Doug’s Book Review of the Month



From the Leadership Book List:  The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly


Keeping with the theme of employee engagement and retention this month, I read Matthew Kelly’s The Dream Manager upon the recommendation of my friend Paul Brown at Cinder Staffing.  Contrary to my initial guess that the book might suggest ways of being a dreamier manager, the story’s protagonist actually conquers his company’s turnover troubles by creating the position of a “manager of employees’ dreams”.

Backing up a step, this business fable describes a fictitious commercial janitorial company in which employee turnover is a staggering 400% and devastating the results of the business.  The hero of our story is General Manager Simon Toberts who is charged by the CEO with reducing turnover to improve the bottom line.


Taking the advice of his newly hired assistant, Simon realizes that keeping employees happy has less to do with compensation, and more to do with engagement.  And while he is realistic that his new hires don’t dream of cleaning high-rise offices for their lifetime, they do in fact have dreams of all sorts.  Perhaps, Sandra suggests, if the company were to help employees achieve their dreams, they would stick around, at least as a longer-term bridge to their next milestones of their careers.


What Simon and his company discover is that his employees who are focused on, and working toward their dreams (e.g. buying a house, finishing college, going on a long vacation) become engaged, loyal, and encourage their friends and family to come work with them.  Along the way, the Dream Manager program greatly reduces turnover to an enviable 12 percent and Simon is sought after as a presenter and consultant to espouse his Dream Manager strategy.  His janitorial company becomes a profit-generating machine while dramatically increasing employee happiness.


While our leadership team has been implementing strategies to keep our employees engaged and their goals fulfilled for a number of years, this book helped me put a wrapper of intent and organization around our current efforts.  While Portland Internetworks may still be too small to create a full-time Dream Manager position at our company, we are looking at ways to formalize our strategy of helping our employees reach their dreams so that their time with us, whether a few years or an entire career, is deeply valued and our loyalty to each other is exemplary.


If you are interested in learning new ways to engage and retain your employees, I’d be happy to send The Dream Manager to the first 25 people who get in touch.