A Wisconsin contractor takes a personal approach to getting employees to achieve their full potential

Miron Construction’s “Dream Project” helps remove obstacles to self actualization.

August 07, 2017 |

Miron Construction's “dream coach,” Eric Marcoe, tries to present a “mirror” to employees so they can see themselves clearer to achieve their ambitions. Image: Miron Construction

Eric Marcoe is 42 years, married, two young kids, likes to canoe and hike.

Nothing out of the ordinary until you hear that for the past two years Marcoe has been Miron Construction’s “dream coach,” a position the Wisconsin-based contractor initiated in 2013 to help its employees achieve personal goals that sometimes—but not necessarily—coincide with the company’s work goals for them.

The genesis of Miron Construction’s Dream Project was in the form of a gift: Tonya Dittman, Miron’s pre-construction specialist, gave a copy of The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly to the company’s CEO and co-owner David Voss.

From that exchange emerged a program, which Miron Construction manages through its human resources department, that is unique because “it’s 100% personal,” says Marcoe.

His background included stints as a corporate trainer and coach. Prior to becoming Miron’s dream coach, he was doing organizational development for a healthcare company that involved leadership training and coaching. He has received International Coach Federation certification through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.

But Marcoe doesn’t provide answers or advice to Miron’s employees. Instead, he creates space for the individual “to think, feel, and see [him- or herself] closely in the mirror” that Marcoe sees himself as representing.

Indeed, some employees come to Marcoe not knowing what they want to do. His role is to “pick up on” themes in order to help them identify goals and the obstacles that prevent their achievement.

The company has posted several videos on YouTube of employees who have gone through the Dream Project’s self-actualization process successfully.

Mary Cummings, a project accountant, came to Marcoe with the goal of becoming a published writer. This ambition didn’t come from out of the blue, Marcoe tells BD+C, as Cummings’s her mother and sister had been published, and Cummings (who has a degree in economics) has had a long-time interest in journalism, communications, and blogging.

As Marcoe spent more time with her, Cummings “grew into an awareness of herself,” and within two months (May 2016) she had placed an article with her favorite online magazine. This process, says Marcoe, also allowed Cummings “to see her potential in other areas,” and to see her larger goal as writing the chapters of her life. Cummings says the Dream Project helped her “learn a set of skills to allow you to accomplish whatever goals you have in the future.

Marcoe’s greatest success to date, in his estimation, has been Jason Fuhrman, Miron’s director of hard-bid estimation, primarily because Furhman was a skeptic. “He didn’t believe in the Project, and two months in, I was asking myself ‘what have I gotten myself into,’ ” recalls an amused Marcoe.

Fuhrman was unconvinced that he could have a dream “with all the stuff that’s going on with my life.”

In their early sessions, Marcoe and Fuhrman focused on how Furhman could delegate more tasks to others in his department in order to free up time at work and at home to do things he enjoys, like downhill skiing with his seven-year-old daughter. 

“It’s really changed my life and has given me a more positive outlook,” says Fuhrman. He sees the whole point of the Dream Project “to give people at Miron a better life and home, and a better life in general.”

And Marcoe says that Fuhrman’s “conversion” to the process was a key to convincing more of Miron’s employees to participate. “Many employees now looking to meet with me have been encouraged by a coworker who has experienced coaching and has been inspired by the who they have become.”

Miron employs 1,200 people, and during his tenure as dream coach Marcoe has “encountered” more than 125 associates, and currently works actively with 50.

Marcoe says that he’d like to incorporate group coaching into the Dream Project. And longer term, he’s like to teach coaching courses, so that Miron’s culture “gets to the point where my role would be eliminated.”

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