August 27, 2007

Staff Picks: Jack Covert Selects: The Dream Manager

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 2:08 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly, Hyperion, 176 pages, $19.95 Hardcover, August 2007, ISBN 9781401303709 Pat Lencioni has created a franchise by writing well-written, easy-to-read fables about business. His books feature subjects like meetings, team building and silos at work. Many authors have tried to duplicate what Lencioni has mastered, but most have been done wretchedly. But with The Dream Manager, storyteller and inspirational speaker Matthew Kelly has written a book worthy of Lencioni (who also wrote the forward). First, he presents a warning:
BusinessWeek reports that, over the next ten years, 21 percent of top management and 24 percent of all management jobs across all functions, regions, and industries will become vacant. Add to this trend an aging population, a shrinking workforce, and a growing intolerance for the illegal immigrant population that provides much of the unskilled labor in the United States today, and you have a talent and labor crisis of enormous consequence across all disciplines--from the highly skilled to the completely unskilled.
Kelly addresses this future crisis though his fable about one company's issue with turnover. The company is a commercial cleaning service. The company has just over 400 employees and a turnover of over 400% per year. The company decides to ask the employees why people are leaving, and are surprised to learn that the main issue is transportation. People simply couldn't get to work. The company creates a shuttle bus service--which costs them twelve thousand dollars per month--that runs to and from four main areas. The results are immediate. Employee's attitudes improve and turnover improves by over 400%. But the company still has 240% turnover after a year and many other problems that cause the company to hemorrhage revenue. In confronting the reality that an undedicated workforce has an effect on the bottom line, senior management suspects that the problem may be that the employees don't see a future for themselves. They are living every day just to survive. In other words, they have no dreams. After much wrangling, they create a position called "Dream Manager," whose sole job is to meet with the employees and help them think about and realize their dreams. These dreams range from owning a house to learning English. After three years of the Dream Manager Program, the company finds the amount of sick time people took is down 83% and lateness was no longer an issue. The amount of cleaning materials used declined as the employees got more efficient. The book, of course, has a final chapter called "Getting Started--Applications and Tools," so you can "try this at home," just as we will here at 800-CEO-READ.