Barry Glassman, CFP

Barry Glassman, CFP®

His vision for starting GWS was to deliver investment strategies and wealth management services typically available at the highest levels of wealth. Today, clients benefit from these sophisticated financial services targeted to meet their unique needs.

The business owners and entrepreneurs that I advise have been telling me lately that they are having trouble finding qualified part-time employees. Apparently, in some industries there are enough full-time jobs to go around these days that people can actually choose who they work for. That’s a sign that there’s some credibility behind the overall trend in positive employment reports of late.

While more jobs are great news for the economy, it could actually be mixed news to business owners since employees, who have been hunkered down since the onset of the recession, might begin looking around for other opportunities.

When your best employees leave, that’s a huge problem, especially for small businesses. And, contrary to popular opinion, you can’t solve it simply by handing out raises. Rather, if you want to not just keep your superstars, you need to look beyond their paycheck to see what really makes them tick.

One place to start is to ask them what their dreams are. At least that’s the premise of the best seller, The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. In the book, which is told via a parable, the management team at a janitorial company suffering from high turnover and low employee engagement turned its fortunes around by finding ways to listen better to their employees and help them lead the lives they want to.

As I read the book, I was struck by its simplicity and power. Not only did I begin to implement several of the practices recommended in the book in my company, such as sending out regular surveys and asking my associates what their lifetime personal goals were, I also began giving The Dream Manager to clients who own businesses, as well as business managers and owners I know.

Mark Sherwin, the general manager at the Ritz-Carlton-Tysons Corner is one such recipient. As he read the book, Mark told me he recognized many of the same good practices that were already in place at The Ritz, where several of the hotel’s 440 employees have been working for 20 years or more.

But Mark also saw new ways that he could listen and connect with each and every one of them in a way that would make them even more productive. The Dream Manager isn’t just about addressing turnover, it’s also about motivating, listening to and inspiring your employees. “I have made this book required reading for all of our managers because it’s a great tool for getting us to think about how to drive better engagement in our long-term employees,” he told me.

Michael Kosmides is someone else I gave the book to. Michael is the co-owner of two restaurants, Teatro Goldoni and Cities Restaurant and Lounge, in Washington, D.C. When I handed Michael a copy of The Dream Manager, he was then in the throes of opening his second restaurant, Cities, which was almost two years behind schedule. He was stressed out to say the least.

But reading the book was a revelation to Michael – especially when it came to how he thought about his relationship with his 160 employees. “I suddenly realized that, it’s the people on the front lines of our business who have all the answers,” Michael said, noting that he only needed to read 30 pages of the book before he, too, handed the book out to his managers. “You just have to get it out of them. Their feedback is mission critical.”

Michael and his managers then began using surveys and one-on-one meetings to ask the restaurants’ employees what the businesses could be doing better, both in terms of serving their customers, and in helping staff members live better lives. By doing so, Michael says he established a stronger connection with his staff – something he says began to impact the performance of the two restaurants almost overnight. Not only did staff suggestions bring about profitable changes in the menu, turnover just about disappeared – which is almost unheard of in the restaurant world.

“Reading the book led to a real a domino effect,” Michael told me. “The more productive the staff got, the more profitable the business became, which led to less stress in my life. That gave me the chance to think about my own dreams, goals, and accomplishments. Now I’m doing the things I want to do outside the business, like going to the gym, riding my bike for 30 miles at a time, and taking singing lessons. Now, not only do I feel better about myself, I’m more productive when I am at work. All because of The Dream Manager.”

In other words, reading this book is sure to not just help you in retaining and engaging your best employees, it’s also an opportunity to remember the reasons you started your business in the first place.

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