Helping Employees Realize Their Dreams
The Search for Meaning
Authors: Hall, Douglas Tim; Feldman, Elana R.
Date: Fourth Quarter 2011
Tags: career, path, dream, meaning, downsizing
The social unrest witnessed around the world during 2011 expresses the frustration of many people whose dreams have been shattered. A dream is a possibility that a person imagines for his or her work or non-work life, which ideally should generate excitement, but for many represents an ever more distant reality. Rather than eroding people’s dreams any further through more short-term cutbacks, a better strategy would be to help individuals reclaim their lost dreams and take steps to fulfill them. As the authors’ research shows, companies that help employees pursue their dreams and find meaning in their personal and professional lives end up with a far more engaged and productive workforce, and tend to be more successful at holding on to their most talented employees and managers, generating innovation and growth in the process. For companies operating across borders, special attention must be paid to culture-specific dreams and aspirations, in order to inspire a global workforce anew.
Tools and Frameworks:
> “I Have a Dream” identifies strategies for companies to formulate career development programs, which take the whole-person perspective into account and use the dream as a window into individualized meaning.
> “Dreams Across Borders” shows how geographic location can have a major impact on the general nature of people’s career dreams.
Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Baxter, Eli Lilly, Google, Tata, IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton, Sopra, Bain & Company
Based on authors’ research showing that companies that actively support employees’ professional development not only increase job satisfaction and talent retention, but also create synergies and energies that drive growth. They also draw upon other research to show how careers – and the meaning attached to them – vary across countries. The implications for multinational corporations are that they must abandon a one-size-fits-all approach to career development, and instead pay much closer attention to what careers mean in each of the countries they operate in.
About the Authors:
Douglas T. (Tim) Hall is a professor of organizational behavior and director of the Executive Development Roundtable at the Boston University School of Management.
Elana R. Feldman is a doctoral student in the Organizational Behavior department at the Boston University School of Management.