Employers tend to forget that their employees have their own aspirations and dreams in life. Often, these people are working for us to fulfill them. However, companies do not have the environment to nurture and support them, leading to an unhappy workplace and unfulfilled employees. Brad Jeffress believes that if people are happier and more fulfilled, personally, they are going to do better at work. That is why he became a Dream Coach at IMA Financial Group. In this episode, he tells us all about what being a Dream Coach is and how it impacts your employees and your business. Brad shares his own experience of figuring out his career and working on his dreams and then provides some advice to both companies and employees on how to provide a space for the things we want to do in our lives. Tune in to this conversation and gain insights on the importance of allowing our people to fulfill their dreams. When they do, they become better for us.
We are excited to have an expert contributor, Brad Jeffress. You have a financial background. You’re also a Dream Coach. You have some great expertise in one-on-one coaching. You also provide some honest, forthright feedback and champion employees through their goals and getting through their dreams and aspects. That’s all about business. I’d like to introduce Brad. Wendy has been talking with Brad as well. Would you like to tell us what Dream Coach is and what you’re all about?
The way we formed this was around a book that I read called The Dream Manager. It’s a vehicle at our company to help our employees achieve what dreams they have, not just in business but in their personal lives with the premise that if people are happier and more fulfilled personally, they’re going to do better at work. My job is to listen, facilitate, ask questions and get people to think about and take action on the dreams that they want to achieve in life.
I find that amazing. I call it V division, which is like life vision. It’s about transforming life and career and jobs. Many of us are going through major transformation, metamorphosis, whatever you want to call it, because of what’s happening in our world. Not only businesses are going through this change but also employees and individuals. I left corporate years ago. I started my company but it’s like, “What is your dream? How are you going to focus on your dream? What are your goals? What are you going to do to transform? How do you go from A to B?” That’s a major life transformation. Is that what your focus is on?
Yes, a lot of that stuff. I tend to be a little bit of everything. Some people in our company use me as a coach and mentor. I’ve been at our company for many years. Some people want to tap into my expertise in our business. I was in sales. A lot of our salespeople use me. Other people want true coaching where they say, “I want to get better at this. I don’t even know what my goals and dreams are. Help me figure out what those are and ways to start to achieve those.” Quite honestly and especially in these last couple of years, it’s been a lot of almost counseling where people have used me to talk out loud about stuff that they haven’t been able to talk out loud to somebody else about because of all that’s going on in their life and so forth.
Your services are needy. I want to ask Wendy. You have a relationship here. What are your thoughts about the service?
For me, Brad’s story is so compelling. It’d be interesting if we even took a step back because Brad had a life-changing experience that then led you to rethink your dream job, which became the Dream Coach. It’s many layers. I’d love to hear your story because I love these transformation stories. It’s relevant to what everyone is going through and people who are at that pivot point where they’re not sure. This is how we get energized to either keep going or find something new. I love your story. Tell us, Brad.
I’ve been in the insurance industry for over 35 years. I’ve been at our company for over 34 years. I was in sales most of that time but I never loved sales. I’m an introvert by nature. Being in sales was always a little outside my comfort zone. Thankfully, I had some other attributes and skills that made me somewhat successful at it but I never loved it. I always knew I wanted to do something different. Like a lot of people, I stayed in what I did because it was comfortable. For me a bit quite honestly, I was starting to make more money and have more success. The thought of doing something different than I thought maybe I would love was starting to step back financially and all those kinds of things.
For years, I’ve gone through all kinds of different things to figure out what I wanted to do in life. Several years ago, I had a near-death experience on a raft trip. I started thinking about things differently. My faith became more important to me. At the time, I thought maybe I should put my job and go do something better for mankind.
A coach of mine told me, “Maybe your mission field is right where you’re at. You can influence and affect people right where you’re at.” I used that for motivation for a while. Years ago, I started having some health problems. I had a couple of heart procedures and thought, “I got to figure this life lane out. I don’t know how long I’m going to be here. I want to do something more that I want to do.”
