Wendy Hanson: Welcome everybody to the Better Manager podcast. I am delighted because today we have an interesting guest who actually reached out to me because he had heard the Better Manager podcast and he studies family. But he also studies the things that are really important to us at work. So let me introduce Dr. Dave Schramm. Known as Dr. Dave on campus and across the country, Dave Schramm has never taken a business course in his life. Well, you just wouldn't believe that. He is a family scholar at Utah State University where he studies strong couple and family relationships and translate his family findings into leadership lessons and improving work cultures. For nine years, he worked with the University of Missouri before moving the Schramm family to Utah in 2016. Dr. Dave has given over 500 presentations around the globe, including the United Nations, and recently a TED Talk in Florida which was fabulous. So you are going to have a link to that in your show notes. But I'm sure Dr. Dave will talk about it. In 2019, he launched https://lifejourneyon.com/, a digital platform to improve employee's personal and family lives, and boost productivity at work. So I love our connection Dave - between the productivity at work, and the family and what's important.
So welcome. Nice to have you on the show.
Dave Schramm: Oh, thanks so much, Wendy. I am so looking forward to our discussion. I appreciate your having me.
Wendy Hanson: Yes, so how did... first I didn't even know there was such a thing as family scholar. So that's very interesting. How did a family scholar find his way into business leadership and work culture?
Dave Schramm: Yeah, isn't that interesting? So, yeah, our field is family studies and it's not therapy. Right? Some people say, oh you are therapist. Oh, no, actually I'm an educator. So, I talk about relationships and happiness and family. But it's an interesting kind of little sideway into how, you know, management and business. What this all have to do with this? It started back in Missouri. I conducted the shortest survey I have ever done, the shortest study, Wendy. And it was only two questions, two questions. And these are the two questions. The first one is: If I die tomorrow, what I would miss the very most would be. And then fill the blank. Right? With whatever you think you would... I mean, well, you would be dead. So you won't maybe miss anything. But maybe what would you think about missing. And the second one is: To me life is all about... and then filling the blank again. And it was interesting, Wendy, as I analyzed these answers to that first one. Eighty six...
Wendy Hanson: And who did you do that survey with?
Dave Schramm: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Good question. It was kind of snowball sample. So it was really started to some friends and colleagues in Missouri and they shared it. And then it just kind of took this viral affect. And so now it's over 2000 people of all ages and all backgrounds. So it wasn't just academics. It was all ages and backgrounds. And it was great because as I analyzed, especially the answer to that first question: If I die tomorrow, what I would miss the most... 86% said something about family, children or relationships So really life is about family relationships. But it was the second question that kind of spur this interest in what was not there, and that was to me life is all about... About 45% said family relationships. About 23% said happiness. Others said it was about the journey and the choices, decisions we get to make. But less than 2% said anything related to work or money. And I thought, that's interesting. That doesn't mean that work isn't meaningful, engaging. Right? You love what you do. I love what I do. But really what it boils down to is that it's about family. Most people say it's about relationships.
So then I am driving down the freeway and I see these billboards when they say things like, Welcome to the family. Welcome home. And there is another when they all said and it was a car dealership that said, Think Family, then had the name of auto dealership. And I thought, why would they use family. This is my area. Right? Why would they use family in marketing messages. But then I thought, oh that's interesting that they are out to.... they know this, they know what means most to people. And so that's really kind of what spurred this, as I thought, hmm, you know, as humans we have three needs: the need for safety, satisfaction, and connection. And typically these needs are met in families. But now it's workplaces. These top workplaces, they are starting to figure this out if they treat employees like family. You know, like caring, kindness, gratitude; those little simple things that we hopefully learn in the family. And so that's kind of how all these got started.
Wendy Hanson: Wow. I love that. And I love those two questions; are a little bit challenging to answer because I actually led a small group and ask them those questions and got the same type of answer that you did. So it's not actually what is in their answers, what's not in their answer, you know.
Dave Schramm: Yes, yes.
Wendy Hanson: And we always hear that expression, you know, if you're at the end of your life, you are not going to look back and say, God, I wish I had worked more, you know.
