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Helping workers meet the challenges of ongoing change : what strategies help and hinder? Butterfield, Lee Denise 2006

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HELPING WORKERS MEET THE CHALLENGES OF ONGOING CHANGE: WHAT STRATEGIES HELP AND HINDER? by LEE DENISE BUTTERFIELD B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1989 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2001 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Counselling Psychology) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA February 2006 © Lee Denise Butterfield, 2006 II ABSTRACT Taking a positive psychology approach, this research looked at a little-studied sub-set of working women and men - those who experienced changes affecting their work and self-reported as handling them well. The primary purpose was to explore what strategies they employed that helped them handle change well, what hindered doing well, and whether there were things that would have been helpful but were unavailable. There were two secondary purposes: (1) to gain insight into the nature of the changes they had faced, the impacts of those changes, whether they had always handled change well, and if not, when that changed and why; and (2) to explore whether the research interview itself had an impact on participants. This was primarily a qualitative, exploratory study that used the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) (Flanagan, 1954) to elicit helping and hindering critical incidents and wish list items; and open-ended interview questions (Cozby, 1997; Palys, 1997) to gather information about participants' experiences of change. A quantitative component was embedded in the form of a pre- and post-interview scaling question (Palys, 1997) to determine if the interview had an impact. Data from the CIT portion of the study elicited ten helping, hindering and wish list categories: (1) Personal Attitudes/Traits/Emotional Set; (2) Support from Friends and Family; (3) Internal Framework and Boundaries; (4) Taking Action; (5) Self-care; (6) Support from Professionals; (7) Management Style and Work Environment; (8) Skill/Role Competence; (9) Support from Work Colleagues; and (10) Personal Life Changes/Issues, suggesting strategies can be employed that facilitate handling Ill change well. Data from the quantitative portion resulted in a borderline large effect size, suggesting the interview had an impact on participants. Surprisingly, results from participants' stories of change and its impacts strongly paralleled results of studies in the unemployment, transition, burnout, and posttraumatic growth literature, suggesting this sample of workers was dealing with chaotic environments in many domains of their lives and even though they self-reported as doing well with the changes they were facing, there was a cost involved. Implications for workers, counsellors, vocational psychologists, career counsellors, human resource professionals, organizations, and future research and theory are discussed. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF TABLES vi LIST OF FIGURES vii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS viii CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1 1.1 Overview of Chapter One 1 1.2 Background and Purpose of the Study 1 1.3 Statement of the Problem. 3 1.4 Purpose of the Study 8 1.5 Assumptions, Definitions, and Models Used in the Current Study 10 1.6 Dissertation Overview 14 1.7 Summary of Chapter One 15 CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW 16 2.1 Overview of Chapter Two 16 2.2 Business Literature 17 2.3 Social Psychology Literature 30 2.4 Positive Psychology Literature 34 2.5 Literature on Thriving ( 36 2.6 Stress and Coping Literature 47 2.7 Burnout Literature 57 2.8 Career Counselling Literature 62 2.9 Vocational Psychology Literature 79 2.10 Other Relevant Scholarly Literature 90 2.11 Summary of Chapter Two 97 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY 99 3.1 Overview of Chapter Three 99 3.2 Overview of the Study Design 99 3.3 Rationale for the Study Design 100 3.4 The Critical Incident Technique 101 V 3.5 Quantitative Component 104 3.6 Sampling Procedure 105 3.7 Data Collection Procedures. ...109 3.8 Data Analysis Procedures 114 3.9 Credibility/Trustworthiness Checks 117 3.10 Summary of Chapter Three 127 CHAPTER IV: RESULTS 128 4.1 Overview of Chapter Four 128 4.2 Context Results 128 4.3 Critical Incident Results 162 4.4 Impact of the Interview Results 183 4.5 Summary of Chapter Four 188 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION 189 5.1 Overview of Chapter Five 189 5.2 Critical Incident Results 189 5.3 Impact of the Interviews 217 5.4 Contextual Component 219 5.5 Overall Discussion of Results 228 5.6 Limitations of the Current Study 233 5.7 Implications for Clients/Workers 236 5.8 Implications for Practice and Theory 237 5.9 Implications for Future Research 243 5.10 Conclusion 245 REFERENCES : 248 APPENDICES 298 Appendix I: Introductory Letter - Professional Associations 298 Appendix II: Introductory Letter - Professional Colleagues 300 Appendix III: Recruitment Advertisement 302 Appendix IV: Recruitment Poster 303 Appendix V: Informed Consent 304 Appendix VI: Interview Guide 307 vi LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Summary of basic demographic data... 108 Table 2: Themes from the question, "What does doing well mean to you?" 130 Table 3: Summary of Changes Experienced 136 Table 4: Impact of Changes on Participants 142 Table 5: Top 10 Positive and Negative Emotional Impacts 147 Table 6: Responses to, "Have you always handled change well?" 149 Table 7: What Changed so Now Handling Change Better? 151 Table 8: Timing/Triggers for Starting to Handle Change Well 156 Table 9: What Changed so now Handling Change Well? 159 Table 10: Critical Incident and Wish List Categories .165 vii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Depiction of Psychological Thriving 43 Figure 2: What is burnout?..... 60 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vm It is with tremendous gratitude that I thank Dr. William A. Borgen for his help throughout the Ph.D. program, his unstinting support and encouragement during every aspect of conducting this dissertation research, and his faith in me that made this whole undertaking possible. Thank you for being such a wonderful guide, mentor, and teacher. This was truly the opportunity of a lifetime. I am also grateful to have worked with Dr. Norman E. Amundson, for his insight, support, and encouragement, and for his excellent suggestions all along the way. He, too, played a large role in guiding the completion of this dissertation and making this degree possible. Thank you for this opportunity to learn from you. Appreciation also goes out to the other two members of my supervisory committee. To Dr. Marvin Westwood for his support during several aspects of this Ph.D. program, and for agreeing to be on my supervisory committee. To Dr. Cec Brown for starting me down this road many years ago by recognizing I had a Ph.D. in me, and for his help as part of my supervisory committee. Thank you both. It goes without saying that I owe a large debt of gratitude to the women and men who told their stories and shared their experiences - thank you all! I am grateful to so many others - colleagues, friends and family for their help and support in making this dissertation a reality. Most of all, I want to thank my mother, Doril Butterfield, for all she contributed over the years to make this dream come true; for believing in me without hesitation; for picking me up when I stumbled; and for being my guiding light. There are no words to express how much it has all meant to me. 1 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1.1 Overview of Chapter One This chapter provides background information about the issues and observations that gave rise to the current study, discusses the purpose of the study, and situates the project within the career counselling and vocational psychology literature. It also presents the problem to be studied and provides a brief introduction to the assumptions and models used. It concludes with an overview of this dissertation and a summary of Chapter One. 1.2 Background and Purpose of the Study For the last 25 years I have worked as a human resource (HR) practitioner in a number of professional and management positions in both the private and public sectors in British Columbia. During that time, I have observed first-hand (and been personally affected by) the increasing frequency and scope of change affecting people's work and its impact on individual workers. Particularly in the last 10 years, as workers in British Columbia have faced a barrage of corporate downsizings, reorganizations, new products and technology, deregulation, globalization, increased competition, mergers, acquisitions, privatization, revised corporate values and objectives, not to mention personal, societal, familial, and governmental changes, I both watched the toll it took on the women and men trying to work productively in the midst of continual change, and struggled with it myself. In my most recent role as Manager, Employee Wellness for a large Crown Corporation, I watched the 2 absenteeism rates, Workers' Compensation Board claims, and Occupational Health and Return to Work case loads soar as a broad range of working people broke down under the weight of constantly shifting expectations and increased workloads. This trend is not new - I can track it back to the early- and mid-1990's when, as Manager, Employee Benefits for many years in a mid-size private sector organization, I worked with our insurance companies to determine how best to handle the increasing numbers of short-term and long-term disability claims that were stress-related or due to psychosocial causes instead of the more traditional claims that arose from physical diseases and illnesses. A review of the literature confirms this was an emerging issue a decade ago (e.g., Lonkevich, 1996; Shafer & Graham, 1995). It appears that then, as now, despite Employee Assistance (EAP), stress, and change management programs, HR professionals were unable to help those otherwise highly functioning workers deal with the onslaught of change affecting their work. Researchers are apparently in agreement that the majority of workers are struggling in the face of change and there is a large cost associated with this in terms of increasing disability rates and decreasing productivity for workers and companies (e.g., Cropanzano, Rupp, & Byrne, 2003; Curren, 2001; Lansisalmi, Peiro, & Kivimaki, 2000; Park, 1998; Price, 2005; Pritchett & Associates Inc., 1991; Sharratt, 2005). This is underscored by the vast literature on stress and coping, much of it related to work, which will be discussed in Chapter Two. However, I and other HR professionals observed that there were always a few individuals in any work setting who appeared to be doing well despite the challenges and changes they faced that affected their work. These observations are consistent with 3 anecdotal accounts in the thriving and resilience literature of individuals who report that they are "thriving as a result of coping with stress" (Park, 1998, p. 267). Who are these people who are able to do well despite the challenges they encounter that affect their work? How are they able to continue functioning at what appears to be high levels when others around them are breaking down? What do we know about their counselling needs and the extent to which our current models of counselling, including career counselling and vocational psychology, are serving those needs? Perhaps most importantly, what can we learn from them that might be of assistance to their colleagues who are not faring as well in handling change? As discussed in detail in Chapter Two, little research in the scholarly literature has focused on this population of workers despite the importance of work in people's lives and to the Canadian economy, and the call of many researchers to take a positive psychology approach by studying what is working and healthy as well as what is not (e.g., Faller, 2001; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The primary purpose of the current research was thus to gain a better understanding of these individuals' experiences by obtaining information about what naturally occurring strategies helped and hindered their ability to handle change well. 1.3 Statement of the Problem As Savickas (2000) pointed out, existing models of career counselling were developed in a very different context than the world we live in today that assumed (1) a more stable labour market environment within which individuals operated, and (2) predictable career paths. Savickas also pointed out that those assumptions no 4 longer hold in today's world of work. Some of today's realities include frequent job changes (both voluntary and involuntary), multiple marriages, increased diversity within relationships, blended families, joint custody arrangements, increasingly demanding work environments that contribute to worker burnout, and increased geographic mobility resulting in fewer friends or family resources to assist during times of crisis and relieve the day-to-day load of responsibilities (Angerer, 2003; Defillippi & Arthur, 1994; Inkson, Heising, & Rousseau, 2001; Lemme, 1999; Richardson, 2000). Yet little is known about the experience of workers who live in this environment and face these and other changes affecting their work every day, especially those who are apparently handling these realities well. Today, both the person and the environment are undergoing constant upheavals and the normal, healthy life-cycle transitions of working people are often disrupted. Ongoing and escalating change is accepted as a given in the business literature (e.g., Bridges, 1994; Kanter, 1999b), yet only a few references to the impact of change and the resulting need for a new career counselling orientation were found in the psychology and counselling literature. Social psychology, which includes organizational culture, suggested the psychological impacts on individuals of large-scale corporate change are rarely, if ever, taken into account (Tobias, 1995). The vocational psychology literature suggested the impact of change may need to be addressed in the future but does not include it as a current focus of research (e.g., Hesketh, 2001). Some career counselling literature recognized the impact of change and called for a more developmental, self-sustaining approach to career counselling since the existing approaches appear not to be as effective as 5 , they once were (Gelatt, 1992; Krumboltz, 1998a). However, to date no research has been found that addresses how workers are able to do well and be self-sustaining in the face of turbulence at work and elsewhere. Seligman (2000) stressed the importance of focusing on what is working well in addition to what is not working in order to achieve a balanced view of the person or situation, and stated that most current counselling approaches appear to be remedial in nature rather than preventive. The career counselling and vocational psychology literature are not exceptions - much of this literature has focused on marginalized groups (e.g., at risk youth), people in transition (e.g., those entering or leaving the workforce), people in crisis (e.g., those facing long-term unemployment or unexpected job loss), and those who are not coping well as evidenced by the extensive stress and coping research (e.g., Hill, 2003; Long, 1998; Long, Kahn, & Schutz, 1992; O'Driscoll & Cooper, 1994). In other words, it has tended to focus on those who are struggling to survive, not those who are thriving. A review of the counselling and psychology literature shows this remedial approach predominates there as well, with the focus on various disadvantaged groups such as the homeless, the unemployed, at risk students, adult children of alcoholic parents, single mothers on welfare, substance abusers, physically or mentally challenged individuals, ethnic minorities, and abused women, to name but a few (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Baron, 1997; Blank, 1997; Borgen, Amundson, & McVicar, 2002; Johnson-Sligar & Sligar, 1991; Moroz, 1998; Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit - Pennsylvania State Department of Education - Harrisburg, 1996; Riverin-Simard, 1995; Rodney & Mupier, 1999; Wagner, 1994; Weich & Philip, 6 1993). A few focused on the emotional impact, particularly the emotional impact of unemployment, however interventions generally appeared to focus on skills training (e.g., how to increase self-esteem, enhance coping and job search skills, and develop daily routines), often in reaction to a particular stressor, and helping individuals become financially and emotionally self-sufficient. While this is important and necessary, one of the problems with this approach is that there are so many stressors it becomes ineffective and costly to try and develop interventions specifically aimed at each one. Another problem with this approach is highlighted in academic psychology and business journals, which suggest our current counselling approaches are no longer effective in the current work environment (Gelatt, 1992; Grzeda, 1999; Richardson, 1994; Woodd, 2000). The stress and coping literature, which is discussed in detail in Chapter Two, is also characterized as being inherently negative and reactive or remedial in nature (Cooper, Dewe, & O'Driscoll, 2001). The counselling literature talks about developmental counselling approaches, personal self-sustainability, and resilience, but to date no studies have been found that have asked workers what allows them to do well, to thrive, within the context of rapidly changing work, personal, and social environments. As previously mentioned, although some individuals appear able to deal successfully with constant change, emerging indicators suggest that many are not. These indicators include increasing levels of depression and burnout in developed economies (Dorrell, 2000; Josephson, 2004; May, 2004), rising absences from work for mental health and psychosocial reasons (Bauer, 2000; E. Beauchesne, 2005), increasing Workers' Compensation Board claims for non-physical disabilities (Workers' Compensation 7 Board of British Columbia, 2005), and declining productivity (Curren, 2001; Finlayson, 2005; Golightly, 2001; Gram, 2004). According to one estimate by the Canadian Mental Health Association, more than 30% of all disabilities in major Canadian corporations are due to depression and stress disorders, which cost Canadian businesses $33 billion a year in lost productivity (Gram, 2004). In response, organizational consultants are offering various organizational interventions to help companies and their employees deal with this increased rate of change. For example, Gowing, Kraft and Quick (1998) advocated that organizations utilize a three-pronged strategy for revitalizing their companies and increasing productivity: "Focus on the workforce (our human capital), the organizational practices and procedures for coping with the new organizational reality, the organization, the measures employed for assessing organizational effectiveness, and the outcomes (including value added to stockholders, employees, and customers)" (p. 261). However, it would appear such strategies are not having the desired effect based on the statistics just mentioned. The realm of work is considered a key part of adult life (Blustein, 2001b). It has formed one of the pillars of career counselling (Richardson, 2000; Savickas, 2000), and is the focus of several major theories of adult development (Levinson, 1978; Vaillant, 1977). It also is a main contributor to personal well-being (Kelloway & Day, 2005a; McConnell & Beitler, 1991) and a source of self-esteem and adult identity (Lemme, 1999; Sonnenberg, 1997). For many career, or the centrality of work, provides "coherence, continuity, and social meaning to their lives" (Young & Collin, 2000, p. 1). Since the world of work has changed so profoundly, and given 8 the indicators that suggest workers' mental and physical health are breaking down under these changes (Bauer, 2000; Curren, 2001; Dorrell, 2000), finding tools to help working women and men before this occurs and that help restore the psychological benefits of working is an imperative that has widespread implications for society and the individuals affected by these changes. 1.4 Purpose of the Study Researchers in the career counselling literature have advocated for some time the need for self-sustaining, developmental approaches to counselling that meet the needs of workers in today's demanding work environment (Gelatt, 1989; Krumboltz, 1998a). This echoes calls in the psychological thriving literature suggesting it is important to explore whether "naturally occurring positive changes offer insights for the development of therapeutic efforts" (Saakvitne, Tennen, & Affleck, 1998, p. 280). Researchers in both the vocational psychology and psychological thriving disciplines have called for more qualitative, descriptive studies that have greater ecological validity and more fully explore the everyday experiences of individuals (Saakvitne et al., 1998; Subich, 2001; Walsh, 2001). The current study was initiated, in part, to answer some of these calls by examining the natural skills or strategies that were being used successfully by employed individuals who were dealing well with changes affecting their work as a precursor to developing tools that might assist workers who are struggling to succeed and do well in this chaotic environment. Having such tools is important as there is general agreement that change is occurring in industrialized societies at 9 unprecedented rates (e.g., Bridges, 1994; Cooper et al., 2001) and there is every indication the pace of change will continue to increase for the foreseeable future (e.g., Herr, 1999; Krumboltz, 1998a). The primary purpose of the current study was therefore to begin investigating what self-sustaining, self-renewing strategies were being used by a subset of workers by asking the question: What helps or hinders workers who successfully navigate and thrive when faced with changes that affect their work? The current study had two additional purposes: (1) to gather background information about mainstream workers' experiences of recent changes affecting their work in order to begin piecing together knowledge about this population's subjective experience of change; and (2) to gather preliminary information on whether the research interview itself has an impact on participants. This last aim was in response to anecdotal information shared by participants at the end of interviews in previous research studies suggesting the interview had an impact on them. Toward those ends, the current qualitative and exploratory study was intended to gather some foundation information in support of the call for developing a new counselling approach that (1) reflects the radical and ongoing external upheavals workers are routinely facing, and (2) offers new tools to help otherwise highly functioning workers deal well with these changes. It was specifically geared to explore mainstream workers' changing environments and the helping and hindering factors related to individuals' experiences of change affecting their work, regardless of the sphere of life in which those changes occurred. This is in keeping with the call of many vocational psychologists for qualitative, exploratory research 10 that aids in understanding the complexity of contemporary work environments in which people are having to adapt to change on many fronts (e.g., Subich, 2001; Walsh, 2001). It also is in keeping with the call of many researchers that a developmental or preventive counselling approach be developed (Savickas, 2001a). 