Over the years, I have done a lot of different things. I picked 25 jobs I thought I’d like to do and what are the pros and cons. Nothing ever resonated. I started a different process. I sent a letter to 50 different people that I knew, friends, family, associates and clients. I asked them two questions, “What do you think my gifts are in life? What do you think I’d be good at if I didn’t do what I did now?” First of all, it’s a very humbling experience because people took a lot of time. They got back to me with some great feedback. 45 of the 50 said I should do some coaching, mentoring and stuff that had to do with dealing with people, which I felt like that’s where my heart was.Remind yourself that you've done a lot of the things you need to do to get to where you want to be. Click To Tweet
I wanted to do something to help people. When I look back at my sales career, that’s what helped me be successful in sales. It was about trying to help the client achieve what they wanted to do. I wasn’t in it necessarily for the money. It was more about how can I help them. I listened to that. At about the same time, our company, which is a forward-thinking company, had a sabbatical program.
If you’ve been there for 15 or 25 years, you get a 1-month sabbatical. I was coming up for that. We had rolled that out. I was coming up for it. I was going to take that and use that to figure out what I wanted to do in life. I took that opportunity to meet with about 70 people within our company that worked on my client’s accounts to set a game plan while I was going to be gone for a month.
In those meetings, I was honest with people and said, “I love IMA but it’s time to do something different in life. I’m not even sure I’m going to come back from the sabbatical.” As I started to open up to people, people started opening up to me about stuff going on in their lives. What I realized is everybody’s got something that we deal with, have dealt with or will deal with. I put that in the memory bank.
I went on sabbatical. On the first day, a friend of mine gave me this book called The Dream Manager. It’s a very cool story about this company that was struggling. Employees were leaving left and right. It was not a happy, good place to work. This owner thought, “I got to figure out something because I’m going to lose my company.” He hired a consulting company. They came in, interviewed all his employees and came back to him and said, “Your employees have lost hope in life. They don’t know what they’re working for and why they’re working. If they do have goals and aspirations, they don’t know how to get there.”
He hired a person called the Dream Manager that would sit with people and try to figure out what they wanted to do, the premise from a business standpoint, “If my employees are happier and fulfilled, they’re going to do better and be happier here at work.” They started to meet with him, have meetings and gain some success on their goals. All of a sudden, by the end of the book, this company was the place to work in town.
I read that book on the first day of my sabbatical. I looked at my wife and said, “This is it. I want to do something like this.” I put it all together. Not that our company had people that were struggling horribly or anything but people had stuff going on. I spent the rest of the sabbatical. I came up with a job description, why this would work at IMA, why it would benefit IMA and our people and why I should be the one. I didn’t have any coaching experience, expertise or anything. I came back from the sabbatical and presented that to my CEO. We talked about it for a few months and decided to give it a try.
Quite frankly, I thought this would be a step towards retirement. I was 58 when I did this. I thought it would be a one-year deal where I’d do it for a while and then probably retire and do something different. The job took off. My schedule was full from day one. It wasn’t because of me. It was that we allowed people to have a free space to talk out loud about something in a confidential area that they couldn’t maybe have otherwise. That was several years ago and I’ve been busy ever since.
I’m reflecting here because when I left my corporate position in 2016 and started my business, I had no idea that all this craziness was going to happen over the following years. It was interesting because, in my heart, I knew that something was going to happen that could inspire me to do my dream job. It’s very fascinating the service that you provide. It’s almost like you were ahead of your time.
I’m also thinking about how we can support employees, managers and companies to move beyond the traditional stagnant point of view about leadership and management and help employees rely on their hearts and dreams about what they want. No employee is going to be productive if they feel like the company doesn’t support their dreams and ambitions. It is my overall point.
I’ve been attempting to apply that with my small companies to say to my employees, “I’ve worked in Corporate America for many years. I do understand how employees don’t feel like they’re following their dreams, ambitions and goals and feeling very disengaged or unhappy with their career.” How can companies help you be more productive, engaged and excited about your career, ambitions and your dreams and your career? My point is a lot of companies, owners and executives are struggling with what are the steps to do that. It sounds very soft but it’s tangible of the steps that you can take. What would be the original steps that a company would take to start building that kind of culture in their organization?
