A Book Review

The Dream Manger is quick read and is typical for leadership fable – it provides insights into improving an aspect of business and life. When I first read The Dream Manager, I was struck by the simple elegance of the solution, encourage and provide a way for your team members to reach their dreams. Years ago when, I read the book I as working an a prestigious organization, yet the members were very negative and the environment was toxic. The Dream Manager is a tale about how a janitorial company was able to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover.

The book takes you on a journey through the eyes of Simon Roberts, the General Manager of Admiral Janitorial Services. The book opens with the challenge of very high turnover for the company and Simon with the task of developing a solution. Initially Simon conducts a survey to find out how to improve retention and this leads to some innovative solutions on transportation for employees. Simon really hits a home run with the concept of the dream manger program.

You may be asking what is a dream manger – a dream manager is part coach, part advisor, part financial planner. Throughout the book the dream manager program at Admiral Janitorial keeps growing an the retention rate of employees keeps increasing. People stay in organizations where they feel valued. Often the dreams in the book are simple and things many people may take for granted.

The question is addressed in the book on if this type of program is only good for a blue collar organization or would it work for white collar organizations as well. The answer is that everyone has dreams, or at least they should. At one point there is a question posed to one of the characters “When did you stop dreaming?” This is a sad reality for many people. Too often people are just going into work in all different fields to earn a paycheck not because it feeds their so their souls. Kelly provides a tale on how this can be changed.

Relevance Today

Although this is a book that is over two and half decades old it is still as relevant today as the day it was written; maybe more so. When I reread this book last week I realized that it was even more important today; it had not lost its luster. We all have dreams and the newest members of the workforce are placing more value on their dreams compared to previous generations. How do we create dynamic workplaces that not only fulfil the needs of an organization, but the needs of the team members in that organization.

The only way to find out is to develop trust between leaders and followers so that there can be an honest exchange. Kelly states:

“Finding a way to create an environment that the helps employees become the-best-version-of-themselves, while at the same time moving the company towards 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.”

In a post-pandemic world where employees and managers are fighting over return to work mandates – how many managers are asking why? Maybe the employee has been able to drop off and pick up their children from school during the pandemic and their dream is to continue to do so. Perhaps a team member is taking evening classes and a long commute won’t allow them to reach their dream of higher education. It could be as simple as people finding that going into a half empty office where they are less productive is soul-sucking and a dream killer.

Purchase the Dream Manager