SYMPOSIUM

Engagement is dead! Long Live Engagement!  

Applying Meaning- & Purpose-Centered Interventions to Enhance Employee Engagement and Organizational Effectiveness

 

Papers in the panel:

  • Shizuka Modica: Meaning in life of helping professionals in Hong Kong: Associations with their perceived self-competence in death work
  • Alice Ballantine Dykes, Sharon Mccormick: How Do You Solve a Problem Like ‘Engagement’? Creating the Right Conditions for Meaningful Work.
  • Gordon Medlock: The Magic of Aligning Individual and Organizational Higher Purpose:  A Case Study of Practices to Enhance Employee Engagement, Relationality, Transparency, and Accountability
  • Luis A. Marrero: Engagement: Meaning, Meaningful & Important
  • Shizuka Modica: Decoding How High Performers Make Meaning in Their Work
  • Ken Howard:  The Role of Transcendent Meaning in Entrepreneurial Organizations: Stories of Self-Guiding Startup Faith Communities and Businesses

 

Title: Meaning in life of helping professionals in Hong Kong: Associations with their perceived self-competence in death work.

Author: Shizuka Modica

Affiliation: Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, the Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

 

implications for practice: This symposium brings together consultants, coaches, empirical researchers in the domains of meaning- and purpose-centered theory and practice at work and shares case studies to demonstrate, in practice, the principles of Positive Psychology 2.0, the conditions for sustained employee engagement and well-being, and their positive impact on organizations.

implications for research: The sharing of case studies highlighting the importance of meaning and purpose to increase employee engagement and well-being will inform future research into workable theories and measures of the meaning of work.

 

Abstract

To enhance employee engagement and organizational effectiveness, the Meaning & Work Division of the International Network of Personal Meaning (INPM) presents this symposium focusing on applications of meaning- & purpose-centered theories and practices in the domain of work. Panelists present case studies of consulting and coaching interventions, management practices, and research highlighting the importance of meaning and purpose. These cases demonstrate the principles of Positive Psychology 2.0, the conditions for sustained employee engagement and well-being, and their positive impact on organizations.

Businesses have been scratching their heads about engagement for some time now.  Whilst millions of dollars are plunged into engagement surveys and ‘interventions,’ the Gallup stats have barely shifted in 16 years. Only 30% of the American workforce feel engaged in their work, and at least 30% are actively disengaged. This may be because ‘engagement’ has been seriously misappropriated to mean ‘going the extra mile,’ or ‘giving 110%’ – instead of the core concepts of psychological safety and meaningfulness.

Now, let’s imagine what organizations would look like if they really nurtured key engagement qualities at work? Given that ‘engagement theory’ was an answer to work motivation, let’s also re-imagine organizations if they created the environments where Self-Determination Theory’s autonomy, relatedness, and competence live and breathe.

How about Higher Purpose? It replaces, often wrongly, the concepts of ‘vision, mission and values’ and gets used as a stick to beat employees with, rather than a tool to inspire and engage them. Responding to an urgent need for more meaningful work, panelists explores the potential for Higher Purpose to drive bottom-up, human-centered transformation.

Then we’d have engagement. Real engagement.

 

Moderator: Luis Marrero

 


Individual Presentations

Title: How Do You Solve a Problem Like ‘Engagement’? Creating the Right Conditions for Meaningful Work.

Author: Alice Ballantine Dykes, Sharon Mccormick

Abstract

Working with over 200 multinational clients, Digiboho is developing a well-being framework that employs Ryff’s model of eudaimonic well-being. This presentation is a snapshot of where we are so far, with reference to current business trends, inspiring case studies, and proposals for future meaning- and purpose-centered work.

Clients want to know how to solve ‘the engagement problem,’ without realizing that the change needs to start elsewhere – with a commitment to developing more humanistic working environments, concentrating on the holistic well-being of all their employees.

We don’t intend to solve the perceived ‘problem of engagement’ as currently defined – especially when existing interventions are used as bolt-on efforts to get even more productivity out of employees. We believe engagement will occur naturally when the conditions are right and the culture is conducive.

Inspired by Conscious Capitalism, the Humanistic Management Movement, by Frederic Laloux and his TEAL organizations, by Gary Hamel and his consideration of Management 2.0., we aim to reframe the argument, talk more broadly about well-being at work, and consider the instrumental role of:

  1.  the alignment of organizational and individual purpose;
  2.  the development of more autonomous work environments – ‘Wirearchies’ and self-management being the main drivers of transformation; and
  3.  the development of a range of other products and interventions intended to create meaningful experiences in and at work.