Listen to the employees. The biggest thing that I’ve gained in the last few years that I’ve done this and the common theme throughout those years because different things have been hot topics is that what I hear from employees is they want to be heard, seen and valued. Our company is great. We have a great culture but we have a problem encouraging people, going by somebody’s desk and giving them a high five or a hug or something, acknowledging that they did a great job on something. What I heard from a lot of people was they didn’t feel valued. Especially if you’re in the grind of whatever job you’re doing, a lot of times, you can get lost on why you’re doing what you’re doing.
We don’t tend to explain that to people. We say, “Do this.” We don’t tell them why it’s meaningful and purposeful. People lose that meaning and purpose. That’s why this works well because they then find meaning and purpose in the job. I tell people a lot of times, “Don’t look at this as a career. Look at this as a resource providing you money to do the other things that you want to do in life outside of work, whether it’s volunteering, building a home, doing a side business or whatever it might be, something that’s allowing you to have the resources to do those kinds of things.”
Why do you think that many of us lose our dream? I met with my daughter. God bless her. She moved out and got into a little apartment in Fort Collins, Colorado. She luckily graduated from college but she needs to get a job to pay the bills. As many of us have to do, you got to get a job to pay the bills. No offense to the jobs but it gets you into, “I’m going to be a bartender for the rest of my life or a customer service representative on a call where people are so rude to me all day.”
“Where do I find my dream? How do I step out of not only paying the bills? How do I build a dream on top of paying the foundational bills?” Many of us are overwhelmed. I look at her and say, “She has to pay her rent and bills. She wants to go back, get her graduate degree and follow her dreams.” How does she have the time to do that? How do people manage all of that? It’s overwhelming. What do you recommend?
The biggest thing I recommend is to look at it in small pieces. What happens to a lot of us is we get overwhelmed. I’ve struggled with that myself. I was like, “I’m right here. I want to be here.” You look at that. One of my favorite things is a concept called Live in The Gain Instead of The Gap by Dan Sullivan. It’s that concept that we often live in that gap of, “I’m here. I want to be here.” It seems large and far away to get that that you don’t do anything. You stay put where you are. We forget about the gain that we started way back there and all the things that we did to get here. Remind yourself that you’ve done a lot of the things that you need to do to get to where you want to be. You just have to remind yourself.
The biggest thing that I’ve seen from people in the years I’ve done this is people don’t take that first step, which is the biggest thing. You don’t have to take the step to where you want to be. It’s that first step to start to take the time to dream about what you want to do or what you want to be. That’s what I did for years. I knew I wanted to do something different for a long time. I kept stacking up all these different things about books and articles to read and all this stuff that would tell me about purpose and meaning but I never took the time to do it.
We are so busy in life. We all say, “I’ll get the time this weekend.” You never get time. You have to make time. What I stress to a lot of people is to make time to think about the things you want to make happen in your life and then start to make those kinds of things happen but you have to be intentional to do it because time doesn’t fall in your lap.
Sam is also commenting on this about taking small goals. I have to personalize this because I moved a little to the right. I have a three-car garage. It’s packed full of boxes with all that crap and stuff, hoarder tendencies. I keep saying in my head, “Elephant bites.” That relates to people in their careers and the progress they make in their life. Step back and say, “I have a garage full of crap in my garage and all this stuff in my life that’s feeling like a weight on my chest to move through but if I could take small bites and move towards that overall goal and have that overarching goal to where I want to be, it makes it a bit less overwhelming.”
In my opinion, there are many of us going through major transformations. I also do some career coaching and I have people reaching out to me like, “I need to change. I’m confused. I don’t know if I should be working from home. I’m not sure that this company is the right mind frame for me. I live in Colorado. The cost of living is getting so high that I need to relocate and change my whole mindset.”
