. Usually, the conversation is limited to how to maximize profit from the resources they have. However, this year, in addition to looking at our goals, we took a step back and asked: “What are our employees’ goals for this year?”
As we look to our staff and ask them to help the business grow, we should be willing to return the favor. I know what I’m suggesting is somewhat radical in the world of business, but this year we decided to invest time and money into helping our employees reach their personal goals.
Inspired by Matthew Kelly’s book The Dream Manager, we followed in the trend of companies like Infusionsoft and Heart Light Enterprises and hired Jeff Vanlaningham as our Dream Manager. For those who haven’t read the book, a Dream Manager’s purpose is to help employees achieve their personal and professional dreams and provide them the resources to achieve them.
This is still a new concept in the world of business. Since the announcement, I’ve had a lot of questions about what this means. Many wonder if it’s a good investment of our company’s time and resources. I want our customers and partners to understand this decision, so I’m going to discuss, in detail, the why behind the Dream Manager and what we are hoping to achieve.
Why a Dream Manager?
Reading The Dream Manager was not the first time I entertained the idea of having a life coach for our employees. I had considered it back in the early days as one of those amazing things to have when we were “successful”. As time has passed, I’ve realized success is more than just money.
Our time on this world is so fleeting and I wanted to help others be the best version of themselves in the time I was given. Some of that may end up being counter-intuitive to our own profits as it could mean some great people leave to pursue a dream that doesn’t involve us, but I believe it’s part of my calling as a Christian to help people’s’ lives be better off in some way.
Company morale plays a big part in making an impact in company culture and often people are unfulfilled in their current job. The idea of having someone on staff focused on improving morale and helping people find their calling appealed to me. This just seems right for our business, as a whole, even over my own profits as an owner.
Making sure people love what they do has always been essential to who I am. It’s what led me to drop out of college and become an entrepreneur. It’s true, as an entrepreneur, the people working for you might be sacrificing their own dreams of running a business to make yours a reality. Of course, the people who work for you have dreams, but that may be outside their current job or have nothing to do with their professional life.
This is what led to the decision to hire Jeff as our Dream Manager. During his interview, we talked about what BNG was about and how we wanted BNG to be a positive impact on our team members’ lives. How can we help everyone be the best version of themselves?
That’s when Jeff opened up about his real passion of being a steward of company culture and the thought of the Dream Manager position. After reading the book and speaking with Jeff, I knew this was the right decision for us. Hiring a Dream Manager would help our employees reach their personal goals and improve company morale. Every business wants employees who will put their heart and soul into their jobs, so we need to go the extra mile for them in return.
What are the goals?
As an owner, I can’t have my employees follow their dreams and not consider how it’s going to affect the business. However, I am confident that if our team is personally fulfilled they are going to be a net positive for our business.
The truth is people who aren’t happy aren’t going to be amazing at customer service or have an outstanding work ethic. People’s emotional wellbeing matters. Businesses can’t ignore their employees and think it has no repercussions on their profits and customer satisfaction. The best any business can do is to make sure their employees are inspired to be their best.
When you invest in the emotional support of your employees, their morale and work ethic increases, and often, those people will stay much longer with your company than they would otherwise. Not everyone’s dream is going to be a career switch; it can be running a marathon, buying a house on the lake, or taking night classes to further their education. Encouraging dreams doesn’t negatively impact business, it increases productivity.
When people are satisfied emotionally they share that with others. An employee in sales might connect and offer a compassionate ear to a business owner struggling to realize their dream of running a successful business. The support employee can listen to a frustrated customer and empathize with their current unhappiness. When you share joy with your employees, they will pass it onto your customers.
What will the results look like?
Hiring Jeff as our Dream Manager holds us accountable to our core values. Of those core values, the one that means the most to me is Happy & Grateful. If I don’t show my own team how grateful I am for their work and time, then I’m not living up to the value I’ve set for everyone on our team to exhibit.
I want to do everything I can to make sure that we’re encouraging our talented staff to pursue what drives them and grow to be the best they can be, wherever that takes them in life.
Could that potentially impact our profits?
I wish I could give a scientific number or results, but I sincerely believe that impacting people’s lives at work and taking their dreams into account makes their world and the work they do better.
Jeff and I have been working together with other members of our leadership team to lay out a plan on executing our vision of what our Dream Program will look like and what results we can expect. Here are some of the main things Jeff wants to accomplish:
Build out the Dream Program for BNG
- This will include voluntary exercises that will help employees identify their dreams and giving them the chance to participate in the program
- Setting up one-on-one meetings with participating employees and discuss plans and ways to track progress
- Building resources for the team to take advantage of and guide their path
- Develop trust between employees in the Dream Program and create an open communication environment
Again, saying we support employee’s dreams is meaningless if we don’t take action and put things in place to make those dreams achievable.
This is certainly going to be a year full of changes for our company, not just with our new building but creating this program for our employees. I truly believe all of this is going to make a difference in our employees’ performance and work ethic, and that ultimately better service for our customers.