Why Every Company Needs a Dream Manager

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Increasing employee engagement, creating a healthier culture and building a world-class organization that sees exceptional growth every year is what all leaders in any industry wants for their organization. If that is the goal for most leaders, then why do so few organizations succeed at the above three?

There are a ton of reasons that may be hindering an organizations success, but one key area that majority of companies completely neglect or refuse to pay any attention to is their employees’ personal dreams and desires.

I recently spent some time with Infusionsoft at their headquarters in Chandler, Arizona. You may have heard of them already, but Infusionsoft is a complete sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. I was completely blown away by their positive and healthy culture, employees and everyone’s eagerness to build the company to even greater success.

There are plenty of people who deserve credit for the culture at Infusionsoft, especially their CEO Clate Mask. What took me by surprise though was to find out that they have someone on staff who is actually labeled as their dream manager. Dan Ralphs, who is the dream manager at Infusionsoft, has one job description — to help the employees of the company achieve their personal dreams.

One of the company’s employees a few years back had read The Dream Manager by bestselling author Matthew Kelly. He loved the book so much that he desperately wanted to get it in the hands of Clate Mask, the CEO of the company. Being an avid reader and leader who is always looking to grow himself, Clate accepted the book and read it on a flight. Once he was finished with the book, he immediately knew that Infusionsoft was going to going to have a dream manager on staff.

In the book, Kelly writes, “The future of your organization and the potential of your employees are intertwined — their destinies are linked.” At Infusionsoft, you see this clearly, as employees are actively engaged in the workplace while passionately helping the organization build towards the grander vision while in return, the organization is passionately helping employees work towards their biggest personal dreams.

When talking to some of the employees at Infusionsoft, I would hear things such as, “I ran my first marathon because of Infusionsoft” or “I am almost out of debt because of Infusionsoft.” Hearing some of the personal dreams that have been accomplished is truly astonishing. Infusionsoft isn’t making miracles happen to make dreams come true for their employees, but they do show them that they immensely care about them as people and want to provide them with the resources and tools to help them achieve some of their biggest dreams in life. In return, they have employees who are extremely passionate about the company that they work for and are actively engaged in the workplace.

“The Dream Manager concept provides a revolutionary way of reversing this crippling trend toward disengagement and demonstrates how organizations large and small can actively engage their people once again, thus creating a competitive advantage of monumental proportions,” Kelly says.

You might be asking, how exactly does the dream manager program work? At Infusionsoft, every employee has the opportunity to meet with Dan Ralphs, the company’s dream manager. He asks them to write down one hundred dreams and eventually they pick one dream together and start to develop a plan on how to accomplish it. From there they have follow up meetings and track the progress of where everyone is at in relation to achieving their dream for the year.

The absolute best way to transform a company is to transform the people within that company. Regardless of what industry you are in or how big or small your company is, one of the best ways to engage your people, create a healthy culture, and get everyone on board to work towards the organization’s grander vision is to care and help them achieve their personal dreams.

You may come up with something completely different than what Infusionsoft has adopted or what Mattew Kelly writes about in his book,The Dream Manager, but the one thing you can’t ignore is constantly looking for ways to grow and develop your people. After all, your company can only become as great as the people within it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

When Leading Through Change, Adopt These 4 Strategies

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The two guarantees in life are taxes and death. No matter how much we hate both, they will be there. There is no way around them.

In business, the one guarantee is change. Organizations of all sizes will experience a great deal of change at some point and it’s up to the leader to create an atmosphere of effective adaptation. The best organizations that dominate the market and competition have leaders that know how to lead through change better than anyone else, as well as bring out the best in their people during times of extreme uncertainty.

Here are four important strategies to lead through change:

1. Stay purpose driven.

When your organization is experiencing turbulent times and you are in a position where you have to lead through change,you must stay purpose driven. If the leader of an organization veers away from the organization’s purpose, how in the world are the employees of that organization supposed to stay on target? It’s just not going to happen.

You might not know the exact way in the beginning, you may be more nervous than you have ever been in your career or the criticism from the outside world may be at an all-time high, but if you direct all of your focus on staying purpose driven and creating a culture high on purpose, the “how” will eventually present itself.