I’m not scientific here but do you not agree that a major shift is happening? I wish there were some numbers. If Sumit was here, he would tell us the numbers. There’s a major change happening with people transforming their life and their career and what they’re doing and companies, what they’re doing with their employees. Do you agree?You never get time. You have to make time. Click To Tweet
I agree. That’s the whole Great Resignation. I struggle with it and I don’t like to see it from a standpoint of all the companies not having people to take care of what needs to happen in their companies but I admire people that are taking the leap of faith like, “If I quit this job that I don’t love and start doing something I want to do, I’m going to be happier.” That’s something that I always told my kids.
I never lived it. I was making good money. I make a fraction of what I made as a salesperson but I’m a million times happier because I’m more aligned with who I am. It’s hard for most of us to make that leap. It was hard for me. If I had stayed true to myself, I would have done it years ago but I didn’t. I waited until I had a little bit of nest egg built up to then take that risk of a job shift, a salary change and those kinds of things.
It’s a major retention initiative for companies to present themselves in a different light from a retention and recruitment standpoint to say, “We are a company that’s going to support your dreams, transformation in your life and career at this point of time.” A strategy that I’ve used in my company is to say, “I know you’re going through a lot of change. I want to support you with that.” For example, my company made part-time opportunities, nice pay and support compensation with CompTeam’s help to support my employees. We say, “We want to support your dream and we are not going to be a barrier to what we develop.” What do you think, Wendy?
What this conversation brought up for me is how we even got connected to Brad. We don’t have a data point but we have a real-life person who brought this all together. That’s my best friend from the fifth grade. We’ve been coaching each other for years. There’s so much to this. One piece is she’d been with her company that she moved to IMA. The short part of the story is she was like, “This company is awesome. They even have this job called the Dream Coach.” She was excited to go work for this company.
For me, that is proof that it was a selling point for her. She jumped ship. She left a company she’d been with for 15, 18 or 20 years. That jumping ship is another piece. It’s that change and being able to feel confident to pivot after you’ve been comfortable. You got your team down, all of that. Sometimes what I feel like I’ve learned is that sometimes change for change’s sake is healthy. Even better, you identified something that you were passionate about and gave you meaning and re-energized you so much that instead of lasting one more year in your role, you lasted all those times and were able to go up until the retirement age that you already planned on.
This is such a rich story because it’s attracting people and giving people renewed energy and confidence to try something new, take that leap of faith and pivot. In my life, I lost my husband suddenly. At that moment, I was rethinking everything. “What is important now to me?” That’s why I resonated with your story, Brad. “What am I doing?” Our time is so limited. It could be gone like this, “How are we going to spend it?” I’m grateful that always in the back of my head, I thought, “I’d love to be a consultant and go down that path,” but I never had the confidence to take the leap of faith.
Life events and a global pandemic held my hand through the process. Sam helped me walk through the process. It wasn’t hard at all. It was like, “In my mind, not that long ago, this was a big deal. When it happened, it wasn’t a big deal at all. It was natural and easy.” Also, when things fall into place like that and you follow the current, then sometimes, maybe that’s also an indication that you’re flowing in the right direction. There were lots of thoughts.
Here’s one thing I want to bring up here real quick. Wendy, I want to stay on this topic being you. You’ve done something extraordinary and gone through a life shock. It was horrible. You packed your life full of lots of activities. You’re super busy at work. I know how busy you are. The thing is that you made room for your dreams. I am through that entire process. You recognize the things that you love. You dance, scuba and advanced on those pieces. Tell us how you sorted through the noise and the anxiety, the stress and the sorrow to make all that happen for yourself.
The first thing is that CompTeam honestly allowed me to become a consultant, which was my dream job. I dreamed of sitting on this porch and working. Guess what I’m doing? I’m sitting on my porch and working. I didn’t want to work for someone who judged me for not wanting to come in. I’m not saying that I don’t also want that but there are days when you want to sit on your porch and work. The pandemic combined with being able to work for CompTeam opened up all those possibilities. That would have been relevant before my husband passed but going through that grief and healing process, I needed to be able to go and cry if I needed to.
