January’s almost here, which means it’s time to revisit your company’s goals and objectives. But have you ever stopped and asked what are your team’s very own dreams?
Many entrepreneurs don’t, and honestly, making sure your employees’ dreams and your company’s mission are aligned, plays a big role in creating a thriving environment.
In our latest episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we invited Karen Grill, an amazing business and productivity coach for entrepreneurs and a certified Fix This Next adviser, to talk about dream alignment and how to support your team members’ goals and dreams while growing your business.
So if you’re ready to learn about the benefits of supporting your employees’ dreams and how to achieve it, keep on reading!
What dream alignment means for your business
Amalie: Let’s just start by talking about dream alignment. As far as the business hierarchy of needs, where does it fit in and what does it mean to you when you read that part?
Karen: This is up on the impact level. I think dream alignment is so important, but overlooked by so many businesses. Small businesses to large businesses. It actually can be a very simple step to start asking the people that you work with, who work for you, what their dreams and goals are. And I think a lot of people shy away from this topic because I think it’s money. But so often the case has nothing to do with money, it’s really talking to the people and finding out what really excites them, and then what do they need in their life to make them be able to show up a hundred percent for their job.
People often ask me, “but Karen, at a shoe store or a fast food place, how can you have a dream alignment for your employees?” Because they’re probably not going to be there forever. That’s probably not their life career. But I think it’s easy to at least talk to them about it, have that conversation and figure out where they are. Sometimes it can be a simple solution. So if you’re a store owner for a shoe store and you have an employee and you talk to them and you find out, “oh, they want to be an accountant”, maybe you have them meet with your accountant and have a 30 minute conversation with it. It can be as simple as that, that costs you no money, but it shows that you really care about the people and know you’re interested in them and invested in them, and they’re more likely then to be invested in your business.
Amalie: I think the most important thing is making sure that you as the business owner and the team understands, what is the business’ goal? And where is the business going? Because then they can figure out where they fit in.
Karen: Especially I see it with smaller businesses. They don’t really think about their mission. They just started their business and they started to get clients or customers. And when you don’t have those values and mission for your business, it is hard for the employees to understand where they fit or if they want to continue on that with you. So I do think it’s important to figure out as the business owner, what it is so that you can communicate it to all other people who work for you or with you. And so that they can say, “Oh, I am totally in alignment with that. I am so excited to work here” and then supporting them. They’re happier, so they’re more likely to have better sales or rates. It’s overall a great business strategy to really support the people who work with you.
Simple ways to find out if there is a misalignment in your company
Amalie: What have you noticed when there is a misalignment between employees, team members and the ultimate mission of the business, what does that look like?
Karen: I think a lot of business owners will see that their employees aren’t very happy to come to work. So sometimes they’re late. That’s one indication. They don’t want to work as many hours as they had in the past. So those are some small indicators, but other ones are, maybe they’re not doing their job as well, or they’re not as enthusiastic. If you start to see that go down, that’s typically an indication that something’s not quite right. And that’s definitely why you should have been proactive and had the conversation early. But if you haven’t done that, to do that now.
Janine: When you get started out, you’re pushing yourself and you’re pushing your business until you get that little bit of momentum and then you have the team and you’re pushing them. But when you have that dream alignment going on, it turns from pushing into pulling and they’re just taking it and running with it, it’s a whole different feeling.
Amalie: And understanding too, as your team members are with you over years, their priorities are going to change too, and understanding what that looks like. And one person can’t remember all these things about all these people, but then you delegate the responsibility down to your C level executives to managers. So the business owner, the CEO puts out to the C-level executives to the managers that it’s important for us to make sure that everyone is aligned, their dreams and goals are aligned with the business’s ultimate mission, goals, dreams, those kinds of things.
Karen: You are right that it does come from top. The business owner really needs to set that tone because otherwise it’s easier for the lower-mid managers to say, “Oh, this isn’t that big a deal. I don’t really need to do this.” But if you’re really affirm as the business owner saying, “this is really important, and I can explain why it’s so important for the business”, they’ll understand that they need to continue this.
