Today we welcome Tracy L. Dumas, PhD to Unleashed. Tracy is an associate professor of management and human resources at the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, where she teaches MBA courses on negotiations and managing teams. She earned her PhD in management and organizations from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and has taught and conducted research in the area of organizational behaviour for over fifteen years.

Dumas’ research examines how employees’ nonwork roles and identities shape their work experiences. Her research is published in leading academic journals, and she has also written articles for Harvard Business Review. Additionally, several media outlets have profiled her work including, The Economist: Which MBA? site, Fast Company, the Bloomberg Business BNA Workforce Report, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, and the HBR Women at Work podcast.



Episode Highlights:

  • Boundaries between work and non-work, and how that impacts people and organizations, is the focus of Tracy’s work. The pandemic has not only blurred these boundaries very rapidly but has reinforced much of the research done before the pandemic.
  • Most skills developed outside of work – community, family, volunteerism, etc. – have benefits in the workplace.
  • The boundaries between work and non-work are very individual. There is a spectrum between integrators and those who segment, and one is not better than the other. Further, people make integrate one aspect of their lives, while segmenting other parts.
  • The extent to which an employee will be open about their outside-of-work roles has a lot to do with the safety they feel in sharing. Leaders need to constantly work to create an environment of psychological safety.
  • The research confirms that detachment from work tasks, doing something completely different, can improve work effectiveness when returning to those tasks.
  • Employees sometimes must manage up by sharing their outside-of-work needs with their managers and coming with suggested solutions for better balance. If the trust doesn’t exist for that conversation, employees should look for peers, other leaders, other departments (like HR) and research to support their proposals.
  • Work-life balance is a bigger issue for women than men, according to the research.
  • Minorities tend to hesitate in sharing information at work for fear of discrimination.

Actions You Can Take Right Now:

  • Frame people’s non-work roles and activities as an opportunity, not a threat to productivity.
  • Be flexible and considerate of people’s non-work responsibilities. Clarify and negotiate essential deliverables for employee roles.
  • Establish and respect temporal and special boundaries – your own and those of others.
  • Disclose outside-work needs and challenges with your manager and work together for solutions.

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Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his day exploring what makes high performers tick and helping build a community of leaders who want to learn and grow together. Follow Jeff (Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram) for more great leadership insights.