When you’re at work, you can’t do that. You can interview my grief counselor but she’ll tell you that I did my work and everyone’s on their timeframe with that. I breathe every day still but I was able to grieve and heal because of the flexibility of where I was working and the company I was working for. That’s one huge piece. The second huge piece is, Sam, you practice what you preach and model the behavior that we’re allowed to do. You plan an amazing adventure for your family every summer. You show us that it’s possible to work remotely in Iceland, Portugal or wherever you are. Char can work from Mexico. I can work from Mexico or Belize.
We are all empowered because you lead by example. That leadership is so important. The last piece which you asked me about is how did I find. Dance has always been my passion and I’ve known that. That’s clear to me but it does not pay the bills even close. It’s a hobby that maybe pays for itself. That’s more part of my retirement plan of being able to do more teaching, leading and stuff like that. I want to build that up. I plan to do that more and phase into retirement sooner, maybe.
What happened was I had an opportunity to go to my friend’s place in Belize. I hadn’t been to a beach in so long because of the pandemic. I knew I had to get there. Even if I sat on the beach and worked, I knew that I needed to do that. I found a cheap ticket, which is impossible from Durango. I went. I felt so good after those ten days. The key factor was I was outside, which I have here too. I was with people. That was important. I hadn’t been around a lot of people because of the pandemic. I was in the water. That’s important to me too.
What I realized is I miss the classroom and teaching. I wasn’t able to teach dance that much during the pandemic. It was all over Zoom. There wasn’t that human interaction that is important for dance. I was missing being in the classroom as a corporate trainer and leader. I wasn’t having any of that because of the pandemic. None of that looked like it wasn’t even close to being on the horizon. I said, “What can I do? I can become a scuba instructor.” I didn’t even know what that took. It was a lot of steps I didn’t even know about but I said, “That would mean I could be outside, be with people and teach, all those things that I love.”
That’s how I narrowed in on that. The truth is I’m not that experienced as a scuba diver, even that great of a scuba diver. I’m a lot better now because of all the training that I’ve been doing over the last few years to pursue that piece. How I tuned in was like, “What were the key elements that I was so jazzed about?” That’s finally a long answer to your question, Sam. Help people think about the common elements. Even though I do a lot of different things, there are common elements. It’s being with people, teaching and constantly learning. I’m a lifelong learner. That’s so important to me and I encourage other people.
Thanks for sharing, Wendy. That’s powerful to hear you say that. One thing that I would like to dive into and hear more of your perspective, Brad, is Wendy’s story and your story. Both Howard and I fell victim to this as well. You go to school, get that great job and then give that job your life for a long time. They use it up and give you that two weeks and so forth. The thing is that life passes fast.
There are times in our life when we need to enjoy those moments with our children, our family and our youth. I find that we need to be careful of watching that time slip away from us and take advantage of our dreams as we go through it. What I’ve found is that those pieces, goals that we set out, achievements of having that, being a dance coach or achieving your scuba degree, those little milestones bring such happiness to our lives, can fulfill us and make us even be higher performers that work. Are you seeing this as a big change that’s going on, Brad?
A lot of people are looking for those things. The thing that I have found goes back to my point about making the time to think about it. I do an exercise with people a lot of times when they first come in. As they jump right in, they want to start talking about something. Most of them have an idea of what they want to talk about but they don’t know how to start that. I ask them to go over their five Hs, their History, Heroes, Honey, Heartaches and Hopes. As we go through all those things, I get to know them.
I interject. I’m an open book. I try to show vulnerability when they show something that maybe happened in their lives. I’ll chime in that I’ve had similar things or whatever it might be. What was always interesting to me when I got hopes and dreams was that most people paused for a minute and didn’t know how to answer that. Especially if they had kids, they’d go, “I want my kids to have a better life than me.” I go, “That’s great. I love that. I’d feel the same but what about you? What do you want?”
Most people don’t take the time to think about that. What I believe is that people in the last couple of years have had more time to think about, “What is it that I want to do?” When they’re sitting at home, at a desk in the office and so forth, it’s hard to daydream a little bit but at home, you can sometimes do that a little bit more. It’s allowed people to have more time to think about what it is they want in their life. It’s a matter of starting to take small steps to get there.