1.5 Assumptions, Definitions, and Models Used in the Current Study As will become clear in Chapter Two, the world of work and people's experience of work are important and complex subjects with many overlapping areas of scholarly interest. The current study drew on literature from diverse fields, such as business, HR management, vocational psychology, social psychology, career counselling, stress and coping, positive psychology, hope and learned optimism, psychological thriving, hardiness and resilience, to name but a few. Any one of these would have provided a useful way of organizing the current study and interpreting the results. However, given the importance of work in people's lives, the impact on careers of changes affecting people's work, the profoundly changed environment in which work occurs, and the mostly negative impacts these changes appeared to be having, it was decided to situate the current study within the career counselling and vocational psychology literature with the hope that the results obtained by investigating the experience of mainstream workers might inform our understanding of these disciplines and the utility of our current counselling approaches. Research from the other disciplines is drawn upon as needed. One of the base assumptions underlying the current study was that for increasing numbers of workers the environment in which work is now occurring is no 11 longer stable. There is general agreement about the accuracy of this assumption in the workplace change, vocational psychology, and career counselling literature (e.g., Borgen, 1997; Kanter, 1999a; Savickas, 2000). Recognizing that the environment in which workers live and work has fundamentally changed since many of the most influential career development and career counselling models were developed suggested it might be important to explore workers' subjective experiences of change today and how they are dealing with this new reality. In light of the wide-ranging and disparate nature of the literature that informed the current study, decisions needed to be made about which models to use and which models to discard. The purpose of the remainder of this section is to provide basic definitions for a few of the terms used throughout the current study, to make explicit two of the assumptions underlying the current study, and to introduce several of the key models that were used in this research study. Herr, Cramer and Niles (2004) point out that an agreed upon definition of career counselling does not exist. The current study therefore adopted the broad definition offered by these three researchers that stated, Career counseling is a purposeful relationship between a professional counselor and a counselee or client in which the specific processes and information used vary with the latter's needs and in which the counselor and counselee collaborate to facilitate self-clarification•, evaluation of opportunities available, decision making, planning, and action by the counselee. (p. 40) This definition does not draw a line between personal and career counselling, allowing for the interconnection with and overlap of work with other important spheres of life. Vocational psychology has likewise been defined in many ways, but for the purpose of the current study Savickas' (2001a) description was used wherein 12 he stated, "Vocational psychology is the study of vocational behavior and its development in careers, particularly emphasizing issues of occupational choice and work adjustment. The discipline focuses on the perspective of individual workers not the perspectives of the organization or occupation" (pp. 167-168). This is an inclusive definition that encompasses individuals in all stages of their work lives, not just at the point of entry into the workforce. The concept of career itself has been undergoing change in recent years, as evidenced by the recent book edited by Collin and Young, The Future of Career (2000b). Although the term "career" seems to be in flux and means different things to different people, for the purposes of the current study the conceptualization of career as articulated by Collin and Young (2000a) was adopted: "Career has to be reframed as a construct, an unfolding narrative, that gives coherence laterally across the individual's life in addition to the meaning it can give to the future" (p. 294). This is in keeping with the centrality of work to people's lives and its important role in helping to give meaning to those lives (Young & Collin, 2000). The concept of psychological thriving is integral to the current study as it forms the underpinning for the core question that gave rise to this research., It was assumed at the outset of the current study that workers who were "doing well with change" were, by definition, thriving and therefore functioning at a higher level than their counterparts who were not doing well with changes affecting their work. Thriving is often discussed in concert with resilience and hardiness, two related but different concepts. Although there is not agreement in the literature about the construct of psychological thriving (e.g., Bonanno, 2005), the current study utilized 13 the concept of thriving offered by Ickovics and Park (1998), and Carver (1998) that suggested thriving represents the attainment of a higher level of functioning than was the case before the occurrence of an adverse event. Further, the current study adopted the conceptualization of hardiness as a personality trait, comprised of the attitudes of commitment, control and challenge, that represents one way to achieve resilience (Maddi, 2002; 2005). The current study used the definition of resilience as the ability to maintain reasonably stable levels of psychological and physiological functioning following an adverse event (Bonanno, 2004). These are discussed in more detail in the next chapter. The current study was not intended to contribute to the vast stress and coping literature. However, in order to talk about challenge and psychological thriving, it became necessary to discuss its counterpart, stress and coping, and to understand some of the research on work-related stress. It was assumed at the outset of the current study that participants who self-reported as "doing well" with changes affecting their work would not be appraising the situations or changes they encountered as dangerous or threatening, but rather as challenges. For this reason and others to be discussed later, the Lazarus and Folkman (1984) model of stress, appraisal and coping was used in the current study. Similarly, the current study was not intended to contribute to the burnout literature but it became apparent that understanding this construct would assist in framing some of the results. The current study therefore drew on Maslach's work on burnout (Leiter & Maslach, 2001; Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). More details about these models, the reasons why they were chosen, and their applicability to the 14 current study are provided in Chapter Two. 1.6 Dissertation Overview Chapter One has introduced the current study, providing background information about its genesis, purpose, and rationale. It also provided definitions for some of the terms used throughout the rest of the current study. In Chapter Two, I review the relevant literature that supports the need for the current study, highlighting assumptions and gaps in the existing research. The literature review includes an introduction, and then examines the current literature covering business, social psychology, positive psychology, psychological thriving, stress and coping, burnout, career counselling, vocational psychology, and other relevant scholarly literature. It ends with a summary of the literature, highlighting the gaps and tying them in with the current study's research question. Chapter Three begins with an overview of the study design and its rationale, then describes the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) research method, sampling procedures, data collection, data analysis, and the CIT trustworthiness and credibility procedures utilized. Chapter Four presents the results of the study, first discussing the contextual results, then the CIT results, and finally the impact of the interview. Chapter Five discusses the CIT results and the support in the literature for the 10 categories, the impact of the interviews, the contextual component results, and provides an overall discussion of the results in light of today's fast-changing world. It then discusses the limitations of the study, implications for clients, practitioners, and future research and theory, and then ends with some concluding remarks. 15 1.7 Summary of Chapter One This chapter has introduced the background for the current study and how it arose from my observations as an HR manager in the workplace of the impact of change on workers during the past 10 years. The rationale for the current study is rooted in the alarming disability, workplace depression, and productivity statistics that suggest most workers are not doing well in handling change because behind these statistics are human stories of people struggling. The rationale for situating the current study within the career counselling and vocational psychology disciplines was discussed, and some of the key concepts and other disciplines that overlap into the realm of work and career were introduced. The three-fold purpose of the current study, to obtain specific information about the naturally occurring strategies workers employ that help or hinder their ability to handle change well, to gather background information about people's lived experiences of dealing with change, and to explore whether the research interview itself might have an impact on participants, was explained. I now turn to an in-depth discussion of the literature informing the current study, the gaps that exist, and how the current study hoped to address some of those gaps. r- ' \ CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW 16 2.1 Overview of Chapter Two The purpose of this chapter is to review the relevant scholarly literature. It begins with a summary of the background information from the business literature that gave rise to the current study, namely the increased rate and ongoing nature of change, soaring absenteeism rates, including the rise of absences for psychosocial reasons and its impact on both individuals and the Canadian economy, and the declining productivity being experienced by Canadian businesses. The workplace change literature addresses the reasons for and impacts of the changes faced by contemporary workers, followed by the social psychology literature that deals with organizational culture and its importance. The literature on positive psychology, thriving, stress and coping, and burnout is then reviewed, with observations about how they might inform the current study. A review of the career counselling and vocational psychology literature follows, with discussions about the underlying assumptions and gaps that gave rise to the current study. Finally, other relevant scholarly literature is examined, including the concepts of human ecology, work motivation, personal causation, transition, emotional intelligence, spirituality, boundaries, schemas, and the concept of social capital that addresses the disruptions of social networks within organizations due to restructuring, downsizing, mergers, etc. The chapter concludes with a summary of the gaps identified in the literature and how the current research question was intended to begin addressing them. 17 2.2 Business Literature 2.2.1 Absenteeism and Productivity It is generally accepted that change is occurring in developed economies at unprecedented rates and that this change, driven in part by the impact of technology and the shift to an information economy, is affecting both Canadian companies and the people they employ (Amundson & Morley, 2002; Borgen & Hiebert, 2002; Duxbury & Higgins, 2002; Frost, 2003; Grzeda, 1999; Herr, 1999; Krumboltz, 1998a, 1998b; Lee, 2001; Savickas, 1994). Workers are being asked to achieve mastery in many areas of their lives while at the same time, due to unstable work environments, their basic physiological and safety needs as described by Maslow (1970) are not necessarily being met (Cooper et al., 2001; Cooper, Dewe, & O'Driscoll, 2003). A number of indicators that are discussed below suggest many workers are not dealing well with the changes they are facing and that the current approaches to counselling may not be as effective in this new environment as they once were. What is needed is a reframing of what to expect in the new environment, what cues to look for, and a set of strategies to help individuals become self-sustaining in the face of ongoing uncertainty, instability, and change (Borgen & Hiebert, 2002). Absenteeism related to stress and psychosocial issues is on the increase in Canada. There is a direct link between the productivity of Canadian companies and innovation, with evidence suggesting improvements in both are needed in order for Canada to compete successfully in the new information-based global economy (Canadian Guidance and Counseling Foundation, 1993; Chiwialkowska, 2001; 2000; MacBride-King, 2004; Myers, 2001a). Innovation is dependent on workers who are 18 not only able to adapt but who are able to thrive in an ambiguous world that is continually altering around them. However, results from a recent survey of 114 Canadian Chief Executive Officers showed that 66% of them cited "stress, burn-out or other physical and mental health problems as the major causes of Canada's unrealized workforce productivity" (Sharratt, 2005). In some of the HR and employee benefits literature, poor management practices and lack of effective training programs are thought to be contributing to the problem (Buffett, 2004; Buffett & Young, 2004; Price, 2004, 2005; Sharratt, 2005). Based on the above information, it appears either changes in these management practices have not taken place, or they have not been effective in decreasing absenteeism and increasing productivity. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated depression, which is already the number one reason for non-physical disabilities among workers, will reach epochal levels by 2020 and become the greatest source of time lost through disability and early death in developed economies (Dorrell, 2000). It appears their forecast is becoming a reality as Canadian workers and businesses are experiencing an increase in stress-related or psychosocial absences from work as a result of both organizational factors and the fact that people are overloaded trying to juggle jobs, families, and other priorities (Bauer, 2000; "Disability management: Early intervention is crucial when dealing with employees who become disabled," 2001; "Keeping employees at work: Heading off disability before it occurs is the best cost-saving strategy," 2001). According to Dorrell, "mental health claims are the fastest growing category of disability costs in Canada today" (2000, p. 36). The result is soaring absenteeism and dwindling productivity, "particularly in areas that 19 involve decision-making and innovative thinking" (Dorrell, 2000, p. 36). Evidence exists that things have not improved in the last five years. In the year 2000, estimates suggested 33% of all absences from work were for psychosocial reasons (Bauer, 2000). Today, just five years later, Health Canada has suggested that 48% of long term disability claims in the workplace have depression as a component ("Disability management forum: Tackling depression and mental health," 2005) and that the anticipated cost to Canadian corporations is $33 billion per year in lost productivity. Much other evidence exists that confirms Canadian workers are experiencing rising absenteeism and companies are experiencing falling productivity despite Employee Assistance and other wellness programs that are intended to aid workers (Curren, 2001; "Drop in productivity puts Canadians even further behind US," 2001; Finlayson, 2005; Hewitt Associates, 2005; Josephson, 2004; Kelloway & Day, 2005a; "Labour productivity dips in Canada," 2001; Myers, 2001b). This suggests a gap exists between policy, practice, and program effectiveness, and that disruptions to organizational networks are taking their toll on workers and organizations alike. Given the previously discussed link between mental health and innovation, it seems reasonable to suggest that innovation will continue to suffer and therefore productivity will continue to decline unless this is addressed. It was anticipated the results of the current study would shed light on the experience of Canadian workers who self-reported as handling change well, and provide information on what is helping and what is hindering these workers in being able to handle change well. It was also anticipated the results of the current study would provide a foundation for 20 creating tools designed to help those individuals who are not handling change well. 2.2.2 Workplace Change Literature The reasons for change in the workplace are varied. According to Pritchett and Pound (1988), change is occurring as a result of rapid expansions, new markets, relocations, changes in corporate culture, new management teams, changes in corporate objectives, restructuring, downsizing, revamped product lines, new technologies, facility shutdowns, overhauls of systems and procedures, deregulation, changes in ownership, budget cuts, increased competition, and globalization. All this results in unstable work environments, increased turnover, rapidly changing work teams, a new psychological employment contract, and the need for workers to constantly adapt to "the winds of change" (Pritchett & Pound, 1988, p. 1). These factors and their impact are as relevant today as they were a decade ago, as chronicled by Cooper and his colleagues (2001). Golightly (2001) suggested that ongoing, major change was taking a toll on individual workers, with anxiety and self-absorption running rampant. She contends this slowly undermines team spirit, flexibility, creativity, and the willingness to take risks, all of which are "essential qualities in today's competitive corporate environment" (p. 8). Bridges (1994) made a compelling argument that constant change and ongoing upheavals in the workplace defined the current and future reality of work. He believed employment security was a thing of the past. Workers may therefore face redundancy when the work they do is no longer required or they are unable to adapt to new organizational directions. He advocated that workers develop three characteristics if they want to succeed in today's turbulent work 21 environment: employability, vendor-mindedness, and resiliency. He defined employability as ensuring individuals have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes needed by employers; he defined vendor-mindedness as the ability to think like an external vendor who has been hired to do a specific job; and resiliency as the ability to bend and not break in the face of organizational turbulence. I will return to the subject of resiliency later in this chapter. Bridges went on to say these abilities and aptitudes will provide workers with the only security that exists because they will prepare people for the work world of the foreseeable future, which he forecast would be structured around "the project, and an organization built around a changing mix of projects" (pp. 56-57). However, he did not suggest a counselling approach to help people achieve these abilities and aptitudes. Rather, he took a skills training approach, offering his transition model of endings, the neutral zone, and new beginnings (the limitations of which are discussed below) within the context of an underlying societal shift. Axmith (1997) suggested the passwords for corporate survival would be "change, flexibility, mobility, and speed." (p. 233). It seems reasonable to suggest that these same characteristics would be required of the workers upon whom companies rely to deliver products and services. Axmith foresaw that corporate restructuring would result in a continual paring down to a core group of key workers, and ongoing utilization of an increasing number of people on a short-term, interim, contractual or contingency basis. He predicted this would translate into greater change, faster turnover, and increased disruption. He described an environment of accelerating change where work and roles would continually be redefined, and 22 forecast that the work life of contingency workers would become a series of assignments with many different companies. While some would be able to adapt, he suggested this would have an unsettling effect on many people with "accompanying anxieties, difficulty focusing and concentrating, and perpetual uncertainties" (p. 235). For many people facing this change, especially those who require a great deal of external structure to meet their personal security needs, the fallout would be a drop in performance. Axmith added, "Those who do best will develop self-management skills and thrive on the change associated with the ever-present prospect of new assignments" (p. 235); yet he did not suggest ways to assist workers in achieving self-management skills or learning to thrive when faced with ongoing new assignments. Although he forecast what the future of work would look like and its impact on the individual, he did not provide a roadmap or guidelines to assist workers in doing well in this new work world. In writing about workplace change, some authors have provided a description of the process of change that occurs in an organization during a downsizing or major organizational restructuring. One such description offered a three part process organizations go through: (1) organizational structures are in flux during the reorganization; (2) individual jobs and career paths are affected by the restructuring; and (3) employees attitudes are shaped by organizational factors and cultural attitudes (Briody, Baba, & Cooper, 1995). As can be seen, such descriptions tend to take an organizational perspective, giving an overview of the process of change without necessarily providing detailed information about the individual impact these changes have on employees. 23 There is some recognition in the workplace change literature that managers' actions and the work environment play a role in worker well-being (Frost, 2003; Kelloway, Sivanathan, Francis, & Barling, 2005). In addition to the workplace stress and toxic workplace literature, recognition also comes from the organizational justice literature that suggested workers care about the decisions that are made by management, but even more important is the process used when making the decisions and whether the process is perceived as fair (Cropanzano, Goldman, & Benson, 2005; Kim & Mauborgne, 2003; Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor, 2000). Recognition of the impact the environment has on worker well-being and motivation also comes from the psychological contract literature (Rousseau, 1996, 2001, 2004). This literature suggested that how changes are framed, and the extent to which the psychological contracts determined the success or failure of change initiatives, influenced the work environment and worker well-being. A psychological contract is defined as "unwritten commitments made between workers and their employers" (Rousseau, 1996, p. 50), and it is thought that workers are motivated and productive when there is a good fit between the workers' and organization's understanding of the psychological contract. Unilateral changes by the organization to the psychological contract, especially ones that are perceived as unfair, generally result in lower productivity, higher employee turnover, and worker dissatisfaction. In their National Work-Life Conflict study, Duxbury and Higgins (2002) observed that life for Canadian workers in 2001 had changed dramatically compared to a decade earlier. They made the following observations in support of their assertion that work-life conflict had increased throughout the 1990s, 24 (1) a greater percentage of Canadian employees assumed more responsibilities (i.e. the number of working women, dual-earner and single-parent families, sandwich employees and employees who had responsibility for elder care has increased over the past decade); and (2) labour market changes during the 1990s (i.e. employers downsized, rightsized and restructured) and technological changes have increased job insecurity, elevated work demands and blurred the boundary between work and family, (p. xi) Work-life conflict has three components: (1) role overload, which is characterized by having too much to do; (2) work to family interference, which is characterized by work demands interfering with family and personal life; and (3) family to work interference, which is characterized by family demands interfering with work. Their contention that work demands have increased over time was supported by the data arising from organizational anorexia (the result of constant downsizing), corporate culture (beliefs that one's job is in jeopardy if one fails to work long hours and take work home), increased use of technology (resulting in being constantly accessible), the increased speed of change, and employees' fear they will not be seen as making meaningful contributions and the consequences of such a perception. Finally, Grzeda (1999) summarized the well-documented turbulence in organizational environments that has resulted in permanent job loss in most industries, and others have written about the impact of the "postindustrial workplace" (Murphy, 1999) and the "new organizational reality" (Gowing et al., 1998). These changes have been particularly difficult for middle and senior managers (C. Handy, 1994), forcing them to adopt new career patterns such as the post-corpocratic career (Kanter, 1989), the project-based career (Peters, 1992), the protean career (Hall, 1996; Hall & Mirvis, 1995), the boundaryless career (M. B. Arthur, Khapova, & 25 Wilderom, 2005; M. B. Arthur & Rousseau, 1996), the portfolio career (P. Stevens, 2001), the intelligent career (M. B. Arthur, Claman, & DeFillippi, 1995; Parker, 2002; Poulsen & Arthur, 2005), and career plateauing (Appelbaum & Finestone, 1994; Chay, Aryee, & Chew, 1995). The changes have also prompted the move from job-based to competency-based organizations (Lawler, 1994). In this context, while competencies reside within individuals and therefore are similar to the concept of competencies discussed in the career counselling literature, they are actually an organizational tool, articulated and introduced by companies, that identify skills in order to match people and jobs (Spencer & Spencer, 1993). They are offered as a model for eliciting superior performance; they are not a recipe for helping individuals thrive in an organization. It was thought the role of competencies in helping or hindering participants' ability to do well when faced with change might emerge from the data in the current study. Again, little appears to have been written about the psychological impacts on individuals of these sweeping changes other than having to adopt new forms of work arrangements as discussed above by Bridges (1991) and Axmith (1997), and the advent of the new work arrangements just reviewed. Some authors offer lists and explanations of the skills, tasks, and competencies to be mastered by individuals who want to succeed in these new careers (e.g., M. B. Arthur et al., 1995; P. Stevens, 2001), and others primarily take the perspective of the organization or employer (e.g., Appelbaum & Finestone, 1994; Hall & Moss, 1998). Yet little research has been done on the psychological impact on individuals resulting from this massive shift, particularly those who have been employed for a long time in a 26 single organization (Cooper et al., 2001). In addition, Cooper and his colleagues suggested that shifting to these new careers may require skills individuals do not have, thus increasing their feelings of alienation, threat, and helplessness. These researchers contended that "the exponential rate of technological change" (p. 235) is the primary driver of workplace change today and its resulting impacts upon workers, and that these changes have "outstripped efforts to develop sociotechnical perspectives that integrate human needs and values into the management of jobs and organizations" (p. 235). They argued that the stress and coping research is taking too narrow a focus on the negative and reactive aspects of workplace change and it needs to be repositioned to take a broader, more positive, and more holistic perspective. I will come back to this again later. For now, the important point seems to be that despite the extensive writing to date on the changing nature of work and careers in the 21s t century, few (if any) proactive tools or approaches have been developed to assist the working women and men who are living these changes, and little is understood about how these changes are being experienced by this population of individuals. 