2. Communication must be constant.

I write about communication a lot, and a major reason for that is because I think there are too many organizations that undervalue its importance, especially during times of major change. Great communication is required to create great relationships. Great communication is required for athletic teams to perform at a high level. The same goes for organizational health and being able to lead effectively.

It’s important for leaders to constantly communicate from a technical standpoint, but also to reinforce much needed inspiration and acknowledgment of their people. The next time change hits your organization, whether big or small, make it a priority to become a world-class communicator.

3. Invest in your people.

As a leader, you have to understand that the most important people are the ones who work with you. These are the men and women that are expected to carry out your vision and head into the trenches to make sure that the transition through whatever change your organization is going through is a success.

Depending on the size of your company, look to invest in your people as much as possible. The organizations that are passionate about developing and building their people are the same organizations that win and come out on top.

Whether it’s incorporating team-building exercises, bringing in experts in a certain field or enhancing skill sets in different ways, the opportunities are endless for you to invest in your people. This will not only help you and your organization lead successfully through change, but you will also be showing your people how much you care about developing them to become better.

4. Persist until you succeed.

No one enjoys change, and that especially goes for employees. They will be tempted to give up, slow down and lose focus of the overall objective and purpose. It’s your job as a leader to instill a culture of persistence.

It’s really hard to see the end result and even move forward when it feels as if nothing is being accomplished. Throughout the course of my athletic career as well as speaking to hundreds of majorly successful companies, I have realized that the most detailed plan and course of action can only get you so far when leading through change.

Persistence isn’t just a trait of the most successful people, it’s the backbone of the organizations that completely thrive during times of extreme change. Persisting and staying the course even when progress seems to be minimal is an absolute must when leading through change.

It’s inevitable that you will experience change at some point throughout your professional career. As a leader, business owner or entrepreneur, it’s your job to set the tone when leading your organization through change. These strategies will greatly improve your chances of getting the best out of your organization.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

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When it comes to the best teams in the world, whether on the football field or in the corporate arena, they all possess similar characteristics that make them special and different than just the average or good teams that rarely make that jump to greatness.

Here are three characteristics that all high-performing teams instill within their organizations and never lose sight of.

1. High-performing teams are unselfish.

You will never find a championship-caliber team at any level that doesn’t model unselfishness in everything that its members do. Even though the star running back wants to break all the records and the employee wants to earn the big promotions, they put the team first in everything that they do. They fully understand that when the team is better, they will grow and become better as individuals.

Amazing things begin to happen when you have a group of unselfish people that all come together for the betterment of the team. But a team that is completely unselfish is very rare these days because of the individualistic world that we live in. It’s all about glitz, glamor, status and money for most. However, the thriving teams that year after year continually dominate know that those things will eventually come to them if they perform better as a team.

2. High-performing teams operate like a strong family.

Mike Krzyzewski, in my humble opinion one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, once said, “When your organization operates like a strong family, you can’t be knocked out by one punch.”

Walk down the halls of a sports franchise such as the New England Patriots and companies such as Apple and it won’t take you long to figure out that they operate out of love in all they do. These institutions truly love their employees. The employees believe in and absolutely love the organization they work for.

Operating as a strong family and truly loving and appreciating your teammates builds a healthy and thriving culture. Even if employees and teammates don’t hang out much outside of the workplace, they understand that putting the team first and appreciating each other is an absolute must.

3. High-performing teams listen.

An underrated characteristic, but an absolutely crucial one when referring to building strong and powerful teams is the power of listening: Leadership willing to listen to employees within the organization, employees having constant communication with other team members, and listening to the marketplace and current customers on where the company can grow and become better.

Being willing to listen shows that you care. One of the more powerful things that a leader can do to create an exceptional and healthy culture is to let everyone know that there is an open line of communication and he or she is willing to listen. All high-performing teams not only communicate better than most teams, but they are willing to listen more than most teams.

There are so many different qualities and characteristics that make the top teams tick, but the above three cannot be ignored when looking to build a stronger organization and team. Just like anything worthwhile, the above characteristics are not easy and will take some time to successfully implement, but the long-term results and the culture that will be built will be well worth it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com