It’s fantastic what you’re saying. I do feel many individuals, including myself, in the last several years. Honestly, I’ve been dealing with a little bit of loss, chaos and confusion. It’s almost like we’re taking a jump off. I think of the Titanic. I hate to say something negative but at times, you feel like you’re jumping off the bridge of the Titanic. Not that we’re committing suicide but you’re almost like jumping off into oblivion. When I was driving home from Fort Collins through Boulder and coming up through my area up here in Littleton, people were paragliding.When we remind ourselves of the times we've had the most joy, it's usually when we've stepped out of our comfort zone and done something different and courageous. Click To Tweet
Honestly, I visualize those girls and guys that have the courage to jump off the side of a cliff with the paragliding parachute. They have such bravery to float down amongst the wind, be able to glide down and not worry that they’re going to crash and burn. How do they have the bravery to do that? I do believe as a metaphor that many of us are going through that period. Many of us, including myself, are jumping off the cliff and have our little paraglide parachutes. We’re lifting it up and hopefully, it opens and we get to our little target spot.
I feel that many individuals, including myself, have stagnated. I’m so afraid to make that jump and make that leap of faith that I can land, do well and do better in my future. Also, many companies are not doing their employees justice by not giving them that culture and environment to jump off the cliff with their parachutes. How can companies do that and create that safety zone so that employees feel free to be able to jump and open up their parachutes?
It’s allowing people to have the space to think, dream and act on what they want to do that it’s not just about work. I struggled a lot in my life not feeling like I was enough. I always felt like I had to outwork or out-hustle people. If somebody was working 8 hours, I had to work 10 hours. If they work 10 hours, I had to do 12 hours. I had to do more to prove my worth. I always did a lot more because I never felt like enough. As I fell more into my alignment with who I am, I want to still do more than most because I feel like I am enough that I have the stuff to give. It’s allowing people to get that mindset.
I loved how Wendy talked about how companies don’t allow you to have a place to cry. What I’ve seen probably the biggest use of my job has been almost an internal EAP where people come in, whether they’re dealing with grief, fears or struggles on, “Here’s why I haven’t been able to do what I want to do because I have this fear of this.” I’m not qualified to be a counselor but a lot of times, it’s truly listening not to have a response but allow people to truly get off their hearts what they need to get off.
Listening to enough to know the questions to ask and get them to think deeper and differently about what they’ve been doing or why they haven’t been doing what they want to be doing. Probably the biggest key of this job is that we allow people to come into four walls and talk about something that they can’t talk to somebody else, whether it’s a personal thing.
A lot of times, it’s a business thing where somebody has a struggle going on at home or wherever. It’s hard to tell your boss that because they’re expecting you to perform to the utmost. “This is going to be a sign of weakness. If I’m up for a possible promotion or something and all of a sudden, I go in and tell my boss something, maybe that’s going to affect it but if I go tell Brad something, I can talk through it with him and then have a way to go talk to that person about it.”
I want to revisit what Char was saying as far as the paragliding situation. What does it take for a person to take that jump? There are some good nuggets in there in alignment with what you said, Brad. For instance, if you have the dream to paraglide one day and fly through the air on your own, the steps that you need to take are evident when you look at the process. The first thing is you’re not going to go to YouTube and jump unless you have a high tolerance for risk.
The best thing is to get a coach, a person that has been there, done that that can guide you through the process and show you how to train for it and use the equipment. The next is getting trust in your equipment and familiar with it, the tools that you need to be successful with, practicing with those and getting that competence up to where you have trust in yourself that you can do it. The next is when you’re getting ready to jump off the cliff, there are those elements out there that you have to be aware of.
“I can’t control some of this. I can trust in my equipment, the tools and my training but the wind is judged by Mother Earth. I can look at the weather patterns and judge that but that air current can come up and I need to be able to react to that and so forth but that’s something that I cannot control and get used to that.” There are a lot of great factors in Char’s example that showed us how to make those dreams come true.