I think a big mistake that I see a lot is they’ll have the one conversation and then never do anything again. So you really need to make sure that not only do you have that initial conversation, maybe set up a plan that you’re going to reconnect and talk about this again, because things do change. You need to make sure you follow through with that. You can’t just have an initial conversation. Everyone gets excited and then nothing ever happens again. And I see that a lot. They get excited and they create all these ideas and these plans, and you’re not there to support them with that. They’re like, “what was the point? You know, you’re not really caring about me. You’re not supporting me.”
Amalie: I think on every single level that we’ve talked about, it requires everyone to just be honest and be able to evaluate their own performance and behavior. So in this dream alignment, if someone feels as if they’re not aligned, you want them to be comfortable to say something like, “you know what, I’ve just been really feeling like this position I’m in is not really filling my needs, or I’m not feeling motivated anymore. Are there other opportunities for me?”, and being able to hear that and then either tell them like, “right now we can’t, but I’ll definitely keep you in mind in the future”, or “yes, we have an opportunity for you and you can apply for it” or something like that.
Crucial mistakes you need to avoid
Karen: So I work with even smaller businesses where they started as a solopreneur and then hired a couple of people like a graphic designer or a virtual assistant. And you’ll see a lot of times when you go in, they’ve had turnover virtual assistants and you know, sometimes there’s a lot of different reasons, but a lot of times it’s because they really didn’t understand what they were looking for. A lot of times they kept saying, “well, I kept giving them raises and they still didn’t stick around.” And so when you kind of go in and delve deeper, if they never had those conversations with them, a lot of times it ended up being that they wanted a different time schedule. And so I think there’s easy solutions to a lot of these things. It’s really just starting with figuring out what each person wants.
Amalie: I even think that you can apply it to contractors too, obviously there’s a limit for contractors because they’re not employees. We have contractors that we work with that one of the first questions when we bring them on or put them in our referral network is, “what can you do? What do you love to do? And what would you like to learn?” Then we can prepare ourselves to bring them on and say, “We know we’re bringing this person on. They don’t have the skill, but they are willing to learn.” It’s still important that they’re supporting you because if they have time and you bring them on for more hours, then maybe they become an employee. If you show them that sort of support through growing with them and them growing with you, then, I think that you can both be successful.
Karen: It’s true, we all have certain things that we like to do more than other things. But if you don’t ask them what they really like to do, what they’re really passionate about or what they feel like they excel at, then you won’t know for sure what types of things you should be giving them and what would really give you the best impact for the dollars that you spend. You want to have that return on investment, be the best it can be. And so I think having that conversation with contractors as well is so important.
Amalie: So if someone feels like their company’s mission is not aligned with some of their team members, what would you tell them?
Karen: I think a little research goes first. Maybe there’s a different area that they could be in the company. And then having that conversation about the transfer. In some companies it’s easy, in others it’s not. So I would do a little research first to figure out if there’s something else in this company that I could do, if not, then you’re going to have to look outside. Maybe there’s some support that they have to help you grow, leadership or something, some other skills that you might need, with understanding that you might be looking for other opportunities. I think being open is the best policy, from both sides.
Amalie: It’s similar with clients. You have some clients that are aligned with what you’re doing now, and then you have some that aren’t, and it’s probably better to just work with the clients that are ideal for you, not ones that are going to take you off the track that you’re on.
Karen: All it takes is a conversation with the people on your team, with the people in your organization to make sure that you’ve communicated your mission. So everyone knows what it is, but then also to see what their true dreams are. Especially if you want to keep those really good people, you want to retain them. You want them to do their best work, give a hundred percent and more. It doesn’t cost a lot of money just having that simple conversation. And so even if you’re working on your sales right now, if you’re hiring somebody, start adding this in, it can be just a really slow gradual process. Just adding a couple of questions. That’s not that hard. It doesn’t take time or money. That’s where I think people should start.
And that’s it for today! We hope this interview has been as helpful to you as it was to us. See you on the next episode!
To listen to the full episode click here. https://systematicexcellenceconsulting.com/podcast/
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