Sharing PEPY Methodology: The Dream Manager Program

Posted on: July 12, 2011 Posted by: Kaia Smith Comments: 0

Sharing PEPY Methodology: The Dream Manager Program

by Jacqueline Kronk

Dream manager
PEPY staff intensely pursue their goals as Vey, our Dream Manager, cheers them on!
Photo credit: Chris Lewis

One of the things we believe at PEPY is that sustainability, if taken seriously, should not only inform the way we run our programs—it should also impact how we manage our employees. It's unsustainable to buy staff satisfaction with higher and higher salaries. Money isn't the solution to everything. We need to find other ways to make sure PEPY staff are thrilled to be a part of our team, and because we work in a developing country and our mission centers around education, we think that while our staff members are achieving goals at work, they should also be fostering and furthering their dreams in other areas of their life.

Luckily, a roadmap for how to put this concept into practice already exists. Matthew Kelly wrote a book called The Dream Manager, in which he makes the business case for reducing turnover and increasing productivity by helping employees set and accomplish goals in their personal lives. He holds that when employees start reaching their personal goals and accomplishing their dreams in their own lives, they start performing better at work. They stay longer and love their jobs more. The book isn't aimed at NGOs—it's simply an approach to better business. The idea is that companies who practice the Dream Manager concept will reap the benefits of developing a committed and enthusiastic workforce.

At PEPY, where we view education as the key to change in the world and in our own lives, we have long since been committed to supporting the educational dreams of our staff members by offering all full-time staff scholarships to university and job development trainings. We decided that a "Dream Manager" approach was not only an excuse to give a staff member a very cool title, but also a way to expand our personal development approach at PEPY. We hired a staff member whose job it is, among other things, to meet with all employees on a regular basis and help them define and pursue goals in the following areas (adapted from Kelly's book):

  • INTELLECTUAL & ACADEMIC: Things I would like to learn more about—schooling or degrees I would like to complete. Examples: reading more books, earning a bachelor or master degree, learning a new language or skill.
  • PROFESSIONAL & CAREER: My ideal job at PEPY and also my long-term career goals. Examples: becoming an accountant, running my own organization, being a program manager within the next five years.
  • HEALTH & FAMILY: Concerns for myself or my family regarding health or quality of life. Examples: getting a toilet or water filter at my house for better hygiene, having a relative who is sick see a doctor, helping someone in my family go to school or find better opportunities.
  • FINANCIAL & MATERIAL: Things that are a burden, things I would like to save money in order to buy, and also creating a budget that I think I can live by comfortably. Examples: saving money to buy a moto or fix my house, making a budget to keep track of spending.
  • EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, & PSYCHOLOGICAL: Things I could do to reduce stress or feel more peaceful and happy. Examples: spending 15 minutes a day meditating, making sure I have a hobby that lets me relax or gives me energy or helps me express myself.
  • CHARACTER & LEGACY: My vision for the kind of impact I want to have on the world. Examples: starting projects in my community or country to make things better for others, becoming part of an organization I believe in, raising my children or teaching others' kids.

One tip from our own experience is to make it very clear from the start that, while the Dream Manager will often end up talking with employees about money (and it's definitely a good idea to send the person responsible for this to some financial literacy trainings), the program isn't about actually lending the organization's money. When finances come up, our approach is designed to help staff create short and long-term goals, share budgeting tools, and generate ideas for how to make a plan and stick to it. We have found that money topics can easily become the only focus, so it helps to make sure that the "Dream Manager" encourages people to spend time on each category.

It's a bit early to point to results within our own organization, but Kelly claims that he has had huge success implementing this program in various sectors of the economy. We're excited to join the experiment and try the Dream Manager program in our own small NGO environment.

Check in with us later for updates as we pursue our dreams!