Dave Schramm: Yeah.
Wendy Hanson: If you have any areas of where I would have wanted to spend my time, it's going to be around relationships. And you know from all your studies to that, we spend most of our time at work. So if we don't get these needs and this family feeling and connection at work, we're not going to be satisfied. That's really what I have learned over the years.
Dave Schramm: Yeah. It really is. I figure this journey pie.... if we divide up this our life journey into about one-third, we spend about one-third of our life, professional life, adult life, in professional life, right, working. About one-third at home in our personal life with our relationships. And about one-third - I call our pleasant life - being asleep. Basically that's what that is. Right? One-third of our life is just sleep, one-third of our life at home, and one-third of our life is at work. And I spend my third of my life at work studying how families can be happier with the other third at home. When I see this spill over, when we don't sleep well, it affects our family life. It affects our work life. If work life is not going well, we take it home. Right? So these are interrelated. So our family scholars take on.... some people say how was it [inaudible] evening? Had a business class, doctor. Right? What were you doing?. But I think these dynamics when we talk about relationships really do spill over into the workplace.
Wendy Hanson: Yes, and I love the TED Talk that you just did, that just came out. So I am so happy it's hot off the press so to speak. Is family fundamentals the secret sauce to booming business? And that I love.... you know, you went quickly over some of the highlights, but let's go very slowly through those three human needs because I love how you've studied them with families and we know from looking at culture and business. You know, one of the expressions we use at Better Manager is people leave managers, not companies.
Dave Schramm: Yeah.
Wendy Hanson: Because it's based on relationship. So the first one is safety. Talk about safety. What does that mean when you give that it's safety, satisfaction and connection? But let's look at safety first. Tell me little more about that.
Dave Schramm: Yeah, the first one is really fundamental. It says physical and emotional safety. Right? So food, clothing, shelter, some of those basic, you know, Maslow type of needs. But also this emotional safety or feel I can open up. I can be vulnerable, both at home and at work. So that's that.
Dave Schramm: At the workplace, it has to do with, you know, physical safety. Do I have a paycheck? Right? So can I provide, is this a good place where I can provide... does it have insurance? Those types of basics. But beyond that, the best places at work are able to meet that; kind of that emotional safety. There are emotional......
Wendy Hanson: Psychological safety, yeah. You are hearing that all the time now. Psychological safety. We have to provide psychological safety at work.
Dave Schramm: Would do. Yeah. Right. I just feel like someone's [inaudible] my work. I just don't trust anybody or I feel like it's stifling work environment and I just don't feel that safety. So that's fundamental. It's kind of that drive to survive combined with that psychological safety.
Wendy Hanson: Great. And the next one is satisfaction. So tell us about that from the family perspective and then the work perspective.
Dave Schramm: Yeah. You know, for I mean millennial, right, the family has been there to meet the need for safety, but also satisfaction. This is about this. This desire to do things that bring joy, pleasure, growth, even right to stretch me a little bit. And then in the workplace, it's more of this desire to acquire desire to contribute to make a meaningful contribution, to learn for professional development, but also to have fun. Right? So we fun in the family. Strong families, they have fun. We have traditions. We laugh, there's humor, and I am working that the top workplaces that I studied from Inc.com in 2019 show that the same. The same thing is happening in these workplaces. They have fun. No it's not all. You know, pool table and [00:09:34.11] lunch and all these fun stuff. But they know when to have fun, to relax, sense of humor, to joke around. So they are having fun at work as well.
Wendy Hanson: Yes. And I love you gave some great examples in your TED Talk, that people would be able to listen to, but you know, having fun at work, it doesn't mean that the ping pong table is just sitting there, we've got one. It means that managers are working together. And I have been in a number of companies where I have seen the CEO go out and play ping pong with somebody, as a way to like, you know, we are all in this together and we are connected. Give us some other examples of how do you have fun at work, because there may be some people out there. I can't imagine it, but there certainly might be like work is work, you know like. What is about having joy or fun at work?