2.2.3 Support in the Workplace Recent literature in organizational behaviour and occupational health journals has looked at the concept of social support and its impact on workers. One article looked at the relationship of social support to burnout, job satisfaction, and productivity (Baruch-Feldman, Brondolo, Ben-Dayan, & Schwartz, 2002), finding that lack of support led to burnout, whereas the presence of support led to job satisfaction and increased productivity. Another article looked at the emergence of 27 career communities, which were defined as "self-organizing member-defined social structures through which [individuals] draw career support" (Parker, 2000, as cited in Parker, Arthur, & Inkson, 2004, p. 489). Career communities offer an innovative way for people to receive support with their careers in groups that cross organizational boundaries since many corporate environments do not provide such support. Preliminary evidence suggests that career communities "provide a basis for career support, a context for individual sensemaking, and that they facilitate both individual and community learning" (Parker et al., 2004, p. 510). A third article discussed mentor networks and career success (de Janasz, Sullivan, & Whiting, 2003), suggesting that "mentors matter" (p. 78) and are responsible for worker well-being through increased knowledge and support that can be leveraged for both career and personal success. Finally, an article was found that discussed job and employee support groups as an adjunct to employer-sponsored EAPs (Kahnweiler & Riordan, 1998). This last article actually appeared in a counselling-related journal, although the support groups being discussed were formed by and intended to support work colleagues. It discussed three types of support offered within these groups: emotional, informational, and appraisal (Niles, 1996). Such groups are often formed at the community level to help with transitions; within a single organization to assist workers with handling their multiple life roles and the impact of organizational change initiatives; and across organizations for individuals with similar personal/career interests or personal situations. What these articles have in common is an underlying belief in the importance of support for worker well-being and thus for worker productivity and business 28 viability. The importance of support for individuals has long been discussed in the counselling literature, often in terms of appraisal support during career counselling (Niles, 1996) and throughout the process of counselling (Amundson, 1996), family support in middle and old age (Goodman & Waters, 1985), and support during times of transition, such as experiencing times of unemployment (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Butterfield & Borgen, 2005) or surviving downsizing initiatives (Amundson, Borgen, Jordan, & Erlebach, 2004). This recent business literature spans the counselling and business worlds by recognizing that individual behaviour exists within a larger social context, in this case the organization, and that the larger environment affects both relationships and productivity. It is recognized that EAPs provide employer-sponsored counselling services for employees and span both the counselling and business worlds. However, they are often thought of with suspicion by workers who believe they support the interests of the organization, not those of the employees (Cooper et al., 2003). It was thought the environment in which people work, and perhaps the presence or absence of support, might be factors mentioned by the participants in the current study as either helping or hindering. Another way in which people are being supported in their work is through the relatively recent phenomenon of career coaching. Approximately 75 articles were found on career coaching in the business literature databases, compared with only six in the counselling literature databases. Career coaching is the support one person gives to another in order to "encourage, assist and schedule the processes that the client needs to carry out on the path to achieving the maximum job satisfaction" (Busby, 2005, p ; A-32). Career coaches are characterized as 29 "personal consultants for any work-related concerns such as balancing home and work, learning interviewing skills, developing better managerial skills, executive personal and career development, and even managing training to help managers to become career coaches to their employees" (Chung & Gfroercr, 2003, p. 141-142). It is differentiated from counselling because although the relationship is built upon trust, it is not therapeutic. Rather, it is based on the coach's experience and creative thought process that are shared with the client and then left for the client to carry out. According to Busby, the primary result of coaching is increased self-confidence. Career coaching is being touted in the business literature as "a cool way of coping with the demands of modern jobs and progression in the workplace" (A. McCormick, 2005, p. 49). It was interesting there were so few references to it in the career counselling literature, and those few that were found discussed career coaching in very different ways. One mentioned it in terms of a new on-line career niche for psychologists (Chamberlin & Waters, 2000); others called for standards of practice, training, ethics, and professionalism for the career coaching field (Chung & Gfroercr, 2003; Herr et al., 2004). Still others discussed how to train managers and supervisors to be career coaches in order to gain employee commitment to change and help staff assume responsibility for their own employability (Armstrong & West, 2001; Hicks & London, 1991; Paul Stevens, 1998); and another provided a list of career coaching tasks (Hudson, 1999). It was thought that the advent of career coaches might be of interest to understanding the results of the current study. 30 2.2.4 Gaps in the Business Literature After reviewing the business literature, the major gap appears to be that no one has asked workers what helps them thrive during times of change. Much of the literature cited above talks about change from a high level, organizational perspective. It highlights the reasons for change, observes that it is taking a toll on some portion of the working population, and offers a vision of the future world of work and who will thrive in it. Recent studies suggested support for workers is important. However, few studies have been done on the psychological impact these changes affecting the work environment are having on individuals, and it appears that no study has been done that asks workers who are thriving what helps or hinders them in being able to do well. 2.3 Social Psychology Literature 2.3.1 Organizational Culture The field of social psychology has examined the concept of organizational culture, and various researchers have defined it in many different ways (e.g., McCarthy & Steck, 1989; Silvester, Anderson, & Patterson, 1999; Wilkins & Dyer, 1988). For the purposes of the current research project, I have chosen two definitions of organizational culture, as I believe they complement one another and provide adequate coverage of the concept. Fitzgerald (1988) suggesteds organizational culture is composed of "the style, climate, traditional character, norms, core assumptions, decision procedures, management attitudes, and other aspects supposed to compose that culture" (p. 6). Robbins and Langton (1999) put 31 it another way, "organizational culture is a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations" (p. 615). Much of the organizational culture literature, like the workplace change literature just reviewed, addressed the impact of change at the organizational, corporate, executive, strategic, and HR levels, not at the individual level. What appeared to be missing in this literature is the psychological impact organizational culture, and particularly efforts to change the culture, has on the individual (Tobias, 1995). This was reinforced more recently by Bijlsma-Frankema (2001), who found that mergers, acquisitions, and other types of organizational change generally focus primarily on business and financial fit, relegating psychological and cultural issues to secondary concerns. It was also reinforced by Dr. Kevin Murphy, a keynote speaker at the recent 6 t h Australian Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference, who commented that one of his lessons learned is The human element matters. As psychologists, we have an affirmative obligation to care about the welfare of the people we serve, the employers and the employees. We should care about the experience of work as much as we care about the products of work. (L. Prupas, personal communication, June 30, 2005) It is my contention that these failures to pay sufficient attention to the psychological and cultural issues may account for much lost productivity, low morale, and increased absenteeism, yet the literature seems to pay scant attention to the individual experience of a changing work environment. 2.3.2 Person-environment Fit One of the basic tenets of recruitment and selection in the HR discipline is the concept of person-environment (P-E) fit. It is a belief in the importance of ensuring 32 there is a good "fit" between a new hire's personality, skills and values, and the corporation's technical needs, values, and culture. Although this is rarely spoken about, it is commonly understood that when two candidates have roughly equivalent technical skills, references, and relevant experience, a company will generally hire the individual who represents the best "fit" with the company's culture. On the other side of the equation, job seekers are told by job search companies, outplacement firms, and self-help books that part of their responsibility is to ensure a company's values and organizational culture fit them before agreeing to work there (Bolles, 1996; Butterfield & Borgen, 2005; Robbins & Langton, 1999). This matching is consistent with the social psychology concept of the P-E fit (Triandis, 2000). It strikes me as unusual that so much time and effort goes into ensuring the right P-E fit at the point of entry into an organization, and yet little or no consideration appears to be given to this concept when contemplating organizational or cultural change, or indeed change of any kind. Having personally been through several acquisitions, mergers, product changes, deregulations, legislation changes, and downsizings in the past 13 years, I have had an opportunity in my professional HR capacity to see that companies simply expect workers to adjust to whatever change is introduced without giving any further thought to the P-E impact and its criticality for both the company and employees. The P-E fit can be looked at in terms of how well an individual matches an organization's physical and subjective cultures (Betancourt & Lopez, 1993). According to these researchers, physical culture in an organization includes buildings, offices, geographic location, computer systems, equipment, etc., while 33 subjective culture includes corporate norms, organizational roles, beliefs and values, language and communication patterns, personal control, individual vs. collective work arrangements, belonging or connection, etc. Workers faced with organizational change are usually also required to adjust to a new organizational culture. I would argue that organizational culture acts like a cohesive entity to help workers find their place in an organization and do their best work. It likely plays a role in shaping the individual's role definition, self-concept, sense of belonging and personal control, individualistic vs. collectivist work habits, values and beliefs, and learning the organization's technical language - all concepts dealt with in the social psychology literature (Alcock, Carment, & Sadava, 2001) but not mentioned at all with respect to organizational culture or changes to it. No research appears to have been done on the individual impacts of such changes, whether or not such changes affect the P-E fit for the person within the organization, or why some people appear to thrive during and after these changes while others do not. Cushman (1990) suggested "culture 'completes' humans by explaining and interpreting the world, helping them to focus their attention on or ignore certain aspects of their environment, and instructing and forbidding them to think and act in certain ways" (p. 601). He goes on to say that culture "infuses individuals, fundamentally shaping and forming them in how they conceive of themselves and the world, how they see others, how they engage in structures of mutual obligation, and how they make choices in the everyday world" (p. 601). From this perspective, changing an organization's culture fundamentally alters the P-E fit, either positively or negatively. Although the focus of the current study was not on organizational 34 culture, it was anticipated the results might touch on this important aspect of the work environment and its impact on participants' ability to do well with change. 2.4 Positive Psychology Literature Much of the focus of counselling and psychology has been on what is wrong with people rather than on what is right with them. As Faller (2001) pointed out, this focus on pathology leaves little room to examine the best things in life and, in effect, leaves our understanding of people incomplete. Seligitian and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) summarized the history of psychology, reminding us that its initial mission was three-fold: (1) to cure mental illness; (2) to make the lives of all people more productive and fulfilling; and (3) to identify and nurture talented and gifted individuals. Immediately following World War II, psychology's focus shifted to assessing and curing individual suffering, thereby all but excluding the other two goals. These researchers also pointed out that there has been a proliferation of research on psychological disorders and the negative impact of stressors (such as divorce, death of loved ones, physical illness, abuse, etc.). This led to psychologists adopting a disease model of mental illness, which has affected both researchers' conceptualization of various disorders and what they spend their time investigating. Positive psychology advocates the scientific study of people's strengths and virtues. As Fa|ler (2001) stated, it has an interest in finding out "what works, what is right, and what is improving" (p. 9). Positive psychology looks beyond the remedial perspective and is interested in understanding and appreciating human potential, motive, and capacity. By learning about such strengths, it positions practitioners to 35 teach others and to focus on prevention in addition to the more traditional remediation (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi also suggested "a psychology of positive human functioning will arise that achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving in individuals, families, and communities" (p. 14). It is in this spirit of redirecting scientific energy to the positive, to exploring people's strengths, that the current study was conducted. It is also consistent with Hill's (2003) call for work psychologists to focus on talent, well-being, and visionary leadership, and his contention that in the long run such a focus will have greater pragmatic relevance to organizations and individuals. 2.4.1 Hope and learned optimism. The concepts of hope and learned optimism, often written about under the rubric of positive psychology (Maier, Peterson, & Schwartz, 2000), may be of importance when analyzing the data gathered from the current study. Hope was likened to a rainbow by Snyder (2002), who suggested it, like a rainbow, lifts our spirits and makes us think of what is possible. His definition of hope was "a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy), and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals)" (p. 250). This is different from the concept of thriving to be discussed shortly, and it is also different from learned optimism, which is the complement of and arises out of the research done on learned helplessness (B. Schwartz,-2000; Seligman, 2000). According to Schwartz and Seligman, learned optimism appears to be one of the cornerstones of shaping a positive psychology. To Snyder (2002), hope theory is different from learned optimism in that the former focuses on "reaching future 36 positive goal-related outcomes, and there is an explicit emphasis placed on the agency and pathways goal-directed cognitions" (p. 256); whereas the latter reflects a pattern of "making external, variable, and specific attributions for negative outcomes rather than internal, stable, and global attributions" (p. 256). It was thought the findings of the current study mjght inform the extent to which one, or both, of these theories applies to the concept of thriving. Schwartz (2000) pointed out that positive psychology and learned optimism are still in their infancy and thus raised many questions and cautions about them. At f this point there appear to be more questions than answers around these constructs. One major concern raised by Schwartz was that learned optimism and positive psychology are in danger of suggesting "that we can fix the world by fixing the way people think about it" (p. 407). He feared that positive psychology would give psychologists tools to make people satisfied with work lives that should not satisfy them. His maxim of "when the world needs changing, we should change the world and not how people think about it" (p. 409) is a caution with which I agree and so kept it in mind while conducting the study and analyzing the results. 2.5 Literature on Thriving 2.5.1 The Concept of Thriving in the Business Literature A literature search in the business and management databases, using "thriving" as the keyword, elicited over 58,000 references. A refined search using "thriving" and "employees" as the keywords garnered 1,700 books and articles. After reviewing the abstracts of nearly 400 of these references covering the years 1999 to 37 the present, it became evident that all but two of them dealt with organizational thriving in one of three ways: 1. As defined by sales volume, revenue, number of employees, profits, etc. (Arensman, 2003; Bartsch, 2002; Block, 2001; Pagani, 2003; Robertson & Varcoe, 2003; Varnon, 2003). These articles were essentially rags to riches stories about how failing companies were transformed into thriving ones based on increased revenues, etc. The effects on individual employees and their ability to thrive in the new businesses were not discussed. 2. As defined by management and recruitment practices that produce, or are theorized to produce, superior results (as measured by increased sales, revenues/etc). This category contains a potpourri of suggestions that include the qualities of speed leaders (those able to lead in the high-speed, fast-reaction-time environments in which most businesses now operate) (R. J. Thomas & Bennis, 2002), new staffing and recruitment strategies (Fuentes, 1999; Murphy, 1999), the end of management and the rise of organizational democracy (Brumback, 2003), changes to employee benefits programs that are intended to help people thrive by meeting basic health-care needs (R. K. Abbott, 2002; Barney, 2000), and a five-year study of must-have management practices that produce superior results (Nohira, Joyce, & Roberson, 2003). Again, what was missing from these articles was the individual perspective and how people were able to thrive, if indeed they were, in these changing environments. 3. As described by people giving "how-to" advice about succeeding in specific niche areas. Examples included how to be a successful IT consultant ("Get the better 38 of tough times," 2003), how to be a successful career capitalist (Inkson & Arthur, 2001), and how to strategize before changing career paths (Kanchier, 2003). The first exception was an article about how HR professionals were thriving (Halcrow, 2002). However, the concept of thriving was not defined, and the focus was on the work structure and type of work being done by HR.professionals, not on the individual characteristics or perspectives that helped some thrive. Reading the article more closely, it appeared it was the HR discipline that was thriving, not its practitioners. The second exception was an article about developments in work psychology (Patterson, 2001). While the word "thriving" was given as a key word, it was not referred to in the article. Indeed, the thrust of the article was a summary of the burgeoning work available for work psychologists in light of the changing nature of work and the fact that the discipline of work psychology was apparently thriving. Although Patterson mentioned that work psychologists were beginning to turn their attention to the individual, rather than holding an exclusive focus on the organization, the article did not address whether work psychologists or people working in other industries were thriving. A review of the books and articles by some of the best-known business and management writers did not prove fruitful for material on individuals who are thriving at work. Much of the literature focused on characteristics of successful, thriving companies (Kanter, 1999a, 2003; Peters, 1996). Once again, thriving was described in terms of sales, profits, growth, and number of employees (either a great increase, as a testament to a growing, thriving business; or a great decrease, as a testament to making an organization more efficient and therefore increasing profits and 39 financial thriving). The focus was clearly on the organization and what it takes to thrive locally in a global economy, not on individuals who are thriving. According to Kanter, the new criteria for corporate thriving comes from the ability to command concepts (leading-edge ideas, designs, etc. that add value for customers), competence (the ability "to translate ideas into applications for customers"), and connections ("alliances among businesses to leverage core capabilities") (2003, p. 2). Although these were described using examples of organizations exhibiting these competencies, corresponding individual thriving strategies were not discussed. Kanter's vision of the future organization, which included creating an innovative culture, did not address strategies for helping employees adjust to and thrive in it. Senge and Carstedt (2001) discussed the importance of innovation to the New Economy, but they did so from the organizational perspective, not the individual perspective. While they highlight Deming's observation that "the prevailing system of management has destroyed our people" (p. 6), they did not provide a road map to help individuals heal, let alone thrive. A recent management book on toxin handlers in organizations (Frost, 2003) offered strategies to heal the handlers, but these do not necessarily generalize to others or provide insights as to why some people thrive at work while others do not. Covey's (1989) best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has been used as a common management training tool for more than a decade (I have attended at least four workshops, seminars, satellite broadcasts, etc. based on his work). Subtitled, Powerful lessons in personal change, its seven strategies for becoming more effective do not appear to translate into how to thrive, as can be surmised by statistics showing rising absenteeism due 40 to psychosocial issues, lacklustre innovation, and falling productivity. 