Making dreams into reality

It might sound like new-age mumbo jumbo, but the full-time dream coach at Miron Construction is helping employees achieve their best versions of themselves.

September may be Self-Improvement Month, but it’s not the only time of year we dream big, set goals, or plan for the future.

In January we make resolutions. On our birthdays we make a wish. And virtually every other day of the year we ask ourselves, “What if?”

Miron Construction, based in Neenah but with a strong presence in Madison and around the state, took a radical approach to helping its employees answer that question and many others.

Miron created a full-time dream coach position on its staff in 2014, after Tonya Dittman, a pre-construction specialist at Miron, read Matthew Kelly’s book The Dream Manager and shared it with Dave Voss, one of the company’s owners.

“Dave reluctantly started reading the book but admitted that after a chapter or two he couldn’t put it down,” says Eric Marcoe, Miron’s dream coach. “He said he recognized this as an opportunity to give back to the employees in a way that would be unique and could really help employees grow personally.”

After many discussions with key leaders — some in favor and some opposed — Miron decided to give the program a chance in 2014 by hiring Carrie Garczynski as the company’s first dream coach, Marcoe explains.

“I moved into the role in June 2015 and have continued to grow the program by creating acceptance for it from individuals who originally doubted the program,” Marcoe notes. “Those employees have really helped grow the number of people who participate in coaching discussions.”

The dream coach position is practically a dream job for Marcoe, who’s well suited to his role.

Prior to becoming the dream coach, Marcoe served as an organizational development consultant for a health care company, which he says afforded him countless opportunities to coach on both personal and professional topics. He’s been coaching in some capacity — sales coaching, professional development, leadership, and personal coaching — for the last 12 years.

Marcoe has a master’s degree in adult education and training from Colorado State University and he completed the iPEC Coach Training Program. This coursework, along with his coaching hours to date, allowed him to become accredited with the International Coach Federation as a professional certified coach (PCC).

“I believe coaching found me and I was both lucky and aware enough to recognize that I truly enjoy it and see the value it brings to people’s lives,” says Marcoe.

Reflecting on dreams

According to Marcoe, Miron has created an environment that encourages employees to discover and accomplish their personal dreams. Plenty of companies talk the talk when it comes to helping employees reach their goals; Miron walks it.

“Employees meet with me, the company’s full-time dream coach, during regular work hours,” explains Marcoe. “I don’t provide advice, but instead follow a true coaching philosophy, which views the individual as already having all of the answers they are looking for; they just need someone to assist in uncovering them.

“Employees simply reach out to me when they are ready to see their thoughts, ideas, and feelings in a way that they haven’t before,” Marcoe continues. “I act as a mirror, helping people to visualize and focus on their thoughts and feelings. I’ve lost count of how many times individuals have said, ‘Why couldn’t I see that before; it’s been right in front of me all along.’ People have all the answers they need within themselves, and the coaching process simply helps draw those answers to the surface.”

Among the topics Marcoe discusses with Miron employees are achieving work/life balance, building confidence, finding life purpose, eliminating financial debt worry, fostering forgiveness, relationship building, nurturing self-trust, looming retirement, being “present” at home, volunteering/service of others, becoming a published author, mentoring a child, dealing with the loss of a family member, caring for an aging family member, coaching others, finding happiness, and leadership growth.

Marcoe’s role at Miron isn’t limited to one-on-one coaching, however. He also utilizes his background in leadership development to facilitate coaching skills classes for company leaders, as well as communication skills classes for all employees. Additionally, he brings in subject matter experts on topics like retirement planning, caring for an aging parent, and parenting for company lunch and learn sessions as he uncovers employees interests.

Marcoe meets with some employees weekly, some monthly, and others as the need arises. Some meet with him just a couple times while others meet with him for years. “Employees have unlimited access to me at no cost and they can meet with me on company time as often as they want, as long as they continue to fulfill the responsibilities of their position.”

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Making connections

Miron has more than 1,200 office and field employees between its corporate office and six regional offices across Wisconsin and Iowa. Since the dream-coaching program began in 2014, more than 126 unique participants have taken advantage of the service, according to Marcoe.

In 2016, Marcoe led 350-plus coaching sessions averaging one hour each. He also engages employees he works with through emails, lunches, and passing conversations.

“I cap my day at four coaching sessions to ensure I am 100% present with each individual,” Marcoe notes. “Both the coach and the client being present is critical to the success of coaching.”

Marcoe says any company can replicate Miron’s dream coach program, but how easily depends entirely on the company culture. “The culture needs to embrace personal growth while at work, and view an employee as a whole person, not just as an employee. The culture needs to recognize the value of coaching and of being willing to be coached. Coaching only works when the client is ready to be coached.”

Currently Miron has more than 50 employees actively involved in coaching, a number it has averaged for the last 16 months. Clearly, something is working.

“Everyone’s journey toward creating the best version of themselves is unique,” notes Marcoe. “Some meet with me one time and realize they aren’t interested in a particular dream after they’ve really looked into it. Others change their dream after working with me when they realize it wasn’t their dream, but rather what someone else wanted for them. Others know exactly what they want to do or whom they want to become, and I serve as both a mirror and an accountability partner.

“The most recent group of people who have started working with me are those who know they must have a dream somewhere deep down, but don’t know what it is or how to even begin to uncover it. I ask key questions at key times. By being fully present in the conversation I pick up on trends and identify where energy exists in the conversation, and reflect that back to the employee so they can interpret what might truly exist.”

In the videos below, Mary Cummings, a project accountant, and Jason Fuhrmann, director of hard bid estimating at Miron Construction, share one of their personal dreams respectively and how the company’s dream program helped them achieve it.

“I really hope to find a colleague at another company with a similar title who I can share ideas with someday,” Marcoe says. “Coaching allows people to grow professionally and personally, which helps at work and at home. Some days are more emotionally charged than others, but every day I have the opportunity to see someone learn more about themselves. Coaching others also benefits me every day, as I grow not only as a coach but also as an individual. It’s amazing how much the individuals I work with teach me and help me to see things differently.

“The ability of a person to become present in the moment is the key to reaching one’s dream,” continues Marcoe. “When an individual is willing to become aware of their feelings and accept who they are, as well as who they are not, that is when they can truly begin to see the opportunities available to them. When you accept (not settle for) and truly love who you are, you can see a whole new world of opportunity.

“If I could give everyone I coach two gifts, they would be: 1) The ability to become aware of what they are both thinking and feeling, and 2) The ability to answer the question, ‘How are my thoughts and feelings serving me?’ If they are serving a purpose, then let them be, but if they are not, embrace that awareness to adjust and allow them to serve you.”

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