Dave Schramm: Yeah, to me that's awful. Just go in, punch... you know you're just a number, just get in there, do your thing, and get out. Oh, man, there's companies as I studied and actually I've visited some of these company cultures. There is a great vibe.... With one company that I visited or remember that they showed me around. And then they [inaudible] lunch, get together. And then there are some who do board games over here. There are some who do puzzles together. Right? And they interact. They are not on their phones in their corner, in their cubicle. They are doing fun things. They celebrate birthdays, anniversaries. They know what's going on in their employees lives. And maybe if that's a CEO of 2000 or 200,000 people, he is not able, where he or she is not able to be aware of everything that's happening. But then as when it comes down to the managers, where it's more manageable with smaller groups, but they know them. They get to know them. They know they are celebrating fun things. They are able to even kind of laugh at themselves, you know. "Ah, we make mistakes, but hey, you know, let's roll with it, let's learn from it. So being enable to be you, they're having that sense of humor, having fun at work. Because the research shows on this, Wendy, when we are positive and happy, it turns on all of learning centers in the brain. We are more positive. Creativity, energy rises, intelligence rises. You name it. And the areas of neuroscience and happiness show the brain works best when it's happy and positive.
Wendy Hanson: And not when it's stressed you know. We share a piece of content with people that we coach about the stress curve, you know. If you don't have enough stress, you're really not going to be clear and focused. And if you have too much stress... some people think if I push my people really hard, you know, they are going to produce more. They're not. We need to find that Goldilocks place in the middle, between not enough stress and too much stress in order to be our best self.
Dave Schramm: Absolutely. Yeah, you have that stress. It is... little bit is good, kind of keeps us motivated, keeps with the challenge. And part of that satisfaction is kind of working through. There's something about this feeling of accomplishment. Dr. Martin Seligman, kind of father of Positive Psychology, has shown that that's one of these keys to happiness in this being stretched. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talked about flow, and this ability to use your gifts, your strengths, and like all this focus on the task, and then able to lose yourself almost is you are so involved in a task and something that you are doing. So I love that.
Wendy Hanson: Yes, and another piece that you mentioned about families and satisfaction was families have rituals. What are some of the things that you've learned or heard about rituals at work that have, you know, that constitutes that satisfaction piece we're talking about?
Dave Schramm: Yeah, I think part of it is starting your day in a positive way. Both at home. Right? When you start your day in a positive way, whether you're exercising or in meditation, but starting your day when you first get to work, it's the 10-5 rule of when you're within 10 feet of somebody saying "hello," greeting someone or smiling and saying "high five," and you're pounding fist, and you say, "Hey, how is your weekend. What you do?" Getting caught up. Making the time, those little times for connection - which we will talk about next step, that third need - but it starts with a smile, the positivity. And in meetings, Wendy, one of my favorite things is to start a meeting - every meeting - with a good news minute. Just one minute of good news. And it doesn't have to do with work at all. Hey, you know, all. My in-laws came this weekend, we celebrated my wife's birthday, whatever it is you celebrate, then talk about the good. So we really need to get good, talking about the good. The good things, because this negativity bias. We're five times as likely to notice and dwell on the negative for everyone, right?
Dave Schramm: We're actually born with five times as many neurons that are wired for negativity for every one that's wired for positivity and opportunity. So doing those things at work, to find out about the best part of someone's day, begin meetings with the good news minute, it just really sets the tone for happiness, positivity spillover at work.
Wendy Hanson: I love that. And whenever..... we talk to managers about this all the time about leading with the positive. When you lead with something negative, people go down and shoot, that they're just.... it's going to get hard to get them back from.... if we can raise energy levels. And I love that positivity minute. That's, that's brilliant. Yeah.
Dave Schramm: Yeah. The same thing happens in relationships. John Gottman has shown that the harsh startup if you begin in, in couple relationships.... if you begin with, "Hey, you know it's about time your home," you begin with the increased tone, right? Or if you're kind of attacking or say, "Hey, I notice you didn't get your report done on time." If we lead with that negative, it's going to put up the defenses and they are just going to maybe eye roll. And it's, it's toxic, it doesn't work.