It’s the joy and the life you feel when you do it. I stayed comfortable doing what I did for so long, even though I didn’t want to do it. Maybe dead is too strong a word but I didn’t have a lot of life. It was very stagnant. I’ve learned more in the last few years that I’ve done this job because I’ve continued to learn and push myself than if I stayed in the same thing. That goes back to my point. When we remind ourselves of the times that we’ve had the most joy, it’s usually when we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone and done something different and courageous that allowed us to get that life and joy that sometimes we’d lose when we’re in the day-to-day grind of going from thing to thing.
If we all sat down and had a lot of bottles of wine, I’d tell you. When I jumped off the leap of faith of leaving this comfortable lifestyle, you leave the comfort and then lead into a life of growth. It’s very challenging for people to move their life into a world of growth and leave a life of comfort. I’ve also seen all those articles about people when they’re on their deathbed and say the things that they regret. They regret that they’d never taken the challenge of risk-taking. Not only saying that they loved the people that they love and take care of the people that they love but also leading a life of growth and exploring.
It’s scary. My colleagues and I are all an example of this world. I’m proud of what you’re doing, Brad. I do believe that we need a dream coach. I’ve worked with 160,000 to 170,000-employee companies. Have a dream coach or some position like you were to say to your employees, “We have a dream coach and a department that handles supporting employees with what their ambitions, dreams and goals are.” Make it personalized. Even large companies, 200,000 plus were companies as small as mine, 30 or 15 size.
Employees appreciate it, particularly those that are just developing their careers, to be able to say, “We acknowledge you’re at $20 an hour, $30 an hour or $16 an hour, whatever it is. We believe in your dreams, aspirations and goals. Not only do we care about you in your current position but we’re going to help you design a career path and strategy to support your overall dreams and your entire livelihood.” For us to be able to tell employees that, support them and not just say it but show that is going to be major when it comes to retention strategy. This is a new thing for everyone.
Bradley, we have what’s called the TMA Method. I want to reference our sponsor, CompTeam and all that we do here with the show. This is a great free tool for our readers. We offer the TMA Method. Brad, you might be interested in taking this free assessment because I’ve used it with my company. I’ve done a nontraditional approach when it comes to performance management, career coaching and everything with my employees in every aspect of talent management strategy.
My company tripled its profits because of the way that we focused on positive psychology and development with our employees, also on employees’ dreams and ambitions. This tool was a way that I have done this with my company. I would love to apply those too to big companies someday. My dream is to take and transform this tool into big companies, as I did with my small company. We have free apps and applications for how we do interviews, onboarding, career development and even off-boarding or outplacement with our employees. It’s been phenomenal. This is one of our sponsors. Would you like to get a free assessment here, Brad?
Yes, it sounds great. I always love that kind of stuff.
TMA has been used in some large organizations such as Vodafone, Toshiba and so forth. Applying it as a client would be awesome to see the impact of how this happens for organizations.
Thank you so much, Brad. It’s been fantastic. I love this. Initially, when I heard about your topic, I was thinking, “What did I dream about?” Remember those dream books that we had? How do you decipher your dream? What do you think of those old dream books? I’m curious.
I had never read them. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to remember too many of my dreams. It’s funny. When I first started this job and we rolled it out to our employees, I used that as an opener when we did a big presentation to the employees. I said, “I’m sure you all wonder what this is. If anybody has any dreams that they’d like to share, I’ll decipher what that is.”
I had a dream book when I was a kid. For example, the lady that had the gun house in California, the Winchester House. I had a dream that I was walking through that house, which I’ve never been to. You walk up all the staircases and the doorways. You never know where the stairs and the doorways lead. I’ve never visited that. I realized that my mom had visited that place. My mom had talked about the orange trees and everything. I’m like, “What does that symbolize, walking up invisible staircases and invisible doors?” My mom and I had some great conversations like, “What does this mean for our future?”Every leader or manager should be a dream coach. When you lead like that and people see that you care about them, then they're going to perform for you. Click To Tweet
Dreams are one thing but also, dreams in reality as far as aspiring for what you envisioned. I do think it’s a little bit of a softer side of leadership. It’s not about gender, femininity or male masculinity. A lot of companies need to open up their hearts and minds to how they connect with their employees on an emotional level, how they talk with their employees, how they talk about dreams and ambitions and maybe more of a non-pragmatic, no offense to Howard and Sam, numbers way.