2.5.2 The Concept of Thriving in the Psychology Literature Carver (1998) asked, "if some people experience deterioration in their responses to adversity and others respond instead with growth, the following question becomes critical: what differentiates these sets of people from each other?" (p. 256). The current study began with the assumption that people who volunteered to participate in the current study because they self-reported as "doing well" were, by definition, "thriving". The hope was to learn what helped them do well and thus develop tools to help their colleagues who are struggling in the same environment. It was therefore important to find out what was known about this population and the concept of thriving. Twenty-three references using the keyword "thriving" were found in the psychology databases, including ERIC and PsyclNFO. Of those 23, only one attempted to explore the attributes of people who thrived during organizational change (Saltzmann, 1997). However, that study provided only limited information on how some people were able to thrive because its focus was on specific pre-determined attributes and its aim was to find out whether people who thrived during organizational change in a single company shared those attributes. This was accomplished by utilizing a series of assessment instruments intended to measure optimism, pessimism, and attributional style, as well as obtaining peer assessments in order to confirm that other people perceived the participants as thriving. This approach shared some of the methodological problems found in the stress and coping literature discussed by O'Driscoll and Cooper (1994), which are summarized 41 in an upcoming section. The other 22 articles were more general discussions about what psychology has done to help hospitals thrive within the managed care environment (Morris, 1997), how structural holes (disconnections between network contacts) are associated with thriving on advocacy and change (Burt, 1988), and how the Danes reacted to the economic crisis of May 1992 (Petersen, 1985). No articles were found that took a qualitative approach to focus on the subjective experience or natural strategies used by individuals who are thriving in working environments characterized by constant change. A similar literature search in the psychology and ERIC databases using as key words "thriving" and "individuals" garnered 16 references. Once again, these articles did not address the experiences of working women and men that were of interest in the current study. Several articles discussed thriving in relation to adults who had experienced childhood sexual abuse (e.g., Casaccio, 2000; Kauffmann, 1997). Other articles examined the concept of individuals thriving within a context of personal adversity, such as people living in a slum or living with ill health (e.g., Banerjee, 1997; Finfgeld, 1999). Still others looked at thriving on performance evaluation in organizations (LaPelle, 1998), and thriving following the death of a loved one (Alday, 1998). Not one was relevant to the current study. A search using the keyword phrase "psychological thriving" garnered 13 articles that positioned the concept of psychological thriving within the positive psychology movement and discussed at length the genesis and current status of this relatively new field of psychological inquiry. The current study used Ickovics and Park's (1998) definition that suggests psychological thriving is 42 ...the effective mobilization of individual and social resources in response to risk or threat, leading to positive mental or physical outcomes and/or positive social outcomes. We suggest that thriving represents something more than a return to equilibrium (i.e., homeostasis) following a challenge, (p. 237) Thriving is therefore generally accepted to mean not just a return to a baseline level of functioning, but exceeding it to function at a higher level after being exposed to a risk or threat (Carver, 1998; Ickovics & Park, 1998; O'Leary, 1998; Park, 1998). The concept of thriving arose from the research on resilience, which is most often understood to be the ability of an individual to return to a previous level of functioning and to generally exhibit reasonably stable functioning over time (Bonanno, 2004; Tugade & Fredrickson, 2004). The characterization of thriving in relation to resilience is well depicted by Carver (1998, p. 246), whose graphic is reproduced below as Figure 1. Although not part of Carver's original conceptualization, it struck me that Figure 1 also offers a framework for understanding hardiness, which is a character trait thought to contribute to "resilience"; coping, which could be equated with "survival with impairment"; and burnout, which could be equated with "succumbing". Each of these is discussed in more detail in upcoming sections. 43 Figure 1: Depiction of Psychological Thriving Adverse Event Thriving r / Resilience (recovery) Survival with Irnpairrnent Succumbing Time From Carver, C. S. (1998). Resilience and thriving: Issues, models, and linkages. Journal of Social Issues, 54(2), p. 246. Reprinted with permission from Journal of Social Issues. © 1998 Blackwell Publishing. 44 If resilience is a way of behaving and thinking that is characterized by relatively stable functioning in the face of an adverse event, then what contributes to people's ability to be resilient? Personality hardiness is often discussed in the literature as being synonymous with resilience. However, it is a separate concept that arose from the research on individual differences in stress reactions. Hardiness is considered a personality trait that has the characteristic attitudes of control, commitment, and challenge, which are presented as helping a person perceive a situation as a challenge (rather than as a danger or threat), and to turn stressful situations into opportunities for growth (Maddi, 2002). Hardiness is thought to be one pathway to resilience (Maddi, 2005), and is "theorized to influence the way in which people interact with their environment" (Maddi & Hightower, 1999, p. 95). What thriving, resilience, and hardiness have in common is that they are all mobilized in reaction to an adverse event. The literature covering these three concepts defines adverse events as traumatic, life-altering crises such as the death of a spouse, a personal near death experience, a life-threatening catastrophic illness, or experiencing or witnessing some form of violence (Carver, 1998; O'Leary, 1998; Saakvitne et al., 1998; Snodgrass, 1998). Once having experienced an adverse event, these researchers suggested that some individuals "bounce back" either to their previous level of functioning (resilience) or to a higher level of functioning (thriving); others survive but with impairment; and still others succumb and do not recover. This conceptualization of thriving in relation to resilience, impairment, and succumbing was chosen because it appears to be the pre-eminent model in the 45 thriving literature and it is at the centre of most, if not all, of the literature found on this subject. It fits well with anecdotal stories and observations in many workplaces about four general classifications of individuals: (1) those who appear to be exceeding job requirements and functioning at a high level of creativity and engagement, apparently without effort (thriving); (2) those who are known to be doing their jobs but at a level that is considered just adequate (resilience); (3) those who have temporarily left the workplace on short-term or long-term disability or Workers' Compensation Board claims and who returned to light duties because an ongoing impairment prevents them from doing full job duties for some period of time (survival with impairment); and (4) those who leave the workplace permanently as a result of severe disability rendering them unable to work, or voluntary or involuntary separation from the organization (succumbing). At first glance it appeared that because psychological thriving seems to be arrived at in reaction to a catastrophic event, it might not apply to the population of research participants of interest for the current study. However, Blankenship (1998) f made the point that "because individuals are differentially situated in the social hierarchy, they are likely to experience different kinds of challenges" (p. 398). Blankenship further suggested that what constitutes an extraordinary event in one context might not constitute an extraordinary event in another context, so challenged the assumption that adversity be equated with trauma or hitting rock bottom. In addition, Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) talked about thriving communities and building thriving in individuals in their discussion about positive psychology. Although they did not specifically state what thriving in individuals would look like, it 46 can perhaps be inferred from their description of the positive traits to be found and fostered in individuals, namely "the capacity for love and vocation, courage, interpersonal skill, aesthetic sensibility, perseverance, forgiveness, originality, future mindedness, spirituality, high talent, and wisdom" (p. 5), or more generally as "well-being, contentment and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimism (for the future); and flow and happiness (in the present)" (p. 5). Although IckoviCs and Park's (1998) and Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi's (2000) way of talking about thriving and the manner in which one attains a state of thriving appear to be different, what they both seem to have in common is the expectation of a high level of functioning and some measure of well-being. It was in this spirit that the term thriving was used at the outset of the current study. The gaps in the literature therefore appear to be: (1) that little research has been done on the experience of people who are not suffering from some psychopathology (Seligman, 1998a, 1998b); and (2) that the concept of psychological thriving (Ickovics & Park, 1998; O'Leary, 1998) has not been applied to the everyday working lives of people who have not experienced a traumatic adverse event: This latter point is underscored by the fact that the term "psychological thriving" appears to have been supplanted in the current literature by the term "posttraumatic growth" (J. Ickovics, personal communication, October 7, 2005). A literature search using "posttraumatic growth" as they key words garnered 27 articles, all of which focused on growth after trauma (e.g., Arnold, Calhoun, Tedeschi, & Cann, 2005; Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2001; Powell, Rosner, Butolo, Tedeschi, & Calhoun, 2003; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). None of these studies 47 focused on the population of interest in the current study, and none explored the concept of psychological thriving in circumstances that were not "traumatic". 2.6 Stress and Coping Literature I was interested to know whether the concept of thriving in the face of change might have been discussed in the stress and coping literature, and to understand how coping is different from thriving. Given that the concept of hardiness arose from the stress and coping research, and the notion of thriving arose from the resilience work that is closely related to hardiness, there appeared to be a line of sight linking these constructs. However, a review of the stress and coping literature quickly revealed that the concept of coping is very different from that of thriving. It struck me that people who experienced stress and were coping might fall into the "survival with impairment" stream of Carver's (1998) model (see p. 43). This section provides an overview of the relevant literature, how coping differs from thriving, some of the gaps in the literature, and some methodological issues found in the stress and coping research. It concludes with an overview of the related topic of work stress. 2.6.1 General Stress and Coping Literature It is generally accepted that stress is a pervasive and growing phenomenon in our society at the start of the 21s t century (Menzies, 2005). As Compas, Connor, Osowiecki, and Welch (1997) pointed out, there is "massive and growing literature on coping with stress" (p. 106). A recent literature review of the stress and coping literature in the PsyclNFO database elicited over 11,000 references. Clearly it has been a major topic of psychological investigation over the past several decades. 48 Although a complete analysis of the literature was not possible for this review, the several hundred references I examined that spanned the last two decades appeared to fall into one of eight broad categories: 1. Introducing or explaining new stress and coping models (Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Portello & Long, 2001); 2. Testing stress and coping models and attempting to determine causation (Long et al., 1992; J. E. Schwartz & Stone, 1993; Terry, Callan, & Sartori, 1996); 3. Exploring the sources of stress, coping strategies, and how to prevent burnout from excess stress arising from these sources (Hooley, 1997; O'Driscoll & Cooper, 1996; Terry, 1994; Van Pelt, 1997); 4. Identifying the psychosocial resources that mediate or contribute to stress, for example personal agency, self-esteem, support, etc. (S. Cohen & Wills, 1985; Terry, Tonge, & Callan, 1995; J, Turner & Roszell, 1994); 5. Discussing the moderating effects of various interventions on stress (Strauss-Blasche, Ekmekcioglu, & Marktl, 2002; Trenberth & Dewe, 2002); 6. Examining the relationship between stress and other constructs, such as depression or marital cohesion (Robinson, Flowers, & Carrol, 2001; Tennant, 2001); 7. Comparing differences and similarities of how people handle stress, such as gender differences or differences among managers (Gaur & Prateek Dhawan, 2000; Lamude, Scudder, & Younkin, 1999; Long, 1998; L. M. McDonald & Korabik, 1991; Nelson, Quick, & Hitt, 1989); and 49 8. Predicting and analyzing ways of coping with or controlling work-related stress (Matteson & Ivancevich, 1987; Newton & Keenan, 1985). It was clear after reviewing this literature that the Lazarus and Folkman model of stress, appraisal and coping predominated. In light of the conjecture at the start of this research that perhaps workers who were thriving in this constantly changing environment did so because they perceived changes as challenges or opportunities, the current study utilized the Lazarus and Folkman (1984) model of stress and coping. Other reasons it was chosen include the fact it formed the foundation for much of the literature related to workplace stress and coping (e.g., Aspinwall, 1997; Long, 1998), and it was used as the base for much of the psychological thriving research (e.g., Park, 1998; Saakvitne et al., 1998). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) defined psychological stress as "a particular relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his or her well-being" (p. 19). Their theory identified two processes, cognitive appraisal and coping, as important mediators of stress in a wide variety of settings. First, cognitive appraisal is the process an individual engages in to determine whether the stressor is relevant to his or her well-being, and if it is, in what way (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986). Cognitive appraisal is broken down into two types: (1) primary appraisal, during which the person evaluates what, if anything, he or she has at stake in the encounter; and (2) secondary appraisal, where the person evaluates what can be done to prevent, overcome or minimize the prospect of harm, and whether he or she has the necessary resources to do so. Second, coping is a 50 process that is defined as "constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person" (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 141). This is the process whereby an individual's behaviours and thoughts, and how they change in relation to the unfolding stressor, determine the extent to which a person is able (or unable) to deal with the stressor. In this model, it is therefore neither the event itself nor the environment that causes a person to experience stress; rather it is the person's cognitive appraisal of the event or environment that determines whether or not they have a stressful reaction and the strategies they use to cope with it. What struck me as I read the stress and coping literature and familiarized myself with its terminology was its underlying negative connotation. A review of some of the definitions associated with this literature serve to make the point. The definition of psychological stress offered by Lazarus and Folkman (1986) included the descriptors of "taxing" one's resources and "endangering well-being" (p. 19). Synonyms for stress include affliction, agony, alarm, fear, hardship, hassle, strain, oppression, and trauma (Roget's 21st century thesaurus, 1999). It was interesting to note that when Hans Selye first started researching stress in the 1930s, his definition had neither a positive nor a negative connotation. As O'Driscoll and Cooper (1996) stated, Selye's definition of stress was "a non-specific outcome (either physical or psychological) of any demand made upon the organism" (p. 189). The interpretation of stress as being equivalent to strain and negativity was apparently introduced later. Similarly, definitions of coping include descriptors about ways to "reduce, minimize, master, or tolerate" internal and external demands made of a person 51 (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen et al., 1986, p. 572). Coping is defined as dealing with and attempting to overcome problems and difficulties; stress is defined as a constraining force or influence, a state of mental or bodily tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium {Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary, 2000). Synonyms for coping include enduring, grappling, living with, struggling through, suffering, and confronting {Roget's 21st century thesaurus, 1999). They imply that coping is something we do in the face of danger, and it involves actively engaging in the battle, or passively getting through the ordeal. By virtue of these definitions, coping and stress have negative connotations that have at their base the sense of some impending or actual trauma, danger or threat that must be endured, overcome, or vanquished., This is consistent with the definitions already discussed related to hardiness and resilience, constructs that were thought to be similar to coping and that have to do with the ability to withstand some prolonged stressful effort or activity and return to a baseline level of functioning. Unlike hardiness and resilience, coping does not appear to be confined to dealing with adverse events or stressors that are catastrophic in nature. Using Carver's (1998) depiction of thriving, these definitions suggest coping at best allows an individual to return to a baseline level of functioning, while some might recover with impairment or not recover at all. This observation of the inherent negative connotation of stress and coping in the literature was also commented upon by Cooper, Dewe and O'Driscoll (2001). The important point here is that the focus of the stress and coping literature has been on people having difficulty dealing with change, not on those who are doing well in the face of change. 52 Two other terms that arose in the stress and coping literature warrant discussion at this point. The concept of proactive coping is defined as consisting "of efforts undertaken in advance of a potentially stressful event to prevent it or to modify its form before it occurs" (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1997, p. 417). A second term used by these researchers is that of anticipatory coping. This involves "preparation for the stressful consequences of an upcoming event whose occurrence is likely or certain" (p. 417). These two terms differ from Lazarus and colleagues' definition of coping in several ways: (1) they are temporally prior to the event rather than after it; (2) they address nonexistent or nebulous stressors; and (3) they require different skills to be successfully accomplished. However, what they have in common with the definitions of stress and coping already discussed is the expectation of adverse consequences, either overtly or covertly, otherwise intervention would not be required. This suggests these terms are fundamentally different from the concept of thriving and the conjecture that underpins the current study that workers who are doing well do not appraise change as threatening or dangerous. 2.6.2 The Need for a New Orientation There have been suggestions that the stress and coping literature is telling only one part of the story. Shaw, Fields, Thacker, and Fisher (1993) stated that most research, particularly research around stress and coping in the face of organizational change, "has focused on the resistance to change exhibited by employees. Relatively little effort has been made to study other aspects of the psychological impact of large-scale change" (p. 230). Schwartz and Stone (1993) pointed out that much of the stress, coping and organizational change research 53 focused on what the work-related stressors were, not on why some workers were able to deal successfully with them and some were not. A recent literature review I conducted suggests this may still be the case. Terry, Callan and Sartori (1996) pointed out that "few researchers have directed their attention towards the identification of factors that distinguish those employees who adjust successfully to such change from those whose level of adjustment is poor" (p. 105). Cooper, Dewe and O'Driscoll (2001) called for researchers to begin focusing on aspects of people's experiences that would contribute to the development of healthier people and work environments. Finally, Aspinwall and Taylor (1997) stated, "Nonevents are rarely selected for scientific investigation" (p. 418). Their point was that researchers have ignored aspects of how people deal with change, possibly because proactive actions taken by a person minimize negative outcomes, little tends to be lost, and thus little can be studied by outside observers. The current study was intended to take a step in the direction of identifying such factors in workers who thrive during times of change, who minimize adverse consequences and, in fact, maximize positive ones. 2.6.3 Methodological Issues Before leaving the stress and coping literature, it is important to note that a number of methodological issues have been identified with respect to the existing stress and coping research. These are summarized well by O'Driscoll and Cooper (1994), and Cooper, Dewe and O'Driscoll (2001). Some of the issues they highlighted are as follows: 1. Issues have been identified regarding the concepts and methods of coping assessment. For example, different definitions of coping make it difficult to 54 compare findings across studies. Often the distinction is not made between coping styles and actual coping behaviours. 