Wendy Hanson: Exactly. Right. And people don't often hear after that. They get so in their head if you've started on this negative path, that they're not clear from then on and then, it's really going to go downhill. So we need to know that we can control that. There are so many things in business and in families that we can't control. Let's control the things we can.
Dave Schramm: Yeah, absolutely via love.
Wendy Hanson: And the third one. So we had safety, satisfaction, and connection. Talk to us about connection.
Dave Schramm: Yeah. This one of all three... this one, especially, in our area of family science and family studies, we look for what are some of the keys and this connection, this ability to have that relationship. Right. This openness. We talked about attachment. And being able to have a connection Wow. It's just opens people up to the directions and corrections I've talked about, and some of the positivity stuff that.... if that connection is not there - think about it, right? Think about it, Wendy, if... just think about, for example, some of them totally drives you nuts. Just their personality. You think of something like, oh my goodness, this person. Now, if that person came out to you, Wendy, and they said, "Oh Wendy, honey, what you need to do here is, and they try to teach you something or correct you. And if you can't stand them, oh my goodness, the moment they leave, you roll your eyes, you elbow the person next to you. "Oh my goodness, what a jerk." Because that connection is not there. And so one of the first thing, most important thing, that managers and leaders of all expertise, they need to be able to establish that connection. That's the relatability and some of that, that fun and that satisfaction relates to that when they say, okay, this person is real. Right? They're vulnerable. They're relatable. They're down to earth person. And I really like them. I really like who they are and who they stand for. So that is the basis. Having that connection is crucial.
Wendy Hanson: Yes. And often, one of the things that I see too when a manager can admit that they make mistakes that oh my god, I messed that up, that shows an authenticity and vulnerability. But what are some of the other little things that you've noticed that managers can do to build that connection with their team?
Dave Schramm: Yeah, they can do little things. Now these things don't take time. I think as simple a text of gratitude. Right? Hey, I sure appreciate your work on this. I know you and your team. You busted your cans on this, and I really appreciate it. I want you to go then and let you know that it doesn't go unnoticed. And so gratitude, kindness. Kindness and gratitude, Wendy, I think those who build connection about as fast as anything, right, especially these random acts of kindness or service. Doing those little things that are unexpected. And think, wow, I had no idea [00:17:56.19] brings me in. Diet Dr Pepper [inaudible] or whatever that is and says that's a small and simple little thing. The minute instantly someone becomes likable and they do something really kind, unexpected for them.
I know CEOs, for example, who, they keep a track of when did we hire this person? And then they'll look at the one month mark. "Oh, yeah. Let me send a text to Stacey or Steve," and say, "Hey, so great to have you on your team." You know, if you have any questions, let me know. Or I know they'll take them out to lunch, just one on one or small little group of new people, say, "Hey, are you guys," and it's not all business. "Tell me about you, guy. Tell me about your life. What you guys love to do. How can we improve the work?" So getting people's input. I love apologizing. That was a key and the same thing is in parenting. It's one of the things we tell parents. Be quick to apologize when you mess up. Let your kids know when I've done that. I know I forget and I ask my kids, they go on one on one. That's I'm so sorry. You know, I blew it as a parent. It's hard. Same thing as the boss. Say, "Hey, you know, I'm so sorry for the way I got after it. You know, my tone, that wasn't right. And I just needed to call myself out, you know? I'm sorry." So it is. It's the little things. It's the time together. It's the [inaudible] to the connection is, appreciation, letting people know that yeah you're valued.
Wendy Hanson: Yes. I have a great example of a manager. She just blew me away. She was a senior manager at a pretty big company. And the team decided they wanted to celebrate people's birthdays. And she wasn't in the office that often because she was traveling so much. So the team would have a cake and all this. And what she did was similar to the example you gave, she decided she would call each person on their birthday because she would be on the road calling, from the airport. And the response that she got, she sent me a response from somebody that she had called. And she's always like, "I'm sorry to bother you on your birthday, but I wanted to say hello and wish you Happy Birthday." They were so blown away. There's like nothing, nobody could do anything better for me than knowing that she took like three minutes, just to... wherever she was to call me and say, "Happy Birthday." And she.... but it made such an impact that that will never go away.
