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AARHUS UNIVERSITET Meaning at Work: Using Meetings in the Organization to Create Meaning for Participants 7th European Conference on Positive Psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "AARHUS UNIVERSITET Meaning at Work: Using Meetings in the Organization to Create Meaning for Participants 7th European Conference on Positive Psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 AARHUS UNIVERSITET Meaning at Work: Using Meetings in the Organization to Create Meaning for Participants 7th European Conference on Positive Psychology Amsterdam, July 1-4, 2014 Nina Tange and Ib Ravn Research Program on Organization and Learning Department of Education, Aarhus University, Campus Copenhagen and Website:

2 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET What is meaning? 2 1. Today’s program Meaning at work and in meetings Meaning-creating processes in meetings

3 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET Positive emotions. Engagement. Relationships. Meaning. Accomplishment. The meaningful life: Using you signature strengths in the service of something larger than yourself (Seligman, 2002) “We grasp the meaning of objects and events by taking them out of their apparent brute isolation and finding them to be parts of some larger whole, which explains them, that is, renders them significant” (Dewey, 1910, p. 117) 3 2. Meaning in PERMA (Seligman, 2011)

4 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET 1.You use your strengths; realize your potentials (Eagleton, 2007) 2.You make a unique contribution to work (Drucker, 1999) 3.Your organization creates value in society (Ghoshal et al., 2001) 4.You work with others to accomplish something important (Ravn, 2009) 4 3. When is work meaningful? 1. Use of strengths 3. Value creation 4. Productive community 2. Contribution

5 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET Goals are unclear: Exactly what are we supposed to accomplish (that will connect us to something larger)? Manager talks too much and it’s not relevant to me Discussions are unfocused and incoherent Meeting participants are passive, bored and alienated = A meeting often disconnects participants from any larger organizational whole or meaning Meetings often sorely lack meaning

6 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET To be involved and have a say in the organization is meaningful because it connects you to the larger whole The organizational meeting is potentially a forum for this We did an intervention study in Denmark: Three partnerships (bank, local government, state agency) (Ravn, 2013, 2014) Intervention: We trained 105 managers in meeting facilitation 6 5. Our intervention research on meetings Pre- and post-measurements (survey): Does this increase meaning and value creation, as seen by the participants?

7 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET ”Do you contribute through the meeting?” Pre: 50%, post: 66% ”At the beginning of the meeting, is it clear what the overall purpose of each agenda item is?” Pre: 12%, post: 41% Management group meeting 4 times a year, full day, 15 branch managers. Hardly any involvement We redesigned for meaning- ful participation 7 6. The bank: Some results

8 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET 1.Sit next to a (relative) stranger – and talk to her ”How does my work connect with that of my peers?” 2.Specify meeting goals “The importance of this agenda item for our work is…” 3.Anchoring the meeting goals ”What can you contribute towards the shared goal?” 8 7. Redesign: Processes that create meaning (a)

9 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET 4.Co-creation Top management present ideas-in- progress, involve middle managers, use their feedback 5.Best practice in small groups Knowledge sharing & creation. Making sure your peers see and appreciate your contribution 6.Two consultants, free of charge Helping someone with their challenge. Connects you with their work 9 8. Redesign: Processes that create meaning (b)

10 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET Identify a recent work task that you did well and which you found connected you to a larger wholeness in your life (Silent reflection, 2 minute) 1.Find a person you don’t know and tell him/her about it (5 minutes) Meaning process #5: Best practice in dyads 3.That person responds by picking out one important thing you and telling you. 4.Switch roles (12 minutes)

11 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET 1.Meeting type: Information meeting with presentation. Do inter- action before and after (other than Q and A) 2.Optimize seating, so people can see each other 3.At the start: Meet people 4.The six processes that create meaning (slides 9+10) 5.Dyad task tries on the presented material 6.Questions? Grab us in the hall, now or later 7.Individual take-aways for maximum impact: Team up in triads on your way out (unless you have to rush). Introduce yourselves. Tell each other about best your best outcome from this session Meeting techniques today

12 I Ib Ravn AARHUS UNIVERSITET Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Dutton. Drucker, P. (1999). Management challenges for the 21th century. Harper. Eagleton, T. (2007). The meaning of life. Oxford University Press. Ghoshal, S., Barlett, C. A., & Moran, P. (1999). A new manifesto for manage- ment. Sloan Management Review, 40(3): Ravn, I. (2009). Meaning in Work Life: Definition and Conceptualization. First World Congress on Positive Psychology, Philadelphia, PA, USA, June Ravn, I. (2013). A folk theory of meetings – and beyond. European Business Review, 25(2), Ravn, I. (2014). Training managers to facilitate their meetings. International Journal of Management Practice 7(1): Seligman, Martin (2002). Authentic happiness. New York: The Free Press. Seligman, Martin (2011). Flourish. New York: The Free Press Literature


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