Meaning Management

The meaning-centered approach to management focuses on the importance of meaning and purpose at work, cultivating human resources, and enhancing employee well-being and engagement. It seeks to maintain a healthy balance between the bottom line and workplace well-being.

Good work: A meaning-centred approach

Wong, P. T. P., Ivtzan, I., & Lomas, T. (2016). Good work: A meaning-centred approach. In L. G. Oades, M. F. Steger, A. Delle Fave, & J. Passmore (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell handbook of the psychology of positivity and strengths-based approaches at work (pp. 0-0). West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

This chapter focuses on the notion of good work from a meaning-centered approach (MCA). MCA views good work at three levels: the individual, the organization, and society. At the individual level, good work means that employees are empowered through intrinsic motivation to make the optimal use of their strengths, resulting in a high level of job satisfaction and productivity. At the organizational level, a virtuous servant style of leadership (Wong, 2004) unleashes the full potential of employees and provides a positive culture (Wong, 2005). At the societal level, good organizations assume their social responsibilities to contribute to the greater good beyond the bottom line. Thus, a good organization is not only a good place to work for, but also an agent of positive social change.

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Is your organization an obstacle course or a relay team? A meaning-centered approach to creating a collaborative culture.

Wong, P. T. P. (2006). Is your organization an obstacle course or a relay team? A meaning-centered approach to creating a collaborative culture. In S. Schuman (Ed.), Creating a culture of collaboration: The International Association of Facilitators handbook (pp. 229-256). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

Have you ever tried to negotiate an obstacle course? The only thing you can expect is that there will always be something unexpected that throws you off track and thwarts you from reaching your goal. A course that would normally take no more than an hour to complete without the obstacles, would now take a few days or even longer, depending on one’s ability to navigate the course. Unfortunately, some organizations are just like that. You are so tired of dealing with the endless, unnecessary obstacles that you have little energy and time left to engage in productive work. In such an organization, there are so many “pockets” of power, and each pocket functions like a little warlord, who is more interested in power grabbing than collaboration. In contrast, some organizations are like a relay team, where everyone helps everybody else to succeed. The mantra is “How can I be of any help to you?” At the end, everyone succeeds as the team succeeds. Clearly, a relay-team organization is more efficient and productive than an obstacle-laden organization; the former represents added values, whereas the latter represents added costs. This difference is sufficient to make or break any company in today’s highly competitive world. What kind of culture fosters conflict-ridden organizations? What is the meaning-centered approach to cultural transformation? What role can group facilitators and managers play to transform a toxic self-destructive corporate culture into a healthy, collaborative one? This chapter attempts to answer these questions from the perspective of meaning and purpose.

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Spirituality and meaning at work

Wong, P. T. P. (2003). Spirituality and meaning at work. Positive Living Newsletter.

A healthy dosage of spirituality and meaning at the workplace is good for business, because it improves morale and productivity. This view is gaining currency among management consultants, human resources professionals and mainstream business schools. The movement to bring spirit and soul to business is no passing fad; it continues to grow and with no signs of abating. Clearly, something significant and enduring is stirring the corporate world.

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Creating a positive, meaningful work place: New challenges in management and leadership

Wong, P. T. P. (2002). Creating a positive, meaningful work place: New challenges in management and leadership. In B. Pattanayak, & V. Gupta (Eds.), Creating performing organizations (pp. 74-129). New Delhi, India: Sage.

This paper emphasizes the positive psychology of creating and maintaining a positive, meaningful work climate in the face of decreasing work satisfaction and increasing global competition. “Positive climate management” differs from traditional ways of motivating workers, because it attempts to address the basic human needs for personal significance and meaning from a collectivistic, holistic perspective. On the basis of the psychological and managerial literature, it is proposed that competence in “positive climate management” is just as important as competence in technological knowledge in improving productivity and enhancing work satisfaction. It is also proposed that this new perspective of organizational behaviour helps bridge cultural differences in a multicultural workforce and in an international business community. The seven dimensions of a positive work climate are identified as: (a) empowering, (b) supportive, (c) trusting, (d) open, (e) respectful, (f) unifying, and (g) professional; these seven dimensions highlight the underlying structure of a positive organizational life. The seven pathways to a meaningful work environment are identified as: (a) achievement, (b) acceptance, (c) relationship, (d) intimacy, (e) self-transcendence, and (f) religion/spirituality, and (g) fair treatment; these seven pathways highlights the positive ethos of the organization. Managers capable of meeting basic human needs for personal significance and meaning are likely to produce a happy and enthusiastic work force. The paper also discusses the relevance of  “positive climate management” (PCM) to the Indian context.

Mountain ridge