“Wants our business to be successful”
“Looks for ways to help instead of waiting on me to tell them what to do”
“Someone with similar values who cares about the mission of our team”
“Problem-solver, not just a problem-identifier”
These are all descriptions business owners use when asked to describe their “dream” team member.
Yet, too often, business owners feel stuck with team members who fall very short of these descriptors. You may find yourself with a couple of good team members plus a number of team members show up, do some work, but don’t give it their all. In fact, there’s a word for this—“presenteeism.” These are team members who punch the clock and collect their paycheck. They wait for you to tell them what to do, then do a mediocre job with what you have asked of them.
As an owner, your relationship with these team members is based on a transaction. They work, you pay them. They work harder, they may get a raise. The next business down the street decides to pay $1 dollar more per hour, so your team members leave to work for your competitor. You find yourself beating your head against the wall. You can’t afford to pay more than you do. So, what can you do?
Many business owners are dismayed to offer top pay, only to find loyalty lacking among their team members, performance still falling short, and turnover continuing to remain high. The problem is that money only goes so far as a motivator. And, money does not build loyalty.
In fact, various surveys have revealed many team members feel “used” by their employer, perceiving their employer is only using their time and skills to meet the goals for the employer and stakeholders, with little regard for the well-being of the team members.
What if you could have a very different, and much better, relationship with your team members?
What might happen if you positioned your business to be in the business of helping your team members realize their dreams? Imagine capturing the hearts of your team members, so that they know you have their back, as they look out for yours.
In The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly describes exactly what happened when a janitorial business plagued by extremely high turnover did just this. Although the story is fiction, the process described by Kelly is legitimate and quite effective in reducing turnover while increasing team member commitment, loyalty and engagement.
Many business owners and managers coach team members on their performance, but if that’s the extent of your coaching, you are missing out on a significant opportunity to increase their engagement and loyalty to your business.
Take the opportunity to ask your team members, “What is your dream?” Offer to support them—through their work with you—in achieving their dreams. Most likely, their dreams will surprise you. You may find their dreams are quite achievable, but they may not know how to access the support and resources they need to achieve their dreams. They may lack knowledge of certain life skills.
In The Dream Manager, Kelly describes team members who bought homes, took vacations, started their own businesses, started college savings for their kids, and more, all with the support of coaching provided to them through their employer. In turn, engagement increased, turnover dropped considerably, and morale improved dramatically.
Where to start?
Keep this simple. Start with your best team member and see where it leads. Take him or her to coffee. Ask ,“What are your dreams?” then be quiet and listen. Congratulations, you are starting a new chapter in the life of your business!
Want more ideas on using The Dream Manager with your team? Check out what Core Accounting is up to in our Great Place to Work Spotlight.
Dr. Sabrina Starllng, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series is the founder of Tap the Potential. Tap the Potential specializes in transforming small businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work!
Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses — no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing — and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from their strengths.
With her background in psychology, and years of driving profit in small business, Dr. Starling knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment — your team members.