2. The P-E fit conceptualization of stress is at the core of many approaches to work stress research. Although it is an important framework for understanding the stress and coping process, Lazarus pointed out the P-E fit idea conveys a static relationship and thus highlights three erroneous underlying assumptions or tendencies at the core of stress and coping research: first, adaptation is always assumed to be synonymous with good fit and maladaptation with misfit; second, some people are always assumed to function well whereas others are assumed always to function badly; and third, there is a tendency to view some environments as essentially good and others as essentially bad, which implies that individuals will always respond in the same way to the same, or similar, situations. Little research has been focused on exploring the characteristics that define the stress-coping process or that represent the essence of the P-E transaction. 3. Most of the job-related stress studies have not been able to identify which of all the potential sources of stress were most salient to individuals, studying instead participants' perceptions of the impact of multiple potential stressors. This puts in question the ecological validity of the results. 4. Much of the research has been centred on a set of theoretical constructs arising from the work by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) that are reflected in the Ways of Coping questionnaire, the most commonly used coping assessment tool. Methodological problems have been identified with this measure, 55 including its internal, construct, convergent, and discriminant validity. The result is that these problems may have been responsible for a lack of progress in increasing our knowledge of the stress and coping process. These issues have also been identified and discussed by various other researchers (e.g., J. A. Handy, 1988; Oakland & Ostell, 1996; Somerfield & McCrae, 2000). Lazarus (2000) recently stated his own concerns about the quality and type of stress and coping research, suggesting it needs to be changed or the gap between research and clinical practice will continue to widen. He called for new research design techniques, which echoes O'Driscoll's and Cooper's (1994) suggestion that a better fit of method to the theory is required in order to capture the full range of the stress-coping process. They advocated using a critical incident analysis approach in order to overcome many, if not all, of these difficulties. Although the focus of the current study was not on stress and coping, use of the CIT should be equally effective for studying the little-explored phenomenon of workers who are doing well in an environment of ongoing change. Finally, Cooper, Dewe and O'Driscoll (2001) stated that researchers need to acknowledge and study the benefits of working. As discussed in Chapter One, many advantages accrue to working women and men in paid employment, and many workers experience a sense of accomplishment and well-being. This focus on the more positive aspects of working, and of positive psychological states as they pertain to stress and coping, is a viewpoint that Folkman has come to believe in latter years (Folkman, 1997; Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000a, 2000b). While I agree with the observation made by Cooper and his colleagues, I would also add that we 56 need to extend our investigations to look at people who are doing well at work, and find out what enables them to thrive. Only in this way can we begin to understand the whole experience of contemporary workers. 2.6.4 Work Stress Literature Given the focus of the current study on workers who are doing well in constantly changing environments that affect their work, one final area of the stress and coping literature needs to be addressed, that of work stress. Much has been written about work stress, including: (1) problems with methods and focus (Dewe, 2004; O'Driscoll & Cooper, 1994); (2) its representation as a modern epidemic that is threatening workers' mental health and affecting all areas of their lives (Wainwright & Calnan, 2002); (3) the role of appraisal in the workplace stress process and the need for it to be taken into account in research (Dewe & Trenberth, 2004); (4) the reasons why there are few effective responses to and tools for reducing work-related stress (A. R. Arthur, 2004); (5) calls for a fundamental reappraisal of the work-stress theories (Briner, Harris, & Daniels, 2004); (6) the relationship between role justice and job or work stress (Zohar, 1995); (7) the benefits of interventions for work-related stress (van der Klink, Blonk, Schene, & van Dijk, 2001), and (8) an entire handbook devoted to work stress with information about causes, costs, prevention, interventions, and other issues that span the psychology, business, health, preventive medicine, and social work disciplines (Barling, Kelloway, & Frone, 2005). What these articles and books have in common is a focus on what is going wrong with people at workf rather than on what is going right. They focus on the problems and stressors, and do not appear to question why some people seem to 57 be doing well in the same environment as those who are struggling. They explore the individuals who are experiencing stress, and focus primarily on stress originating at work. There are three things that set the current study apart from the work stress research. First, it focused on workers who had experienced changes affecting their work and who reported they were doing well with them, thus exploring what is working well for people rather than what is not. In doing so, it addressed gaps cited by many researchers (e.g., Briner et al., 2004; Dewe, 2004; O'Driscoll & Cooper, 1994) about expanding the research base to explore other aspects of the work experience during times of change. Second, this research did not restrict its exploration to changes originating at work - it asked workers to describe changes arising in any arenas of their lives that affected their work. By doing this, the current study acknowledged the interconnection of work, home, community, and other spheres of people's lives and invited people to share how experiences in any of them affected their work. Finally, the current study took a qualitative research approach by using the CIT. This addressed concerns by Dewe (2004) and others that only quantitative methods were being used to explore work stress and thus perhaps only part of the story was being understood. It was thought this qualitative, positive psychology approach might add to our understanding of work stress. 2.7 Burnout Literature The current study was intended to focus on workers who were doing well in the face, of change. However, because participants were not recruited based on a pre-determined definition of what "doing well" meant, it was possible that some might 58 not be doing as well as others and it would be necessary to explain or understand their experiences. After reviewing Carver's (1998) depiction of resilience and thriving (see p. 43), it seemed reasonable to try and find a concept that fit into his diagram for those individuals who neither thrived nor exhibited resilience, but rather fell into the "succumbed" stream. The concept of burnout appeared a promising way to frame these people's experiences. The current study therefore drew on Maslach's work on burnout (Leiter & Maslach, 2001; Maslach et al., 2001). The definition of burnout offered by Maslach and Jackson (1981) was used, Burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion and cynicism that occurs frequently among individuals who do 'people-work' of some kind. A key aspect of the burnout syndrome is increased feelings of emotional exhaustion. As their emotional resources are depleted, workers feel they are no longer able to give of themselves at a psychological level. Another aspect is the development of negative, cynical attitudes and feelings about one's clients, (p. 99) The phenomenon of burnout as described above was originally applied to individuals working in people-related jobs. According to this model, emotional exhaustion is considered to be the pre-eminent characteristic of burnout, but although an essential feature it is not sufficient on its own to warrant classifying someone as burned out (Maslach et al., 2001). Two other components are needed. Emotional exhaustion leads to a change in the individual's relationship with work in two important ways: (1) the person often begins to feel inept or incompetent in his or her role, or has a sense of "reduced personal accomplishment" (Maslach et al., 2001, p. 403); and (2) in order to deal with this and perhaps gain emotional distance from the stressor, individuals experiencing burnout often separate themselves emotionally from their 59 clients and colleagues by becoming cynical and/or exhibiting indifference. Maslach's model was chosen because it continues to be the most common and best-researched way of conceptualizing burnout. Its utility has recently been expanded to include workers in any discipline, not just those in people-related jobs, and the model has recently incorporated the idea that burnout is "a non-productive relationship with work. It is not a clinical disturbance, but rather an extreme point on a three-dimensional continuum: energy, involvement and effectiveness" (Leiter & Maslach, 2001, p. 49). This new way of conceptualizing burnout is reproduced below in Figure 2. 60 Figure 2: What is burnout? E B ENERGY N U • —fe< •< w R INVOLVEMENT A N —w •4 w 0 EFFECTIVENESS E M U ^ ; • w T E N T From Leiter, M P , & Maslach, C. (2001). Burnout and quality in a sped-up world. Journal for Quality and Participation, 24(2), p. 49. Reprinted with permission from Journal for Quality and Participation. © 2001 American Society for Quality. 61 Individuals at the "engagement with work" end of the continuum are posited to feel energetic and be effectively engaged/involved with work and people. Individuals at the "burnout" end of the continuum would feel exhausted, ineffective, and distant from work and people. It was thought that the workers who participated in the current study, those doing well, would be at the "engagement with work" end of the continuum and that it might be another way to think about the concept of thriving. Recent work on burnout has also been exploring six areas of work life: workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values. Leiter and Maslach (Leiter & Maslach, 2001) suggested that a mismatch in just one or two of these areas, especially those that are key for a particular individual, can lead to burnout. Recently, other researchers have conceptualized the cause of burnout as "the end result of a gradual process of disillusionment in the quest to derive existential significance from work" (Pines, 1993 as cited in van Dierendonck, Garssen, & Visser, 2005, p. 63). Others (e.g., Angerer, 2003) have suggested that burnout is not the result of flaws in individuals, but rather flaws in the environments in which they work. These researchers believe that both the individual and the work environment need to change in order to overcome the impacts of worker burnout. Although the purpose of the current study was not to explore Leiter and Maslach's model, or to test van Dierendonck and colleagues' ideas about the cause of burnout, it was thought these concepts might contribute to our understanding of workers' lived experiences of change and what helps them handle those changes well. 62 2.8 Career Counselling Literature A mission statement for the next decade of career counselling as a discipline was offered recently by Savickas (2000): Career counseling is a specialty within the profession of counseling, one that fosters vocational development and work adjustment of individuals at each life stage by engaging them in life planning aimed at the psychosocial integration of an individual's abilities, interests, and goals with the work roles structured by the community and occupations organized by companies. It is characterized by developmental and person-environment fit models that assist a developing and deciding individual to make suitable and viable choices, (p. 88) This mission statement envisions a role for career counselling at every stage of an individual's career. In addition, it introduces the idea that help with work adjustment is needed at all stages of one's working life. Inherent in this mission statement is the recognition of the vast and unprecedented changes in organizations, jobs, careers, family and societal systems in the past few decades, which has been recognized by many in the career counselling field (e.g., Borgen, 1997; Collin & Young, 2000b; Gysbers, Heppner, & Johnston, 2003; Herretal., 2004; Stoltz-Loike, 1996). Despite this vision of an inclusive and career-long role for career counselling, neither the experience of individuals who are doing well at work in the face of constant change and instability, nor the impact of constant and increasing change on individuals appear to be areas of active research in the career counselling literature. The one exception found was an article dealing with the impact of downsizing on the employees who remained (survivors of downsizing) (Amundson et al., 2004). 2.8.1 Results of Literature Search Using Key Words Given Carver's (1998) conceptualization of thriving and resilience (see p. 43), literature searches in the psychology, business, and education databases using 63 those two words, as well as hardiness and "doing well" were undertaken. A search using the key words "career development and psychological thriving", and "career counseling and psychological thriving" yielded no results. A search using the key words "career counseling and thriving" yielded 17 results, none of which addressed workers who were doing well in the face of change. For example, articles dealt with a career introduction model for first-generation college freshmen students (Ayala & Striplen, 2002), career counselling for special populations such as the sandwich generation, older workers, and career counsellors (Byrd, 2002; Everett & Gaffin, 2002; Laporte, 2002), and how the family influences career decision making (Chope, 2002). None dealt with the population of interest for the current study. A search using as key words "career development and thriving" yielded 31 results. Seventeen of those were the same as the results found that were just described and were not relevant for the current study. The remaining 14 results dealt with such issues as career counselling for special ethnic groups (Gomez, 1998), with career counselling challenges for people who are downsized (Crist & Durham, 2001), and ideas for overcoming barriers to employment (Harney, 2002). Again, none of the articles, reports, or books dealt with the population of workers who are doing well. A search using as key words "career counseling and doing well" found three items, all of which related to a counsellor's manual for a program called PLACE (R. E. Thomas & Rosove, 1981). A similar search using as key words "career development and doing well" found nine items, not one of which was relevant to the current study. For instance, one article talked about doing well through volunteering 64 (Surdyk & Diddams, 1999); another article looked at mentoring among social workers (Collins, 1994); and finally one looked at finding employers for a career fair ("Employers sought for Whittemore career fair," 2004). The other six references were not any more relevant to the current study than these examples. A search using as key words "career development and resilience" yielded 67 references; a search using as key words "career development and hardiness" yielded seven references. Upon examination, none of these addressed the population of interest to the current study or the concept of mainstream workers who are doing well when faced with changes affecting their work. For example, some articles dealt with assessment and measurement issues (Rathburn, 2004; Williams & Cooper, 1998); others dealt with instilling hardiness in clients and students (Stovall, 2002; Studd, 1999); and still others focused on specialpopulations such as women in management in South Korea, Latino lesbian and gay youth, supervisors, and military personnel (Adams, Cahill, & Ackerlind, 2005; Gowan, Craft, & Zimmermann, 2000; Hye-Ryun & Rowley, 2005; London, 2002). A search using as key words "career counseling and hardiness" yielded one reference, which examined a number of factors in college juniors and seniors to see if they were related to self-efficacy (Niles & Sowa, 1992) and was not related to the aims of the current study. A search using as key words "career counseling and resilience" yielded 12 results, none of which addressed workers who were handling change well. For example, topics included empowering high risk clients to attain a better quality of life, investigating personality correlates of small business success, the social and emotional development of gifted children, and issues in indigenous 65 educational and vocational counselling (Crump, 2001; Neihart, Reis, Robinson, & Moon, 2002; Owens, 2004; Rickwood, Roberts, & Batten, 2004) A search using the key words "career hardiness" found two references, one of which introduced a new career software program being launched by Murray Axmith, an outplacement firm, to help managers and employees take charge of their careers (Jukes, 1996). The other article was a grounded theory study of career development in a large public sector organization (Knapp, 1996). A search using the key words "career resilience" found 53 references. These articles focused on the concepts of career resilience and career hardiness, not on workers who are doing well or the concepts of individual resilience and hardiness in the sense described in the psychological thriving and hardiness literature (Ickovics & Park, 1998; Maddi, 2005). The concept of career resilience is discussed in more detail later in this section. 2.8.2 Reviews of Two Prominent Career Counselling Journals A review of two prominent journals in the career counselling/career development field was undertaken to see whether there might be articles relevant to the current study that were not found by doing the literature searches described above. A review of the December 1994 through September 2005 issues of the Journal of Employment Counseling failed to find any articles devoted to the topic of workers handling change well. A similar review of the September 1996 through September 2005 issues of the Career Development Quarterly garnered only the article mentioned above that dealt with survivors of downsizing (Amundson et al., 2004). Otherwise, no articles were found that addressed the experiences of change of mainstream working women and men who are handling change well. 66 Each year, The Career Development Quarterly publishes an annual review of practice and research in career counselling and development that looks at trends, highlights, and issues published the previous year. Although these reviews are not exhaustive, they are extensive. For instance, the December 2004 review of 2003 (Dagley & Salter, 2004) reviewed 28 journals in the career counselling and development field, including the Journal of Career Development, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Employment Counseling, Australian Journal of Career Development, Journal of Counseling Psychology, British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, and the International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling, plus others. The 1998 annual review (Young, 1999) included 21 books and 259 articles from 24 career counselling and development journals and 34 psychology and social and behavioural science journals. Examination of the annual reviews for the past nine years revealed that the experience of working women and men who are handling change well was not mentioned in any of them (Arbona, 2000; Flores et al., 2003; Luzzo & MacGregor, 2001; Niles, 1997; Stoltz-Loike, 1996; Swanson, 1998; Whiston & Brecheisen.,2002). For example, Stoltz-Loike (1996) discussed seven areas in her review of 1995: (1) client and counsellor relationships; (2) business and industry; (3) university career centres; (4) career development theories; (5) gender differences; (6) work and family issues; and (7) cross-cultural issues. In his review of 1996, Niles (1997) highlighted issues falling into 11 categories: (1) career development theory; (2) individual and group counselling skills; (3) individual and group assessment; (4) information and resources; (5) program promotion, management, and 67 implementation; (6) coaching, consultation, and performance improvement; (7) diverse populations; (8) supervision; (9) ethical and legal issues; (10) research and evaluation; and (11) technology. Likewise, the annual review of 2003 by Dagley and Salter (2004) highlighted issues falling into six categories: (1) professional issues; (2) career assessment; (3) career development; (4) career development theory; (5) career interventions; and (6) technology in career development. Similar categories or themes were highlighted in the other six annual reviews. Those articles addressing individuals' needs tended to focus on special populations (e.g., ethnic groups, at risk groups, women, etc.), the unemployed, adolescents, and people at the point of entry to the workforce, especially the high school or university to work transition, as discussed below. 2.8.3 Some Common Themes in the Career Counselling Literature A number of themes common to the career counselling and development literature became evident as a result of the reviews just described. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list; only those themes that were thought might be useful to the current study are discussed below. First, wellness and mattering, which include family/work balance, have been discussed in the literature (Amundson, 2003; Connolly & Myers, 2003; Hansen, 2001; Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 2001). Wellness is defined as "the process and state of a quest for maximum human functioning that involves the mind, body, and spirit" (Archer, Probert, & Gage, 1987, as cited by Connolly & Myers, 2003, p. 153). In business, wellness has focused almost entirely on physical well-being and has for the most part ignored the other two components (Connolly & Myers, 2003). 