Goffee and Jones' DREAMS
Retain People by Being Authentic
When you last applied for a job, what was it that attracted you to the role? Was it simply the salary and perks, or did the company offer something more?
The paycheck is the deciding factor for some people. Others want to feel fulfilled by their roles, and to work for an organization that shares their values. So, how can you meet the needs of these more demanding candidates, so that you can attract the best people? And how can you keep them on board and engaged for the long term?
One way to do this is with DREAMS – a model for creating authentic organizations and for helping people to be their very best.
About the Model
In their 2015 book, "Why Should Anyone Work Here?," leadership experts Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones explore the issue of people feeling that they can't be "authentic" at work unless their organizations are authentic, too.
There are a number of definitions of authenticity. Put simply, it means staying true to your own values and personality. Successful, good people have self-respect, and they won't stay at organizations that don't show the same integrity – they'll simply leave.
Goffee and Jones' solution is to harness the power of DREAMS. That may sound like a rather fluffy concept, but it describes a firm and sometimes radical framework to help organizations embrace six broad qualities:
- Radical honesty.
- Extra value.
- Simple rules.
DREAMS is a useful model because it ties an age-old truth – that most of us want to do good work – to a new reality: we are demanding more from our employers. People want accountability, transparency, responsiveness, and the opportunity to grow and develop.
Goffee and Jones' research suggests that people are prioritizing personal fulfillment over loyalty to their managers or organizations, and they simply move on whenever they feel disengaged. The authors say modern workplaces should be richly satisfying and enable people to be their best selves, that is they are encouraged to make the most of their strengths to help them excel.
Applying DREAMS to Your Workplace
Follow these steps to apply DREAMS to your own team or workplace.
1. Attract and Encourage Differences
"Difference" is a newer concept than diversity, which means accepting a range of ethnicities, ages, nationalities, and so on. In DREAMS, difference refers to more subtle qualities – the perspectives, thought patterns, experience, attitudes, and assumptions that distinguish individuals.
People who "do things differently" can be valuable and highly creative members of your team. If you give them the freedom to be themselves, you will be able to tap into their unique insights, ideas and strengths.
Supporting individualism may mean getting rid of some organizational red tape. For example, sticking rigidly to fixed appraisal systems or standardized ways of working may stifle creativity or idea generation.
2. Be Radically Honest
People dislike being stonewalled about things by their bosses, or being fed information that they can't trust. In turn, managers dislike confidential information leaking out, or being kept in the dark about team problems or failures.
Adopting radical honesty – that is, proactively and openly sharing information – might seem risky and unnerving, and it can be. Get it right, though, and you can create a trusting environment with better-informed and more engaged team members. Here are some tips for doing this:
- Communicate early, simply and accurately. It's better to take the initiative and communicate what's happening than to allow rumors or untruths to spread from ill-informed sources.
- Encourage "upward" radical honesty. Encourage feedback, don't dismiss any bad or unwelcome news, and don't "shoot the messenger."
There are situations where confidentiality remains necessary. For example, organization or trade secrets, or information that is protected or controlled by law. So make sure that you only share information that does not breach any internal or external protection.
Radical honesty has dangers, too, for workplace relationships. Do not let it spill over into hurtful or damaging behavior, such as bullying.
3. Add Extra Value to People's Strengths
Adding extra value to your people's strengths means helping them to exceed their own expectations. And it means finding ways to magnify their enthusiasms, or even building jobs around them, which turns the tables on traditional expectations that people should mold themselves to their jobs.
Considering the individual so deeply means that you can pair people with roles that fit them more naturally. Here are a few other ways to add value:
- Consider ways that you can boost job-specific and interpersonal skills, and broaden your team's responsibilities. You will find strategies for doing this in our article on Job Crafting. And facilitating focused learning and development can add to your team members' skill sets.
- Be open to ideas like sabbaticals and secondments. These could help someone to add value through experiences that would be impossible in his or her usual role.
- Work across the board. Help your higher-performing team members to get even better and your less able ones to improve, for example by creating formal improvement plans.
4. Emphasize Authenticity
Goffee and Jones define authentic organizations as ones that have a strong sense of identity, a set of values that people respect, and leaders who model those values. There are a number of ways you can develop authenticity.
First, stay true to yourself. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and live by your core values. Don't try to be someone you're not: your colleagues will see through that mask.
Let your team members know what you stand for. Tell them what matters to you and what you take pride in, and demonstrate the behaviors you'd appreciate and expect in them.
Make sure that your team knows and understands your organization's mission and vision. People can be genuinely inspired by a compelling vision and a clear, worthwhile mission, especially if they share the same values and sense of purpose.
5. Make Work Meaningful
Meaningful work is partly about understanding connections. To see meaning in what they do, your team members will want to be able to connect what they do with your organization's long-term goals.
To help them find meaning in their roles, you can:
- Get to know what makes them tick, discover what their motivations and goals are, and find out what is meaningful to them. Then consider reframing tasks to deliver that meaning, and to make your team members more enthusiastic about them.
- Look outwards, and consider how the work your team does affects your customers.
- Build a sense of belonging and community. Try meeting with your team to talk through and explain connections between goals, missions, individuals, teams, departments, and the world outside.
6. Keep Rules Simple
Goffee and Jones argue that, for rules to be sensible and enabling, they should be clear, workable, fair, and widely agreed upon.
Try these strategies to simplify the rules at your workplace:
- Build trust with your team members. The more you trust them, the fewer rules you'll need.
- Explain the thinking behind rules. If your team understands why rules exist, it will be more inclined to follow them.
- Beware of mock rules – the ones that no one follows. If your team ignores rules because they're redundant or over-complicated, scrap them. If they're unclear, rewrite them.
- Review your processes and rule books to decide whether you can simplify them and cut out any unnecessary or outdated items.
Professors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones published their DREAMS model in 2015, to show organizations how to be authentic. Employees are increasingly demanding a meaningful relationship with their organizations, and that means that, if they don't identify with a company's values, they will likely either not join in the first place or walk away as soon as they can.
Goffee and Jones developed DREAMS to show organizations how to attract and retain talent. It stands for Difference, Radical honesty, Extra value, Authenticity, Meaning, and Simple rules.
In essence, it means that organizations should nurture individuality, be open and honest with staff, and build on people's strengths. The model also shows that people want to work for organizations that have a strong sense of identity and that strive to stay true to their values. And people also want work that has meaning for them, and sensible, straightforward workplace rules.
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