Every leader or manager should be a dream coach. When you lead like that and people see that you care about them, they’re going to perform for you. It’s going to be natural. It’s easier to have tough conversations when you need to have them and get what you need from them because they know you care about them as a person, not just as an employee or somebody that’s helping them do something. You’re helping them do what they want to do.
It’s not like you’re just a number cruncher or a productivity person where you get so many widgets out per hour. It’s important to connect with people about their dreams, ambitions and goals. It’s so fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, Wendy, for helping us connect here. It’s awesome.
I wanted to hear the five Hs again slowly. I thought that was fun. Would you share those again with us?
It’s the highlights of your History so far, your Heroes, what I’m trying to find out there is not necessarily the heroes but who do you aspire to be like? Who inspires you? Your Honey, people you love and things you love to do. When you’re in a tough situation or mood, what helps you get out of those kinds of things? Who helps you in life? Those mentors and stuff like that. Heartaches, what have you been through that’s been hard? How have you dealt with that? What’s helped you get through that? Hopes and dreams, what do you hope to achieve in your life and do?
The other thing I wanted to be sure to mention that I thought was interesting for people who are reading who maybe want to implement something like this in their company is you were adamant that this is a separation of church and state at your company. That’s another piece with HR. People don’t want to come to HR because they don’t trust you. It goes in your file and then all this stuff. This is important for us to all talk and think about.
CompTeam and TMA Method were so passionate about caring about the individual from bringing them into helping them progress, whether it’s in the company or even helping them find their dream job outside of the company that as employers and leaders, we have to care about the person and not be so tied to them being at our company. This role, to me, feels very much like that. The fact that you have that separation allows for that trust that maybe we don’t have in these traditional HR roles.
That was a key point when we set this up. Everybody I’ve met in HR is a wonderful person but people do have that perception, “If I tell that person something, it is going to go into my file. How is that going to be used?” The way we’re set up is I have a dotted line with our CEO. That’s my reporting. I’m glad you didn’t ask the question because a lot of times, people ask me the question, “Tell me some stories about what people have talked to you about.” I don’t like to do that because that starts to soften up the confidentiality piece.
I’ve been blessed that my company doesn’t ask me anything. They get enough feedback that I don’t give them any reports and there’s no way to measure what I do. You can’t put necessarily a bottom-line number to it but people see the engagement and the progress people have made. We’ve had a lot of people that have gotten promoted and created their jobs, different things like that, that have benefited the company by initially talking through things with me. We’ve seen great progress from it but it’s something that you have to keep separate because if they feel like it’s tied to HR, it’s going to be something that they’re not going to use as much as you probably like them to use it.
As an HR person, I agree. That’s right. I’m hoping HR will transform and help acknowledge this new negative of transformation.
One other final reflection is for me, another interesting piece about the story is that it’s the insurance world. I came from insurance. It was traditional and old-fashioned. I was caught off guard that they had this role at a traditional financial institution. Also, I remember looking at it online. You are expanding. You have other people. It’s not just you. That’s cool. I remember seeing that there was a part-time position and a remote position. You were showing flexibility and innovativeness in your industry as a leader. I’m curious about that.
We are an old company or industry. Probably the thing I’m most proud about in the position is that even though I am retiring, they saw the value of it to not only replace me but add additional people to do that and talk to our employees as we’ve grown, have that growth and need more people to do that.
Thank you so much, Brad. Sharing your career and your stories have been very insightful for our readers.
Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
Thank you, everyone. We hope to see you next episode. Thank you, Brad and everybody.
Brad Jeffress is a retired Dream Coach at IMA Financial Group / Nations of Coaches Board Member. He specializes in internal one-on-one coaching of employees. Brad encourages employees to see their contribution, potential, and purpose in life.
Brad also provides employees with feedback, insights, and guidance from a third-party vantage point, intending to help them navigate toward a more engaged and compelling future at work and in their personal lives.