68 Mattering is defined as beliefs people have that they matter to someone else, that they are important and needed by others, and that what they have to say is listened to and appreciated by others (Amundson, 2003; Connolly & Myers, 2003). It was posited that workers in the current study who self-reported as doing well might have a sense of mattering and an appropriate work/life balance. Second, skills training or upgrading and assessments/appraisals form a large part of the work done in career counselling, (e.g., Aquilanti & Leroux, 1999; Gysbers et al., 2003; Herr et al., 2004; Niles, 1996; Rudd & Strong, 1997; Zunker, 2002). Much of the literature focused on training for specific populations (e.g., W. L. Abbott, 1979; Food and Beverage Workers Union, 1992; LaFleur, 1990; Miles, 1980; Pont, 1995; Smith, 1998; R. A. Thompson, 1998). The outplacement counselling literature discussed the importance of skills training for people facing unexpected unemployment, focusing almost exclusively on job search skills such as resume writing, interview training, marketing, networking, etc. (J. L. Kirk, 1994; Wooten, 1996; Zunker, 2002). Mastie (1996) suggested competency testing was an important component of career assessment. In that context, competency refers to the level of skill a person has in performing a particular task. The psychological construct of competence refers to "a state of being as well as to a state of doing ... A competent person is one who has the capacity (or power) to deal adequately with emerging situations" (Amundson, 2003, p. 265). This differs from the HR/business use of the term "competencies" (which will be discussed shortly) in that it relates to a psychological state of readiness and capacity rather than mastery of a particular task or knowledge skill that meet the specific job needs of an organization. It was 69 anticipated the concept of competence might emerge from the results of the current study as contributing to people's ability to thrive. Third, the importance of action plans or action planning has been discussed in the literature (e.g., Amundson, 1995; D. Beauchesne & Belzile, 1995; Borgen, 1997; Borgen & Maglio, 2004). The message in these and other articles was the importance of people taking action, either to engage in the counselling process or to set plans in motion for seeking new employment. Again, it was thought this concept might be of interest for the results of the current study. Fourth, much of the literature is devoted to the experience of special populations, including adolescents, older workers, university students, at-risk individuals, the unemployed, people with disabilities, people who are gay/lesbian/ transgendered, and those from specific cultures, etc. (e.g., Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Blankertz et al., 2005; Borgen & Amundson, 1984, 2000; Borgen et al., 2002; Kennedy & Harris, 2003; J. J. Kirk & Belovics, 2005; Pope et al., 2004; Scott & Mallinckrodt, 2005; Simon & Osipow, 1996; S. L. Turner, Steward, & Lapan, 2004; Yost & Lucas, 2002). Of these, Borgen and Amundson's studies (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Borgen & Amundson, 1984; Borgen et al., 2002) that charted the emotional experiences of people who were unemployed were of some interest to the present study given that the "emotional roller coaster" (Borgen & Amundson, 1987) might in some ways be a counterpoint to the experiences of employed people who were doing well with changes affecting their work. Fifth, the concept of self-efficacy has been applied to career exploration and decision-making (Betz & Voyten, 1997; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). Based on 70 Bandura's work (1982), self-efficacy centres on the sense people have of their ability to produce an effect. According to Bandura, self-efficacy beliefs are "concerned with judgments of how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations" (p. 122). He goes on to say that "self-efficacy judgments, whether accurate or faulty, influence choice of activities and environmental settings" (p. 123), and they also "determine how much effort people will expend and how long they will persist in the face of obstacles or aversive experiences" (p. 123). Lent and colleagues (1994) applied this to career by positing that people have three characteristics that drive their behaviour: self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals. According to Betz and Voyten (1997), "self-efficacy refers to beliefs in competencies with respect to the behaviors necessary in a particular career-relevant domain. Outcome expectations involve beliefs in the consequences of performing given behaviors" (p. 180). Efficacy and outcome expectations must be distinguished "because 'correct' performance does not always lead to the desired outcome" (p. 180). Although the research on career development and self-efficacy has been conducted almost entirely on college students, there is a fairly consistent relationship between self-efficacy and career considerations (Herr et al., 2004). Sixth is the concept of personal agency, which is characterized in the career literature by "autonomy, independence, initiative, and adaptation" (Littleton, Arthur, & Rousseau, 2000, p. 109). These authors point out that much of the career counselling literature embraces this concept through a fundamental belief that people are ultimately responsible for their own careers and personal/professional development, which tends to discount the impact of environmental factors on 71 people's career decisions and professional development. Also related is the concept of locus of control, which has to do with the degree to which a person believes he or she has control over the outcomes of one's life (Rotter, 1966, as discussed in Lemme, 1999). Individuals with an internal locus of control tend to believe that control over life's outcomes resides within themselves, whereas individuals with an external locus of control tend to believe that control over life's outcomes resides outside of them and is governed by fate, luck, chance, other people, and other external factors. As Gysbers, Heppner and Johnston (2003) point out, what is most often espoused by the career counselling discipline is an internal locus of control and a personal responsibility philosophy, which tends to discount the impact of systems and the environment on the individual. > Seventh, in recent years the career counselling and personal counselling literature have been discussing the convergence of personal and career counselling (e.g., Krumboltz, 1993; Lewis, 2001). Herr, Cramer and Niles (2004) summarized much of the literature discussing the similarities and differences between personal and career counselling. What appeared as an emerging consensus is that they are not mutually exclusive, but rather exist on a continuum of counselling services that are provided depending on the focus of the client's presenting problem. This perspective was also supported by Gysbers, Heppner and Johnston (2003), who stated that career counselling possesses the same essential characteristics and follows the same basic process as do all forms of counselling, and that career counselling engages emotions and feelings as well as thoughts or skill development. Finally, much of the literature focused on the various transition issues 72 associated with entering the workforce from school or university, leaving the workforce at retirement or due to unexpected unemployment, and returning to the workforce after extended unemployment (Borgen & Amundson, 1995, 2000; Butterfield & Borgen, 2005; Harper & Shoffner, 2004; Hayes, 1997; E. B. Lent, 2001; D. L McDonald, 2002; Strowig, Page-Stadler, & Hampton, 2005). As discussed in more detail at the end of this chapter, the career transition literature has cited transition models (e.g., Bridges, 1991; Schlossberg, Waters, & Goodman, 1995) as useful tools for helping people at these traditional transition points understand and deal with their situation. Other researchers have explored the life-stage transitions that often accompany, but are not necessarily linked to, work transitions (e.g., Stephens, 1994). More recently, a few researchers have begun addressing transition issues facing workers in a changing environment in general (e.g., Borgen, 1997), and survivors of downsizing more specifically (e.g., Amundson et al., 2004). Another recent article discussed transition issues facing people who are unemployed or who are employed and dealing with unexpected job transition or job insecurity as a result of organizational restructuring (Maglio, Butterfield, & Borgen, 2005). Within this research, some of the items cited as helpful during transitions included support from friends and family, feeling valued, counselling to deal with emotional reactions, having a purpose, being heard or listened to, training or retraining, support groups, having a positive outlook, and physical activity. Given the indicators that constant change is not only here to stay but will likely increase, and that the majority of workers are struggling with it; and given the recognition in the career counselling literature that change is affecting every aspect 73 of people's lives, including work, it was surprising to find so little literature dealing with this subject and the workers who are affected by it. Despite the lack of research on the population of interest in the current study, there have been some calls from career counselling scholars for new counselling models that address the needs of contemporary workers. 2.8.4 Calls for New Career Counselling Models Gelatt's (1989; 1992) positive uncertainty philosophy offered a strategy for decision-making to replace the old counselling frame of reference, which he stated is no longer effective. Gelatt also proposed that chaos theory might provide a useful framework for psychologists to help their clients "reconcile our desire for order and security and the current state of chaos and turbulence" (1995, p. 109). While he put these philosophies forward as starting points for helping clients to deal with change and ambiguity, in both cases he suggested the "counseling profession ought to take the lead in continuing to explore this arena with new and creative research and theory development" (1992, p. 255). However, to date no such theory development appears to have emerged. Much of the career counselling literature focused on the new turbulence in organizations and the resulting insecurity being faced by many workers. Given the organizational instability experienced by individuals and the resultant impact it has on their careers, Krumboltz (1998a) suggested it was time for counsellors to review their actions and modify them according to the needs of an increasingly diverse and complex workforce. According to Krumboltz, and supported by Axmith (1997), a new career is emerging that is characterized by fragmentation, self-employment, 74 lifelong learning, lateral moves from one occupation to another, increased frequency of occupational shifts, and planning for a future shrouded in uncertainty. This reality is reflected in the emergence of new types of careers, as discussed above (e.g., M. B. Arthur & Rousseau, 1996; Hall, 1996). Krumboltz offered six recommendations for career counsellors to be successful in dealing with clients struggling in this new career environment: (1) the goal of career counselling should be to help people create satisfying lives for themselves; (2) counsellors should advocate the wisdom of open-mindedness, not decisiveness; (3) career counsellors should assume a broad role in dealing with client concerns; (4) unplanned events should be seen as an inevitable and desirable aspect in everyone's career; (5) career counsellors should teach clients to create potentially beneficial chance events; and (6) increased learning and life satisfaction should become the outcome measures of career counselling success. The focus of the article was on counsellor competencies and actions when dealing with the complexities of individuals rather than on offering a new approach to counselling aimed at helping clients become more self-sufficient or increase their ability to do well in the face of change. While these elements would likely make counselling interventions more effective, they stop short of providing a new counselling approach. Other researchers have offered different counselling strategies (e.g., Gelatt, 1995; Holm & Hovland, 1999), but they were aimed at assisting unemployed or displaced workers in dealing with ambiguity and the unstable environment they faced rather than the needs of mainstream workers. Herr has written extensively about the influence of technology, political and economic alliances, and the sweeping changes they were expected to and have 75 engendered (Herr, 1993a, 1993b; 1999). He suggested there was a need for personal flexibility in the 21s t century global economy, which is consistent with Axmith's (1997) contention that flexibility would be a key competency for workers. The flexibility characteristics Herr described include basic academic skills; adaptive, transfer, mobility, and learning skills; and entrepreneurial skills (1993a). These skills closely match the employability skills profile published by the Conference Board of Canada (McLaughlin, 1992), which are still in use today by employers and career counsellors. In his book about counselling in the 21st century, Herr (1999) described in detail the changing contexts in which people are living and working, and firmly placed people in the context of their environments - the context needs to be understood in order to understand the person's experience in a holistic way. He discussed at length the counselling needs of special populations, including adults, people with disabilities, ethnic groups, the poor and homeless, older adults, women, and the special risks inherent at transition points. However, other than including the workplace in a list of settings where counselling has some utility, and mentioning the existence of EAPs for workers, he did not discuss the needs of mainstream women and men working within these constantly changing environments. He talked about the changing paradigm for counselling practice, future challenges for counselling, including the expectation of a "high-risk and high-stress society" (p. 332), and the emergence of the positive psychology movement. What appeared to be missing was the experience of workers in mainstream jobs, what they might need in the way of counselling assistance, and how counsellors might provide that assistance. Scores of career counselling books have been written in an attempt to assist 76 people who are unemployed, struggling with work place change, or who want to change careers (e.g., Bolles, 1996; J. F. Kirk, 1996; Loehr & Schwartz, 2003; Sinetar, 1995). These are essentially self-help books that implore people to be curious, excited, engaged, and energized by the dynamic opportunities afforded by the changes they face. They offer technical and social skills training tips intended to help people who are struggling to prepare for and manage change. What these books do not address is why some people are struggling while others are doing well in this environment. Kirk (1996) pointed out several times that although some people are thriving, many more are not. She asked the question: why are some people having such difficulty planning and managing their careers, while others are doing just fine? She concluded that we do not know. Contrary to these books that focused on what was not working and that attempted to remedy it, the current study focused on what is working in an attempt to shed light on Kirk's question. 2.8.5 Career Resilience, Self-reliance, and Self-management Given the changing nature of the career/work environment, the concepts of career resilience, career self-reliance, and career self-management have been discussed in the literature. These were mentioned briefly when discussing the career counselling literature review results but are further elaborated upon here. Career resilience has been variously defined as (1) a group of employees "who are not only dedicated to the idea of continuous learning but also stand ready to reinvent themselves to keep pace with change; who take responsibility for their own career management; and . . . who are committed to the company's success" (Waterman, Waterman, & Collard, 1994, p. 88); (2) as individual career development (Brown, 77 1996); (3) as a relationship in which the employer and the employee share responsibility for maintaining the individual's employability inside and outside the company (Griffith, 1998); (4) as someone who is self-sufficient, adapts to change easily, engages in upgrading knowledge on a continuous basis, and is responsible for managing his or her own career ("How to...become career-resilient," 2004); and (5) as continuous employability, which is one component of the new psychological contract between workers and employers ("Enhancing career resilience: The new „. psychological contract," 2000). While these all described career resilience, and some suggested steps a person might take to become career resilient, they were not geared towards workers who were handling change well, nor did they provide assistance or counselling interventions for those who were not doing well and likely needed more than mastery of career resilience tasks to begin doing well. Brown (1996) defined career self-reliance as individual career self-management, and King (2001) described career self-management as "deployment by an individual of behavioral strategies intended to exert a controlling influence over his or her career outcomes" (p. 3). These concepts have in common assumptions of ongoing organizational change, an active change in behaviour by the individual, and a shift of responsibility from the employer to the employee for planning a person's career and taking the necessary steps to ensure the plan is carried out. These assumptions were echoed by Krumboltz (1998a). Grzeda took these ideas and expanded them to suggest a new construct called career motivation, which he described as "an individual-level construct consisting of three dimensions: (a) career resilience, the ability to overcome career setbacks; (b) career insight, the extent to 78 which the individual has realistic career perceptions; and (c) career identity, factors reflecting career decisions and behaviours" (Grzeda, 1999, p. 235). These concepts are useful, but they describe the end-state and do not include strategies that enable individuals to develop resilience, self-reliance, or self-management. 2.8.6 New Directions for Career Counselling The common theme among many of the researchers discussed above is that there is a need for career counselling and the concept of career to take a new direction in light of the increased uncertainty people are facing within the context of a constantly changing societal and work environment (Borgen, 1997). This was underscored by Collin and Young (2000a; 2000b) in their recent look at the concept of career and the stated need for new ways to assist people in all stages of their working lives to understand and manage their careers. This was also highlighted in a recent special issue of The Career Development Quarterly that looked at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by the career counselling and development discipline. In the introduction and analysis of the special issue, Savickas (2003a; 2003b) recognized the changes affecting workers and commented that the collapse of hierarchical organizational structures had triggered the need for career development and counselling theories to be renovated so they are more holistic and take people's environments into account. It is also consistent with international issues being looked at in vocational psychology that place the self, personal, family, and career realms within a context of uncertain work and social environments (W. Borgen, personal communication, August 23, 2005). The current study was intended to begin eliciting more about the environment of change in which 79 mainstream employees are working and their subjective experiences of it, and to take into account the wholeness of each person as they shared their stories of what helped and hindered their ability to do well in the face of change. 2.9 Vocational Psychology Literature Chapter One presented Savickas' (2001a) definition of vocational psychology. In addition, Savickas (2001b) also offered a proposed mission for vocational psychology in the next decade: Vocational psychology, a specialty within applied psychology, conducts research on vocational behavior among all groups of workers, at each life stage, in order to advance knowledge, improve career interventions, and inform social policy. It is characterized by innovative theorizing to comprehend the diversity of human experience and the changing world of work; the use of diverse epistemologies and research strategies; an emphasis on programmatic and longitudinal studies; and the translation of research findings into models, methods, and materials for career education and intervention, (p. 286) In concert, the definition and this proposed mission for vocational psychology are important because of their focus on the individual, on work adjustment, on understanding the experience of all groups of workers at all stages of their careers, and because of the invitation to use innovative and diverse research strategies in order to understand workers' experiences more holistically. Given this orientation to the individual, I had expected to find numerous articles on the individual psychological impact of the changing nature of work, but in fact found only a few references to it that are discussed below. A literature search in the psychology, education, and business databases using the key words "vocational psychology and resilience", "vocational psychology and hardiness", and "vocational 80 psychology and doing well" yielded no results. Although the current study was not intended to focus on either resilience or hardiness, it was thought these terms might be used in the vocational psychology literature to denote workers who were doing well. Likewise, a review of articles in the Journal of Vocational Behavior for the period February 1994 through to September 2005 and those currently in press, did not garner any articles addressing the impact of change on contemporary workers. One article (Patterson, 2001) included a short section on the psychological impact of the changing nature of work. She cited the impact of globalization and the use of technology as being responsible for much of the change facing today's workforce, listing the four key concerns for organizations and the work force as job insecurity, extended work hours, reduced control at work, and managerial stress. However, the article did not address how best to help workers deal with these changes, rather it stated that these changes provided plenty of opportunities for work psychologists (a term that appears to be used interchangeably with vocational psychologists in the literature). She did, however, state that work psychology has played a significant role in the formulation of government policy and current legislation in relation to occupational stress. This article did not mention or address the substantive issues facing today's workers as a result of change. Instead, it appeared to celebrate the accomplishments of work psychologists and to welcome the opportunities these uncertain times offer practitioners in this discipline. Collin and Young's (2000b) book, The Future of Career, took a multidisciplinary look at the major changes affecting the world of work and how those changes challenged the traditional concept of career. Although it provided a history 81 of the concept of career, examined the changing contexts in which careers now exist, offered new perspectives about career, and explored new directions for career theory, practice and policy, it did not examine the lived experiences of workers facing these constant changes in their everyday work environment or the impacts of i these changes on them. This book struck me as a wonderful resource to help practitioners reconceptualize their understanding of career and assist their clients in embracing different frames of reference with regard to career, but it did not directly address the questions of interest in the current study. In a recent edition of the Handbook of Counseling Psychology, Swanson and Gore (2000) made the point that in the past vocational psychologists were, by definition, applied psychologists. An implication of this is that research often did not keep pace with practice. While they acknowledged that the very nature of the workforce is changing (citing increased diversity, part-time vs. full-time workers, contingency/contract workers vs. employees) and that the impact of technology has been tremendous in terms of rendering individuals' skills obsolete and requiring extensive retraining, their review of theory and research pertaining to vocational psychology suggested that both research and practice trail behind reality. Specific observations about underlying assumptions and gaps in the research will be discussed in detail shortly. Suffice it to say here that their review focused on existing career theories (e.g., Super, Holland, Gottfredson, Theory of Work Adjustment, and Social Cognitive Career Theory), without addressing in any significant way the changing context in which these theories were being applied. They did consider special issues pertaining to gender, race/ethnicity, and gay/lesbian/ bisexual 82 populations, but not the larger context and the radical changes that mainstream workers are facing in many areas of their lives. Perhaps most disturbing was the apparent lack of understanding that the future they were forecasting in 2000 -technology impacts, downsizings, mergers, acquisitions, increases in contingent workforces, telecommuting, struggles to balance work versus other life roles - was already upon many workers and had been for more than a decade. The future is not tomorrow; the future as envisioned by these writers is already here and workers already have a history of trying to deal with it. I have had the opportunity to witness these realities first hand in my various HR management roles spanning several different industries, as well as experiencing them personally over the past decade. Swanson and Gore (2000) concluded their chapter with the observation that "extant theories of career development were formulated at a time when job tenure was commonplace - when it was a desirable outcome. A theory's responsiveness to changes in the outcomes valued by individuals in society may determine its continued survival" (p. 258). After reading this vocational psychology review, I was left with concerns about its future viability as a discipline if it is claiming that much of its ongoing success rests upon continuing to be responsive to changes in society. There was little in the chapter to suggest vocational psychology research was keeping pace with the current working reality of many women and men. Experts in the discipline share this concern. In the 2001 30 th anniversary issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior, 10 leading researchers in the vocational psychology field were invited to submit articles on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing their discipline, and to create a vision for its future. 