 

 


Title: The Magic of Aligning Individual and Organizational Higher Purpose:  A Case Study of Practices to Enhance Employee Engagement, Relationality, Transparency, and Accountability

Author: Gordon Medlock

Abstract

This presentation analyzes a set of practices in a nonprofit educational institution to enhance a clear sense of organizational Higher Purpose and alignment of individual purposes with a common Higher Purpose. It begins with the development of a well-defined statement of Higher Purpose and how that is embodied in the leadership, management, staff, and operational practices throughout the organization. The case study analyzes the development of specific techniques for aligning individual purposes with a shared Higher Purpose, focusing on principles of purpose with which individuals resonate. Individual development planning and meaning-centered coaching practices are emphasized as central to the organizational culture. The presentation also includes a discussion of a competency model for defining capabilities and structuring development planning for engaged team members, empowering team leads, and transformational leaders. Practices for deepening relationships and systems of support are discussed, as well as open-book management practices that facilitate employee ownership of success of the organization and greater transparency and accountability at all levels.

 


Title: Engagement: Meaning, Meaningful & Important

Author: Luis  A. Marrero

Abstract

Meaningful Purpose Psychology is the scientific study of the meanings that enable people and institutions to thrive and to succeed. Its scientific name is Logoteleology, a construct of three Greek words

  • Logo (λόγος), which stands for reason, meaning or cause.
  • Thelos, (θέλω), defined as will.
  • Telos (τέλος, σκοπός)signifying end or purpose.

Meaningful Purpose Psychology or Logoteleology came to being to answer a central thesis: “Mankind, …. does not suffer from a lack of answers. Rather, it suffers despite the answers being available.”  Applied to organizations, its corollary is that organizations do not reach their full potential for lack of answers; but despite the answers being available. Thus, logoteleologists help individuals, groups, organizations, and societies discover what gets in the way, and how to overcome what is many times self-imposed obstacles.

To explain this challenge and what to do about it, this presentation will share some of logoteleology’s models and approaches to meaning awareness, meaning analysis, meaning validation, meaning re-decision, and meaning replacement (AVR Model). Moreover, participants will learn how Logoteleology defines and leverages concepts such as meaning, meaningful, important when providing its version of Organization Development services known as Second Wave Organization Development or OD 2.0.

Finally, during the questions and answers section, the presenter will avail himself to answer questions on how OD 2.0 is used within organizations.

 


Title:  Decoding How High Performers Make Meaning in Their Work

Author: Shizuka Modica

The time has come to use meaningful work as a primary indicator of the health and productivity of individuals and organizations. Shizuka analyzes high performers’ narratives regarding their work experiences and decodes how they construct meaning in their work using the Meaning-of-Work Theory for High Performance.  She also suggests how this theory may be used as a tool for organizational development and coaching to promote both individual and organizational growth.

Why is this important? Because when we find our work meaningful, we commit ourselves beyond the call of duty and are more likely to perform at our best. We also work for things bigger than ourselves – toward what is called ‘Higher Purpose’ or ‘transcendence.’ As Self-Determination Theory and well-being research have implied, the importance of intrinsically-motivated meaningful work is especially salient for any cognitive work (not just for knowledge workers) across workforce demographics and industries around the globe.

While research data indicate that meaningful work results in employees’ well-being, flourishing, and sustained high performance, organizations often rely on overly simplified constructs of corporate purpose and mission as a quick fix to motivate employees. Consequently, corporations often neglect other hard-to-see variables crucial to positive meaning-making for a short-term, financial gain and sacrifices long-term sustainable growth. To correct this situation, we must develop adequate measures of meaning in work that can be used to guide employee & organizational development and coaching practices. The commonly used strengths and values-in-action models can be useful when understood as part of a meaning-centered model.

 


Title:  The Role of Transcendent Meaning in Entrepreneurial Organizations: Stories of Self-Guiding Startup Faith Communities and Businesses

Author: Ken Howard

Abstract

Faith Leader, Organizational Transformation Consultant, and Leader Coach Ken Howard has long been fascinated with the central role that transcendent meaning plays in startup organizations across different sectors: from faith communities, to non-profit service organizations, to for-profit businesses. When organizations discern their shared, higher, change-the-world purposes, they create self-guiding, highly creative, intrinsically motivated, enduring organizational cultures that outlast their founders. In his panel presentation, Ken will describe a process of developing shared, transcendent meaning in organizations – a practice he calls Minimum Viable Belief – and will share stories that illustrate how transcendent meaning functions in successful startup and entrepreneurial organizations and in established organizations seeking to transform their organizational culture.