Wendy Hanson: Somehow we don't think of these little things that we can do that are going to really make somebody say, this is the team I want to go on. And when they get a call from another company and says, I'm going to pay you so and so more, they are going to think of that call and say, "You know, I may not be treated this well. Somebody may not value me enough to do this in another company. I think I'm going to stay. And we know that retention and money and the cost of that is really a big imperative thing to think about.
Dave Schramm: Ah Wendy, I love that. I love that example because it didn't take much time. It didn't cost anything, but it was thoughtful leadership, a thoughtful manager that says, hey, happy birthday. What that does? We often talk about culture. Culture is, you know, this big word. But in my culture stems from character. And that is the small and simple little things that go on day in and day out. That's what creates a culture. Culture is built by experience, connection here connection there, that that's what creates culture. It's the character of the people within the business.
Wendy Hanson: Yeah, and I love to think of it to, Dave, is when people go home and they are sitting at their dinner table. What are they bragging about or talking about. Even people - we often say the first day on the job and the last day on the job are your most important days. How people treat you when you come into an organization, and when you leave an organization. Those things we can have an impact on.
Dave Schramm: Yes. And I don't think we have to, you know, pause and reflect because, you know, I don't have time for that, or I'm too busy or I need to get this done, or I don't want to interrupt them. But that's the secret sauce, right? I talk about in my TEDx Talk is these little things. Right? It's the celebrations. It's being aware, it's being supportive, being aware of what's going on in their personal lives, the struggles, the successes. It doesn't just make a difference, it makes all the difference.
Wendy Hanson: It makes all the difference. Yeah. Most of these things don't cost anything. It's not that we have to give people, you know, Amazon gift cards. We have to just say, what I really appreciate about you and I love, we need to be specific. We need to say when you do this, my God, what an impact it has on the team. You know, it's past like saying, ah, a good job that doesn't that doesn't stick with me. It's like it won't, it won't last but the other will last. And that will be repeatable because I'll say I really did something that they liked, I'm going to do that again.
Dave Schramm: Absolutely. And that very literature actually stems, again, from my area that when you give specific praise and gratitude for a child who did something nicer, I [inaudible] say, honey, thanks so much for doing the laundry. The man in the kitchen looks great if that meal was incredible. Yeah, thank you so much, that was delicious. So be very specific, then people want to give more because what happens is that bad comes back quickly. Right? You give something [inaudible] you get back quickly. Good tends to come back more slowly. Right? So you keep getting good, and your head is not working, but keeping giving that praise. Bad comes back quickly and good is little bit more slowly the research shows.
Wendy Hanson: Yeah. And it's also I think, on the givers end, we have to create habits in ourselves that this is something that I wanted to. I want to make an impact. So you can't just do a one off and think you're going to change the world.
Dave Schramm: Yeah, yeah, consistency. And then some of us are just not so busy. How do you do this? So I don't think it's cheating to actually put a little reminder in your phone to say oh, remember think to thank. Right? You okay, here's these people or I need to text somebody. I have in my phone actually to check in on certain people, just to say, hey, how are things going? Right? Hey, we need to do lunch or something. But it's a little reminder because life does get busy and I think it's okay to have a little reminder.
Wendy Hanson: Yeah. Yeah. Another thing, Dave, that we run into all the time at work is helping employees to manage stress and strain. And managers have to really be empathetic about that. We all handle stress differently. So they come to work with it, sometimes from home, and then they get it at work. What are some of the ideas and solutions you have in that area?
Dave Schramm: Yeah, that's a big one. Because stress, what it does is stress turns us inward. What I mean by that is that when we get stressed out, right, use a different part of our brain. If we kind of lose access to the creativity, it turns us inward. And when I turn inward, I can't see you. I can't even see what you need or when others need. So stress does really something for us. But I think that some of the stress shows that if we can pause when I'm feeling stressed, it's simply it's some of this mindfulness, right? Being aware of it. Simply just pausing and be like, okay, yeah, I can feel my heart rate rising. And just being aware of that pause, taking a few deep breaths, honestly, is showing that okay, it can be relaxing because it says, okay, you must be relaxed because you're taking deep breaths and you don't do that when you're stressed. So one of those things is simply some relaxing, some positive, deep breaths, catching yourself when you are stressed. And then saying, ha, ha, this is interesting. This is my body, preparing me for a task, trying to see the upside of stress. Another one is being able to focus on the good because it's really hard to access your strengths and the good parts when I am feeling stressed. And that's a huge one that I think that everyone needs to go out.