83 The remainder of this section highlights the gaps in vocational psychology as articulated by the invited authors, the underlying assumptions I observed in their approaches, and the apparent disconnect I observed between theory and research in both the career counselling and vocational psychology literature. I will begin with the underlying assumptions. 2.9.1 Assumptions in the Vocational Psychology Literature First, it struck me as I read the 13 articles in the special issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior that two of the most prominent theories in vocational psychology, namely those of Holland (Holland, 1985; Holland & Gottfredson, 1976) and Super (Super, 1977, 1980), were based on the underlying assumption that people work for job satisfaction and to express their self-concepts. Yet Blustein (2001a) pointed out that one of the weaknesses of current vocational psychology is that the majority of people work in order to secure a place to live and put food on the table-they are working for survival, not for self-expression or self-actualization. I support Blustein's observation as it reflects my experience in the last 15 years as an HR professional. Another assumption underlying much of vocational psychology is that educated, white-collar workers have unlimited opportunities and control of their work-related destiny. They do not - or at least in my experience they do not. My observations of individuals and their careers over the past decade, as a result of my extensive involvement in a number of major recruitment and selection, downsizing, and organizational development initiatives, is that the constantly changing work place and instability in most areas of people's lives has taken away much of their sense of control over their careers. Most people I observed were not making work 84 choices based on a desire to express their self-concepts or according to a set path they had chosen. They were working at jobs in order to keep their heads above water, and accepted jobs that were offered to them because not to do so would result in their employment being terminated. This observation appears to be supported by Blustein, who also challenged this underlying assumption. Second, it appeared that eight of the 10 vocational psychology researchers assumed that technology has been the major driver of work place change, indeed of changes in most spheres of life (e.g., Hesketh, 2001). While I agree that technology is one of the drivers of change, I believe this is too narrow an explanation of the forces responsible for the unstable environments in which many people are working. Lent (2001) provided a more thorough assessment of the drivers of change, including an aging and increasingly diverse workforce, advances in technology, increases in demands for family-friendly employment policies, concerns over pollution, and corporate downsizings and mergers. This is more consistent with the business literature's view of what is driving change, as discussed above. Two things troubled me about the stance of these vocational psychologists with respect to what is driving change. First, as already mentioned, it is too narrow and does not address the impact of the other drivers of change. This observation was supported by Vondracek (2001). Second, although Lent takes a broader view of the forces causing ongoing change, he takes a future view of the matter - he is forecasting that this is what will come at some point in the future. Neither he nor the other researchers acknowledged that workers are facing constant change and unstable environments today, and have been for many years. 85 Third, Hesketh (2001) suggested training as the solution to keeping the workforce abreast with the pace of change (I notice an inconsistency here, since most of the researchers conceived of change as coming some time in the future, yet they advocated training now as the solution). While I agree that maintaining one's skills in the face of changing technology is important in order to remain employable, I do not believe that training alone is sufficient to address the myriad issues facing workers today. Perhaps this solution is offered as a result of the previous assumption, that the introduction of new technology is the impetus behind most of the changes experienced by workers. As previously stated, technology is not the only reason change is occurring that affects people's work; there are other drivers in play that also affect the pace and type of change. In my professional experience, ongoing training can result in employee fatigue and information overload, and the inability to assimilate large amounts of new material. It was hoped the current study might shed light on the extent to which training helps or hinders, or whether workers dealing well with change might welcome other types of help. Fourth, related to Lent's (2001) viewpoint that change affecting individuals will be an issue in the future, there seemed to be an underlying assumption on the part of many vocational psychologists that an accelerated pace of change was inevitable in the future, that lines between work and non-work would become blurred in the future, and that the new economy was something to be anticipated some time in the future (R. W. Lent, 2001; Russell, 2001). The common theme in these assumptions was that these things were not already happening - they seemed to imply that workers were not currently experiencing change, the lines between work and non-86 work were not already blurred, and that the new economy was not yet upon us. This, and the other assumptions mentioned above, may be contributing to some of the gaps observed by vocational psychologists, to which I now turn my attention. 2.9.2 Gaps in the Vocational Psychology Literature I was impressed by the candour of the vocational psychologists whose articles I read. Although they were invited to discuss both strengths and weaknesses, almost without exception they had more to say about vocational psychology's weaknesses, perhaps seeing it as an opportunity to shape the future of the discipline. Whatever their motives, the major gaps in the practice of vocational psychology as seen by contributors to the special issue are discussed next. I will comment on them following the list. First, the research focus has traditionally been on a small proportion of people, namely white-collar, well-educated workers (Blustein, 2001a) or college-bound students (Fouad, 2001; Tinsley, 2001). Second, how the realm of work interfaces with other aspects of human behaviour and development has not been addressed (Blustein, 2001b). Third, vocational psychology has become isolated from mainstream psychology and is in danger of losing its credibility as a discipline (Blustein, 2001a; Hesketh, 2001; R. W. Lent, 2001). Fourth, with an almost exclusive focus on quantitative research, the ecological validity of research findings is questionable as the research questions become narrower, more controlled, and less relevant to clinical practice or people's everyday experiences (Blustein, 2001a; Subich, 2001; Walsh, 2001). Fifth, the focus of research has been on marginalized groups, such as the 87 poor, the handicapped, women, and those perceived as having limited opportunities. There has been no research to date on the many women and men in every stage of their careers who are facing constant change in many areas of their lives, the group of people of interest in the current study. Related to this is that no preventive, developmental interventions for these marginalized groups have been developed (Blustein, 2001a). I would hazard a guess it may be equally true that no preventive, developmental interventions have been developed for mainstream workers, either. This was alluded to but not explicitly stated (Fouad, 2001; R. W. Lent, 2001). Sixth, vocational psychology has not met the need of people to lead more satisfying work lives (Blustein, 2001a). Related to this, and conspicuous by its absence, was the fact that how people are dealing with change and its impact on their work lives was not listed in any of the articles as a current area of investigation in vocational psychology. Several researchers did, however, identify this as a future area of inquiry (Betz, 2001; Fouad, 2001; Savickas, 2001a; Tinsley, 2001; Vondracek, 2001). Seventh, little or no research has been conducted on the impact of information technology on work and its organization, and hence on careers (Hesketh, 2001; Vondracek, 2001). Related to this is another gap - vocational psychology is apparently not currently acknowledging the importance of work self-management, nor is it helping clients address social needs previously provided by work (Hesketh, 2001). Eighth, there is a lack of an organizing framework to help people within the vocational psychology field (Hesketh, 2001; Savickas, 2001b; Walsh, 2001). Related to this gap is another that was mentioned, namely the lack of new theories arising from the changing work context to assist people in dealing with 88 a shifting landscape (Hesketh, 2001; Russell, 2001). Ninth, little or no research appears to exist that deals with understanding career adjustment subsequent to a person's initial entry into his or her career (R. W. Lent, 2001; Sullivan, Martin, Carden, & Mainiero, 2003). Even though one of the main underpinnings of Super's (1980) life-span theory is lifelong career development and the need to support individuals at all stages in their careers, the focus of attention appears to have been almost exclusively on college-bound high school students and people at the point of entry to their careers (Fouad, 2001; R. W. Lent, 2001; Russell, 2001; Tinsley, 2001; Vondracek, 2001). Little or no attention appears to have been paid to the needs of people in mid- or late-career, despite the growing numbers of workers facing unexpected career decisions at these stages. I believe this becomes important in light of ongoing organizational development initiatives, acquisitions, mergers, new product introductions, downsizings, and corporate culture changes, all of which have the potential to continually disrupt people from their current jobs, especially those in mid- or late-career. It is also important given the past tendency to view people who "recycle" (which refers to re-examining and changing career paths at any career stage) as being nonadaptive, and career change as being detrimental to climbing the corporate ladder (Sullivan et al., 2003). Sullivan and her colleagues further pointed out that little is known about "recyclers" because they were considered to be outside the norm. I suggest they are no longer outside the norm, and may in fact constitute the majority of workers today. Tenth, consistent with vocational psychology's definition, research has focused almost exclusively on the individual. However, that means the contexts or 89 environments in which the individual lives and works, and social supports or barriers that affect the individual, have not been studied (R. W. Lent, 2001; Russell, 2001). Lastly, life-cycle disruptions are not currently being addressed, but are seen as an appropriate focus for future research (Vondracek, 2001). To this list I would add one additional gap not mentioned in the vocational psychology literature but which struck me when reading both the career counselling and vocational psychology articles. According to many researchers (e.g., Betz, 2001; Luzzo & MacGregor, 2001; Walsh, 2001; Whiston & Brecheisen, 2002), Holland's theory about P-E fit is the most widely used and heavily researched vocational theory and career choice model. Yet it strikes me that changes affecting people and their work are constantly undermining the P-E fit within organizations, which ties in with the social psychology and organizational culture literature already discussed. However, the literature and current counselling models appear to give, little or no attention to the effects of these changes on the P-E fit and their psychological impacts on individual workers. 2.9.3 Relevance of these Gaps and Assumptions to the Current Study The current study was intended to begin addressing a number of gaps in the current vocational psychology literature. First, the vocational psychology literature appeared to focus only on people at the entry point of their careers, whereas the current study interviewed workers at different stages of their careers. Second, the vocational psychology literature anticipated that change was something to be dealt with in the future, that the major cause of change is technology, and that training would be helpful in keeping workers abreast with the pace of change. The current 90 study asked workers about their experience of change today, thus perhaps better informing researchers about the nature and causes of change that were experienced by these participants. Although training was not specifically asked about, participants were free to mention it as a helping or hindering item if applicable. Third, the current study asked workers to describe their experiences of change, in any aspect of their lives, which impacted their work. It was hoped their responses would contribute to our knowledge about the interface between work and other spheres of people's lives. Fourth, the current study was qualitative and exploratory in nature, thus it was hoped the results would be of value in clinical practice as well as suggest new areas of research. Fifth, the current study interviewed workers who were doing well when faced with change. This group of individuals appears not to have been included in recent vocational psychology research and it was hoped the current study would therefore shed light on their current experiences of change. Sixth, the results from the current study were expected to furnish missing information about workers' experiences with change that, when combined with other research results, might contribute to the foundation of a preventive, developmental approach to career and vocational counselling, something that seems to be missing in the vocational psychology agenda. Finally, the current study was expected to shed light on some of the social supports or barriers that help and hinder individuals in dealing well with change. 2.10 Other Relevant Scholarly Literature This final section of the literature review covers a number of other ideas, 91 models, and concepts that provided both a backdrop and support material for the current study. First, Bronfenbrenner's (1976; 1977) human ecology model was initially intended to provide a way of defining human development and approaching educational research. It advocated that the person, the environment, and the relationship between them be conceptualized in terms of systems, and subsystems within systems. While this approach changed the way education research was conducted, it also provided an important reminder that individuals could not be fully i understood without taking into account the systems in which they lived and without realizing that these systems overlap and influence one another as well as the individual. It was hoped data from the current study would shed light on the extent to which changes in other areas of participants' lives affected their work, and whether helping and hindering strategies in one domain were applicable in others. Second, theories of work motivation are an important aspect of management training and the way in which work is designed and conducted in business. Herzberg's two-factor theory of job satisfaction (Herzberg, 1966; Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959), which posited that unfulfilled hygiene needs (company policies and administration, supervision, relationship with supervisor, salary, work conditions, relationship with peers, etc.) lead to job dissatisfaction, and that fulfilled motivator needs lead to job satisfaction, may be helpful in interpreting the results of the current study. Although the focus was not on motivation or job satisfaction, it was thought that the motivator factors or satisfiers such as achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement might be related to change and the helpful and hindering factors reported by participants. Despite the methodological issues 92 associated with Herzberg's theory (see Foster, 2000 for a summary), there has been a recent resurgence of interest in this theory and its relevance for understanding the complex interactions between work and individuals, especially in the HR and business literature (Furnham, Forde, & Ferrari, 1999; Herzberg, 2003). Because Herzberg's theory is closely aligned with Maslow's (1970) theory of motivation and personality and there may be a relationship between ongoing change and failure of basic needs being met, it was thought that his theory might help conceptualize the findings of the current study. Third, deCharms' (1968) personal causation theory, used to increase motivation in school children but actually a basic supposition about human nature, might be a helpful concept for interpreting the results of the current study. According to deCharms, "Man's primary motivational propensity is to be effective in producing changes in his environment" (1968, p. 269). This is taken to be a basic assumption; underlying it is an even more basic assumption: "the ground of human experience is to effect change in the environment, to take intentional action, to be a locus of causality" (Ross, 1997, p. 55). Ross goes on to summarize deCharms, Personal causation involves self-awareness as well as intentional action; it is the personal knowledge of being an agent of change in the environment. A person experiences personal causation when he or she understands the locus of causality for an act to be within themselves, (p. 55) The Origin-Pawn concept arose from these assumptions. It was intended to be a simple way of expressing the concept of personal causation. "An origin is a person who feels that he is in control of his fate; he feels that the cause of his behavior is within himself (deCharms, 1976, p. 4). In essence, origins seek their own goals and initiate their own behaviours. deCharms described a pawn as someone who feels 93 he or she is at the mercy of others, "who perceives his behavior as determined by external forces beyond his control" (deCharms, 1968, pp. 273-274). It was thought the Origin-Pawn concept might be useful for interpreting the helping and hindering incidents obtained in the current study. Fourth, Bridges' (1991) transition model of endings, neutral zone, and new beginnings is helpful but simplistic when dealing with the complexities being faced by working women and men. Perhaps the primary contribution of this approach is helping individuals normalize their emotions by putting them into a process context, thereby taking some of the fear and confusion out of what they are experiencing. However, it is essentially a remedial rather than preventive or developmental approach, helping people deal with difficult changes and painful emotions after the fact. Schlossberg's (1990; Schlossberg et al., 1995) transition model may be useful since it encompassed coping responses, the importance of understanding the context in which the change occurred, and the impact of change on one's daily life. It also discussed the importance of taking stock of one's resources, taking charge, and having control. Her model has the added benefit of dealing directly with the special requirements of facing unanticipated changes, which describes the daily realities of many adults in today's work environment. As was the case for Bridges' model, it takes a remedial or reactive stance rather than a preventive, self-sufficient approach to dealing with ongoing uncertainty and change. It was thought one or both of these models might inform the results of the current study, or that the results might shed light on the utility of these models for workers. Fifth, the concept of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995) looked at the 94 importance of having "self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself (p. xii) as key abilities contributing to emotional well-being. Goleman advocated that these abilities be taught to children and to adults who lack them. He discussed the importance of optimism, hope, flow, interpersonal intelligence (which he defined as being able to organize groups, negotiate solutions, personally connect with people, and engage in social analysis), and the application of emotional intelligence to the workplace. It has been suggested by others (e.g., Donaldson-Feilder & Bond, 2004) that emotional intelligence affects worker well-being and work performance. It was anticipated that some of these concepts might help interpret the data obtained in the current study. Sixth, the HR management literature has recently begun discussing the role of spirituality in the workplace (e.g., Marques, 2005; S. Miller & Whyte, 2005). It is a touchy subject, often couched in terms of work-life balance and values-based business. It is thought by some to be a taboo subject that is intensely personal and belongs at home; others see it as the ultimate competitive advantage because of its potential for increasing productivity by encouraging employees to reach their full potential (Conn, 2005). The consensus of opinion seems to be that supporting spirituality in the workplace is an effective way of ensuring high levels of organizational performance on a sustainable basis (Marques, 2005; S. Miller & Whyte, 2005). A search of the career counselling literature garnered only one article that mentioned spirituality in terms of preventing burnout through personal growth (van Dierendonck et al., 2005), and one article examined clients' existential concerns during unemployment or workplace transition and the impacts of those 95 concerns for contemporary career counselling (Maglio et al., 2005). One existential concern discussed was the search for meaning and purpose, which is not dissimilar to one of the functions spirituality has in people's lives. A search of the counselling literature found 52 articles related to spirituality and counselling, but none appeared to apply to the population of interest. Examples of those articles included one on coping strategies of African American adult survivors of childhood violence, passionately committed psychotherapists, assessing religious and spiritual functioning, and aging women and depression (Bryant-Davis, 2005; Dlugos & Friedlander, 2001; Gatz & Fiske, 2003; Hathaway, Scott, & Garver, 2004). Recent articles in the psychology literature discussed the new research being conducted linking spirituality, religion, and health (e.g., D. J. McCormick, 2004; W. R. Miller & Thoresen, 2003; Richmond, 2004; Salsman, Brown, Brechting, & Carlson, 2005; Seeman, Dubin, & Seeman, 2003), and the place of spirituality in positive psychology (McLafferty & Kirylo, 2001a, 2001b; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), but again they were not specific to the population of interest for the current study. Seventh, boundary issues have received attention in the psychology literature. Boundaries are the invisible lines that exist between each individual, system, or subsystem and its outside surroundings (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 1995). These cognitive and emotional barriers help set limits in relationships, work, and in life in general to protect us and to distinguish our experiences from others'. The importance of boundaries is often discussed in the contexts of family and systems therapy (Corey, 1996), and in terms of counselling professionals being aware of boundary issues and maintaining clear boundaries with clients (Cormier & 96 Hackney, 2005). A search of the career counselling literature databases for articles about boundaries elicited several hundred references. The career counselling literature recognizes there are physical boundaries as well as emotional, relational, spiritual, and sexual boundaries that place limits around what is appropriate and safe (Marshall, 2001), and the impact of our constantly changing environment on those boundary issues (Amundson, 2002). The psychology and counselling literature appear to agree that part of psychological health lies in having well-maintained boundaries, and they also appear to recognize the role the environment plays in establishing and maintaining boundaries. Eighth, cognitive therapy discusses internal schemas or cognitive set as a way of organizing the world. Schemas "consist of the individual's fundamental beliefs and assumptions r..