28 November 2023
When’s the last time someone asked you what is your dream? If you’re losing your vision, perhaps your dream is to stabilize what’s left. Sometimes that possible. Other times, it’s not.
Dreams can take many forms. Dreaming of winning the lottery is fun. But not realistic. Regaining your independence after losing your sight is realistic. A huge inheritance from a long-lost relative. Not likely. Meaningful employment when you’re blind. Hard, but possible (and really shouldn’t be so hard).
What’s my point? Asking what is your dream has limited relevance if you’re thinking about the lottery. But if it’s something that can be reasonably achieved, everything changes. That’s why the question should be asked more often. By your caregiver. By an organization serving people who are blind. And even by an employer who recognizes the business value of hiring someone with disabilities.
What Is Your Dream (when you’re losing your vision)?
Let me offer a 2-part answer. My Thriving Levels provides a complete picture. I’ll sum up the answer many give, by identifying three goals:
Regain my independence.
Be able to do what I did before I lost my vision.
Do new things or even more than I did before losing my vision.
My How Do I Get Started With Vision Loss post delved into an important aspect of this “dream.” The bottom line is that it’s hard. But doable. How long it takes varies by individual. Just remember that it’s possible.
Regaining Your Independence Is a Realistic Dream
It is completely natural to be sad or depressed when you first begin losing your sight. Most people I have asked would rather lose a limb than their sight. This is when someone needs to ask, “What is your dream?”
Hopefully the person who is losing their sight says something like, “I want to regain my independence.” And that’s all it takes to get started. Now you can establish realistic steps to achieve that dream.
How Does The Concept Work For An Employer?
At this point, I will deviate a bit from my typical focus on people who are blind. One of my absolute most favorite business books is Matthew Kelly’s The Dream Manager (see Resources). I provided a brief overview in the Golden Rule and The Dream Manager post.
But I’ve never told you the whole story and it’s amazing. In fact, if you’ll read all of the way to the end of the post, you’ll read a story which gives me chills every time I tell it.
Do you know what turnover is? For an employer, it happens when an employee leaves your company. So what does 400% turnover mean? That means for every position in your company, you’ll have four different employees in the course of one year. The one who starts the year plus three others who will have left by the end of the year.
Do I need to tell you that’s a problem? The Dream Manager is a true story of a janitorial company with 400% turnover. 1600 employees per year just to stay at full staffing.
What Is The Cost Of 400% Turnover?
They figured the turnover was costing them $40,000 per week. If you’re counting, that’s over $2 Million per year. I’m not even sure that’s the full cost. Did they consider training costs, lower output as they got ready to leave, lost customers because of inadequate service, and more?
So, what did they do? There was a decision to conduct a survey to find out why they were leaving. Before you read on, pause and think about what their answers might be. I’m willing to bet many of you will guess wrong.
They didn’t have reliable transportation. Cars were old and unreliable. They relied on public transportation which can be spotty if you’re leaving or going to work between second and third shift (i.e. around midnight).
Start a shuttle service. Once it was established, the shuttle service cost $20,000 per month. And, one year later, turnover was down to 200%. That’s still horrendous. But they had reduced their losses by $800,000. That’s an impressive turnaround but what does it have to do with a dream manager?
What is your dream might lead to a similarly contemplative look from this young woman.
Might someone have asked this woman, “What is your dream?” That’s unknowable but it seems clear that she’s dreaming of something. Maybe it’s how to resolve a challenging situation but, just maybe, she’s thinking about her future and what she hopes will happen.
The Janitorial Company Leadership Now Asked, “What Is Your Dream?”
It was another year and another survey. This time, the question asked was, “What is your dream?” Sadly but not surprisingly, some leaders said janitors don’t have dreams. This is a common fallacy which I highlighted towards the end of this Just Ask post (see Crip Camp). The specifics will vary but we all have dreams.
Let me once again ask you to consider how they might have answered before reading on.
The dreams were surprisingly realistic. And achievable with the right support. Three main themes arose:
Obtain reliable transportation.
Get a college degree.
Learn to speak English.
These are not pipe dreams. They are achievable dreams (much like regaining your independence after vision loss). So the janitorial company hired someone they called a “Dream Manager.” The person had dual skills in strategic and financial planning.
Achieving My Dreams Just Might Help You Achieve Your Dreams
On a voluntary basis, the employees could meet with the Dream Manager once a month. First, they developed a personal strategic plan to achieve their goals. Then, the monthly meetings switched to a status update and course correction, as necessary. The employer was investing in their employees while also teaching them business skills.
The results were amazing. Over a total of four years, turnover went from 400% to 17% annually. The company grew from 400 to 600 people. Astoundingly, the gross total cleaning supplies used dropped. That’s right. They grew by 50% and yet were using less supples than they had with 400 employees. The difference was that the employees were as invested in the employer’s success as their employer was in theirs.
What a difference a Dream Manager makes! The janitors even began bringing in new customers, although there was no direct reward.
Might This Be The Employer’s Answer To What Is Your Dream?
I suspect the statistics in the previous section would address the employer’s dream outcome. They were even able to eliminate their recruiting budget. Why? They eventually decided to help their employees move along after roughly four years. They recognized that no one really dreams of being a janitor. Creating a path to realize your dreams over a four-year stretch suddenly made them an employer of choice. Even for college students.
The cost of this program was $300-350,000 for a shuttle and a Dream Manager salary. The rewards were literally millions of dollars by virtually eliminating the turnovers, growing the customer base, reducing the waste, and so much more.
So What Keeps Giving Me Chills?
About three years into the program, the Dream Manager had a first-time visitor. He welcomed the employee while also asking why he had waited so long. The answer was that the program felt hokey. But so many of his peers seemed to love it, so he decided to give the program a try.
“What is your dream?” the Dream Manager asked. I just want a normal Christmas for my family. What does that look like? A gift for each of my children and a nice roast. How much do you figure that will cost? Perhaps $150. Well, you have ten weeks left. Can you save $15 per week? Yes.
They met routinely and had their final meeting the week before Christmas. The Dream Manager asked if he was all set and the employee said he had the gifts and the money was set aside for the roast.
An Advocate For Life
But the story isn’t finished. The Dream Manager had very quietly created an “Adopt a Family” program to support this employee’s family. He asked the employee to follow him down to the conference room. They opened the door to a room filled with gifts.
So you take an employee whose dream was to be able to buy each of his children a gift and have a dinner some families have routinely. He won’t be an employee for life and they don’t even want that. But he will be an advocate for life.
Source: The Blind Guide