Go to authentichappiness.org and to take this free strengths assessment. It will kick at your five top signature strengths. So knowing though.... in fact, I am looking over here at my other computer screen that says your top five strengths. I printed my now Wendy and I have them right here at the bottom. So I can focus on strengths and not always on the stress. And it doesn't mean that we can manage the stress. Exercise is one of the best things we can do for stress, turning outward, and it sounds counterproductive. But turning outward when you're stressed and helping someone else out, who you know or a quick little text of gratitude, doing something kind, it releases the dopamine and the feel good. And it helps dissipate some of the stress because it's that spiral of I'm, the more I think about it, then the more stressed I get. So being able to do some little mindfulness things, to exercise, to gratitude, focusing on strength. There's all kinds of things that we can do to manage your stress and then talk to somebody. Right? If I need to talk to somebody and say, man, this is just too much, right? And it's affecting me, it's affecting my family. So not bottling it all up and that causes resentment, then to a manager these expectations are here there. So being able to open up, but that [crosstalk].
Wendy Hanson: Being able to open up and have somebody safe. Like you know, the research Martin Seligman did years ago was you have a best friend at work. You know, do you have somebody that you can talk to, people would be more likely to be successful at work. And to know that you have that kind of relationship with your manager that you can share when you're stressed and not feel weak when that happens. Yeah, I think those things are so important. And one of the things that works in families - and my first career was in education. It was, catch them doing it right, you know. As a manager, walk around and look for people doing it right. And today, wow, that was great. And that could be your little cue card that you put on your desk. Let me go out and do it. Catch him doing it right.
Dave Schramm: Aha, I love it. Yeah, catch them doing great things. The same thing.
Wendy Hanson: Yeah.
Dave Schramm: Again. Same thing in family, right? Because I catch my child, they're engaged in a task they're doing so well. Man, you guys are playing so well. I noticed you guys. So it's those two words - I noticed and I appreciate. And you catch them doing good things. We need to say those phrases more often and be specific.
Wendy Hanson: Right. And be specific. Ah, well, this was fabulous. Now tell people a little bit more how they can connect with you, and a little bit about your TED Talk. And we will put the link to your TED Talk right in our show notes. But give us a little how to reach you if we have question.
Dave Schramm: Yeah, you bet. So there are couple of ways you can reach me: https://www.drdavespeaks.com/. There there is a website there, drdavespeaks.com. You can visit that. And that has my contact information, has the link, yeah, to the TEDx Talk which was just a, just a dream come true, Wendy. It's such a great experience to be able to share. You know, this idea that I was sharing about family fundamentals and implementing them in the workplace. Ask them to get a hold of me. They are life journey on this digital platform that I have been able to put together with hundreds of courses and information to help employees succeed in their personal lives, so they can flourish in their professional lives.
Wendy Hanson: Great. Well, Dr. Dave, this is the first of many conversations I hope we have, because I think we are going to stay connected. There's so much great [inaudible] between your work and the work that we are doing in companies around culture, appreciation, feeling good, making it work. We are all bringing our humans to work and they get complicated sometimes. So we need to always think of these things. So, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us.
Dave Schramm: Oh, it's been a joy, Wendy. Thanks so much for having me on. I love the stuff that you are doing.
Wendy Hanson: Great, well, here's to more down the road. All right. Thank you everybody for listening. Any questions about Better Manager, go to www.bettermanager.us and you have all the great information on Dr. Dave and looking the show notes, and you can find more. So have a most wonderful day, and go out and be grateful and appreciate somebody on your team today - whether it's a colleague, whether you're the manager or you're [inaudible] colleagues. You know, let's make work, the fun place, we wanted to be. Take care.