[that] influence the formation of other beliefs, values, and attitudes" (Beck & Weishaar, 1995, p. 237). This is similar in some respects to cognitive appraisal (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1997; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) discussed in the stress and coping literature in that both cognitive appraisal and schemas have to do with the way in which an individual perceives and then reacts to external stimuli or events. It was thought that this population of workers doing well with change might have schemas that enabled them to see the positive, the challenges of the situation and that perhaps they discounted or did not see the negative aspects. Finally, the rapid pace of change also appears to be disrupting the relationships within and between organizational networks (Schuller, 2001), "the norms and networks that facilitate collective action" (Woolcock, 2001, p. 13). These important networks characterize the concept of social capital, a necessary but little 97 appreciated factor of production. Woolcock cited mounting evidence from urban studies, public health and corporate life that suggested people who have well-developed work networks "are more likely to be . . . promoted faster, receive higher salaries, be favorably evaluated by peers, miss fewer days of work, live longer, and be more efficient in completing assigned tasks" (2001 , p. 12). Disrupting these relationship networks is a consequence of ongoing organizational change, likely resulting in increased worker stress. It was expected this concept might be useful for framing the results of the current study. 2.11 Summary of Chapter Two The research question at the heart of the current study is "What helps or hinders workers who successfully navigate and thrive when faced with changes that affect their work worlds?" Based on this review of the literature, it appears there are several gaps that are relevant to the current study. First, while the business and management literature acknowledge the rapid pace of change, and that change is not only upon us, it is accelerating, the career and psychology literature do not appear to have focused their research efforts on studying the impact of this phenomenon. At most they have made reference to it as something that may warrant research in the future. Second, there do not appear to be developmental or preventive approaches to counselling, despite the calls of many researchers for the need of a new framework from which to offer assistance to clients. The majority of research has been geared towards remediation, not prevention. Third, research efforts up to now have been focused on college-bound high school students and 98 individuals at the initial point of entry into a career, with little attention having been paid to the needs of mid-career individuals who are currently working in volatile environments. Fourth, little or no research has been focused on how best to help those workers who are otherwise highly functioning but who are having difficulty dealing with the onslaught of change. The stress and coping research has not yielded useful tools and interventions for clinical practice. Fifth, despite a call by positive psychologists to focus on what is working well for people in order to gain a more holistic understanding, most research to date has taken the disease model approach with a focus on pathology. One exception was the thriving literature, which focused on people who overcame traumatic adverse events. Finally, most research has been quantitative in nature, despite the recognition across disciplines that a broader agenda of research questions and a mix of quantitative and qualitative methodologies are required. The current study was designed to begin addressing some of these gaps by taking a positive psychology approach. It also explored the experiences of a group of workers that has not previously been included in research studies, and utilized a qualitative approach that employed both open-ended questions and the CIT method. 99 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY 3.1 Overview of Chapter Three This chapter describes the methodology used for the current study. It begins with an overview of the study design, followed by the rationale for the methodology used and then details about the CIT. Next is a description of the sampling procedure and of the participants, followed by a description of the data collection procedures. The next section examines the CIT data analysis procedures used. Lastly, the CIT credibility and trustworthiness checks are described and the results of eight of them discussed. Results of the ninth trustworthiness and credibility check are provided in Chapter Five. 3.2 Overview of the Study Design This was primarily a qualitative, exploratory study that used the critical incident technique (Flanagan, 1954) to gather helping and hindering incidents that facilitated or interfered with participants' ability to handle change well. As part of the CIT interview questions, participants were also asked if there were any factors they would have found helpful in dealing well with change or that would have enabled them to deal with change even better. This was designed to elicit items that would go into what has come to be called the "wish list" and is considered to be an innovation to the CIT (Butterfield, 2001; Kemppainen, O'Brien, & Corpuz, 1998). In addition, it utilized open-ended interview questions to gather background and contextual information about participants' current work situation, the changes they 100 experienced in the past six months, and the impacts of those changes (Cozby, 1997; Palys, 1997). Finally, it included an embedded quantitative pretest/posttest research design that asked a pre- and post-interview scaling question to explore whether the interview process itself had an impact on participants (Cozby, 1997; Palys, 1997). Following the contextual, critical incident, and scaling questions, demographic data was collected from all participants to help describe the sample. 3.3 Rationale for the Study Design In contrast to the vocational psychology and stress and coping literature discussed in the previous chapter, the current study took a qualitative CIT and open-ended interview approach in order to address the gaps that were cited in that literature. This was an exploratory, inductive, descriptive, and applied study since it attempted to address an existing situation, which did not arise from a well-formulated theory, with regard to people's ability to handle changes affecting their work lives. The study investigated a group of people that had apparently not been studied up to now, namely working women and men who are handling change well. This research design had several advantages. First, open-ended interviews provided an excellent vehicle for participants to tell in their own words of their experiences with change and the nature of those changes (Cozby, 1997; Palys, 1997). This addressed several other gaps in or criticisms of the literature in that it was intended to provide atheoretical information about the participants' own personal experiences. Second, given the primary purpose of the current study, the CIT appeared to be a good fit because it has been shown to be an effective method of eliciting helping and 101 hindering factors (Flanagan, 1954; Woolsey, 1986). Given that little is known about the factors being used successfully by individuals who aYe handling change well, and the call by advocates of positive psychology to ensure we look at what is working in addition to what is not, this method seemed appropriate and is discussed in detail in the next section. Finally, the pretest/posttest approach used to explore whether the interview itself had any impact was considered appropriate as it is commonly used to assess the impact of an intervention or event (Cozby, 1997; Palys, 1997). Asking the post-interview scaling question at the end of the same interview greatly reduced the potential for intervening factors to affect the posttest scores that is often cited as a difficulty associated with this design. 3.4 The Critical Incident Technique According to Alfonso (1997), the critical incident technique "is designed to generate descriptive and qualitative data of an experience that is still mostly uncharted in the literature" (p. 49). Flanagan (1954) suggested that the CIT "assists in collecting representative samples of data that are directly relevant to important problems such as establishing standards, determining requirements, or evaluating results" (p. 355). Given that little research appears to have been done to determine what strategies are facilitative in dealing with change, the CIT provided an effective means of gathering information and shedding light on the research question. Although Flanagan (1954) developed the CIT from studies in the Aviation Psychology Program of the United States Army Air Force in World War II, a number of researchers have since demonstrated that it is an effective approach for a 102 multitude of studies in a variety of fields. Andersson and Nilsson (1964) employed the CIT in analyzing the jobs of store managers in a Swedish grocery company, concluding, "it would appear justifiable to conclude that information collected by this method is both reliable and valid" (p. 402). The critical incident methodology has been used by researchers in investigating a range of life issues: overcoming depressed moods after an HIV+ diagnosis (Alfonso, 1997); factors that help and hinder in group employment counselling (Amundson & Borgen, 1988); the experience of unemployment (Borgen & Amundson, 1984); the critical incidents in growth groups (A. Cohen & Smith, 1976); the evaluation of the clinical practicum setting (Dachelet et al., 1981); the decision-making process involved in divorce (Proulx, 1991); and the cognitive-emotion process in achievement-related contexts (Weiner, Russell, & Lerman, 1979). In conducting the current study the five steps of a critical incident approach were followed: (1) determine the aim of the activity to be studied; (2) set plans, specifications, and criteria for the information to be obtained; (3) collect data; (4) analyze the thematic content of the data; and (5) report the findings (Flanagan, 1954; Woolsey, 1986). More recently, O'Driscoll and Cooper (1994) advocated the use of the CIT as a technique for examining workplace stress and coping processes. As they pointed out, this methodology has evolved from the technique originally described by Flanagan (1954) that focused almost exclusively on observed job tasks or activities. It has been expanded to capture psychological events as well as personal meaning, and it now entails asking individuals to provide details around three elements: (1) what led up to the incident; (2) their responses to the incident, along with the 103 responses of other people; and (3) the outcome or consequences of both their own and other individuals' behaviours (R. McCormick, 1994; Morley, 2003). This is consistent with the suggestions made by O'Driscoll and Cooper (1994) to include the incident, the context, the helping or hindering strategy, why it was helpful or hindering, and the outcome of the incident (see also L. Anderson & Wilson, 1997; Chell, 1998; Kanyangale & MacLachlan, 1995). The evolution of the CIT from a job task analysis tool to its current use as an effective tool for eliciting psychological events or experiences was chronicled in a recent article (Butterfield, Borgen, Amundson, & Maglio, 2005). According to O'Driscoll and Cooper (1994), the advantages of the CIT are that it links specific strategies that individuals exhibit to the actual change event, it has ecological validity, and the incidents studied are relevant to the participants. It has proved useful in an initial study on stress and coping behaviours at work, which yielded information about problem-focused coping strategies (O'Driscoll & Cooper, 1996), but no follow-up studies have been undertaken since (M. O'Driscoll, personal communication, July 31, 2003) and it has not yet been applied to the population of interest in the current study. Given that little is known about the helpful and hindering strategies of working people who are thriving in the face of change, this combination of free-expression through the open-ended interview that invites individuals to share their experiences of change and gives voice to the nature of changes they have faced, combined with a more structured consideration through the critical incident format of what helps and hinders them in their quest to do well in this environment, appeared to offer the best methods for furthering our 104 understanding about this group of individuals and their lived experiences of change. 3.5 Quantitative Component As just discussed, the primary purpose of this research study was to examine the natural skills or strategies that were being used successfully by employed individuals who were dealing well with changes affecting their work, and a secondary purpose was to garner information about the changes workers were experiencing and how those changes impacted them. The other secondary purpose was to gather information about whether the interview process itself might have an impact on participants' sense of well-being. This interest arose from anecdotal information obtained from participants in previous CIT studies undertaken at the University of British Columbia (e.g., Borgen et al., 2002; Borgen & Maglio, 2004; Butterfield & Borgen, 2005) who stated they felt better, relieved, happier, or had a broader perspective about their experiences following the research interviews. To see if these anecdotal stories could be quantified, a scaling question was asked: "On a scale of 0 - 10, where 0 is doing very poorly, 5 is OK, and 10 is doing very well, where would you place yourself?" This same question was asked at two different points during the interview (Cozby, 1997; Palys, 1997): (1) at the start of the interview immediately prior to the questions about the changes experienced and the impacts of those changes; and (2) at the end of the CIT interview questions. At this point the participants had reflected back upon and talked about the helping, hindering, and wish list factors. If there was a difference in the number reported between the earlier and later scaling questions, the participant was asked, "What's 105 made the difference?" Based on the anecdotal information obtained from the studies cited above, the working hypothesis for this quantitative component of the current research project was that participants would benefit from the experience of sharing their stories with the researcher and this would be reflected by generally higher scores on the second scaling question compared to the first. The specific question of interest was: Is there a statistical difference between the first and second scaling question scores for the participants in the current study? 3.6 Sampling Procedure To be eligible for the study, participants had to meet certain inclusion criteria: (1) they had experienced changes that affected their work; (2) these changes had occurred in the last six months; (3) they felt they were doing well with the changes; (4) they were willing to make a time commitment of approximately three hours over a period of about six months; (5) they were willing to talk about their experiences; and (6) they were able to converse in English. Three prospective participants did not meet the criteria of having experienced changes affecting their work in the last six months so were not selected to participate, and two participants who met the criteria withdrew prior to the first interview due to unexpected family emergencies and thus their inability to make the necessary time commitment. No other participants withdrew from the study before the first interviews were conducted. A purposive sample consisting of 20 individuals (8 men and 12 women) was recruited in a variety of ways, including introductory letters sent through professional 106 association e-mails, academic and corporate e-mail list serves; posters put up on community centre and health club bulletin boards; recruitment advertisements inserted into corporate newsletters; posters and introductory letters from professional colleagues distributed at conventions; and word of mouth. Copies of the two introductory letters, recruitment advertisement, and recruitment poster are attached as Appendices I, II, III, and IV. Participants' ages ranged from 20 to 59 years (mean age = 44; SD = 11.9). The majority of participants (65%) were married or in a common-law relationship, 25% were single, 5% were divorced, and 5% were widowed. Annual household income ranged from $12,000 to $300,000 (median = $100,000), with one participant declining to provide this information. Education levels included nine participants with a bachelors degree (45%), four with a masters degree (20%), three with some university but not a completed degree (15%), three with college or technical school diplomas (15%), and one with some college or technical school training but not a completed diploma or certificate (5%). The participants in the current study worked in nine different industries, with health care (6/20 or 30%), education (4/20 or 20%), student (3/20 or 15%), and non-profit (2/20 or 10%) being the most frequently cited industries. The remainder of the industries included mental health, HR consulting, public sector, transportation, and high tech, each of which was represented by a single participant (1/20 or 5%). Although there was an initial attempt to balance the sample by industry volatility, 85% (17/20) of participants rated the industry in which they were working as "high volatility", 10% (2/20) rated their industry as "low volatility", and 5% (1/20) rated their 107 industry as "medium volatility". This was interesting as even those industries traditionally thought of as having relatively low volatility (e.g., public sector, education, transportation) were rated as highly volatile so balancing by industry volatility was not possible. Occupations were also highly varied with 11 types of work represented across the sample. Twenty-five percent (5/20) of participants were HR professionals; 15% (3/20) were executives; 15% (3/20) were students; and 10% (2/20) were teachers. The remaining occupations included counsellor, unskilled labourer, professional, coordinator, program manager, case manager, and office administrator, each of which was represented by a single participant (1/20 or 5%). All participants resided in British Columbia, with 16 (80%) living in the Lower Mainland/Greater Vancouver area, two (10%) living in the Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands area, one (5%) living in the east central part of the province, and one (5%) living in the north central part of the province. Table 1 summarizes the basic demographic data. 108 Table 1: Summary of basic demographic data Part # Age Sex Marital Status Education Family Income Industry Occupa-tion Location 1 32 F Married Masters 200,000 HR Consulting HR Pro-fessional Lower Mainland 2 42 M Married Some University 120,000 Health Care Profes-sional Lower Mainland 3 51 F Married College 90,000 Education Office Ad -ministrator Lower Mainland 4 27 M Married Bachelors 60,000 Health Care Labourer Lower Mainland 5 39 F Single College 30,000 Non-profit Case Manager Lower Mainland 6 53 F Divorced Some University * Public Sector Executive Lower Mainland 7 54 F Married Masters 140,000 Education Teacher Vane. Isl./ Gulf Island 8 52 M Married Bachelors 110,000 High Tech HR Pro-fessional Vane. Isl./ Gulf Island 9 59 M Married Masters 110,111 Mental Health Counsel-lor North/ Central BC 10 43 F Widowed Bachelors 90,000 Health Care HR Pro-fessional Lower Mainland 11 46 F Married Bachelors 140,000 Trans-portation HR Pro-fessional Lower Mainland 12 20 M Single Some University 20,000 Health Care Student Lower Mainland 13 32 F Common Law Bachelors 35,000 Education Teacher Lower Mainland 14 47 M Single Masters 50,000 Non-profit Program Manager Lower Mainland 15 37 M Single Some College 12,000 Student Student Lower Mainland 16 57- M Married Bachelors 100,000 Student Executive Lower Mainland 17 56 F Married College 100,000 Education Coordina-tor East/ Central B C 18 58 F Married Bachelors 300,000 Health Care Executive Lower Mainland 19 50 F Married Bachelors 150,000 Health Care HR Pro-fessional Lower Mainland 20 24 F Single Bachelors 25,000 Student Student Lower Mainland *Participant declined to provide annual household income. 109 . 3.7 Data Collection Procedures 3.7.1 Interview Procedures I conducted all 20 of the interviews used for this dissertation either by telephone (for those participants living outside the Lower Mainland area) from my home and participants' homes, or in person at a location that was comfortable for the participants. The in-person interviews generally took place either at the participant's home or work office, or at a lab office at the University of British Columbia. All interviews were audiotaped and extensive field notes taken by me during the interview. Participant numbers were used so there would be no identifying names on the completed Interview Guides containing the field notes. 3.7.2 Piloting the Interview Questions The interview questions were piloted in two ways. First, I conducted a pilot interview with a colleague to see how the questions flowed and whether they elicited the hoped-for information. As a result of this pilot interview, one question was added following the second scaling question. If the participant cited a different rating when compared to his or her first rating, a new follow-up question was included, "What's made the difference?" Second, the first couple of interviews I conducted with actual participants were considered as possible pilot interviews in case fine-tuning of the Interview Guide was deemed necessary. However, because the interview questions elicited rich, detailed, and appropriate responses; the participants expressed no difficulty in understanding the questions; and no changes were made to the Interview Guide as a result of these initial interviews, they were included in the sample and their data 110 analysed and reported upon. 3.7.3 The First Interview The first interview consisted of three components: contextual, critical incident, and demographic. Prior to starting each interview participants were invited to ask any questions they might have, review, discuss and sign the Informed Consent form (attached as Appendix V). Only then did the actual data collection interview begin using the Interview Guide (attached as Appendix VI). The interview was structured in a way that was intended to put participants at ease by starting with context information, first asking them to describe their current work situation, explain what "doing well" meant to them, answer the first scaling question, and provide details about the changes they had experienced that affected their work life, how those changes affected their work, and which changes they wanted to focus on for the critical incident questions. Next were the critical incident questions, during which participants were asked to describe what incidents or factors helped them in doing well with the changes that had affected their work (helping factors); what incidents or factors made it more difficult for them to do well (hindering factors); and whether there were other things that would have helped them to do even better had they been available (wish list items). Follow-up and probing questions were asked in order to ensure clarity of the incident or factor, obtain its meaning or importance in helping or hindering the person in handling, change well, and garner examples wherever possible. At the end of the critical incident component, the same scaling question was asked again. If there was a difference between the scores on the first and 111 second scaling question, participants were asked what made the difference. Participants were then asked whether they had always handled change well. A "no" response gave rise to two additional questions: (1) if not, when did this change for you; and (2) what happened that caused you to begin handling change well? Following participants' responses to these additional questions, or immediately following a "yes" response indicating they had always handled change well, I moved on to the third component of the interview, which consisted of obtaining demographic information. Data was gathered on participants' occupation, number of years in that occupation, occupation/job level, length of time in current job, industry in which they worked, number of years in that industry, length of service in their organization, age, sex, household income level, country of birth (if not Canada, participants were asked how long they had lived in Canada and what their first language was), marital status, family/parental status, and education level. Note was made of the start and end times of each interview, then I initialled and dated the Interview Guide. Interviews ranged in duration from one and one-quarter hours to three hours, with the average being two hours. One interview was conducted over the course of two days due to the participant's work obligations. At this point participants were thanked for their time, I checked to see if they had any questions, and invited participants to contact me if they thought of any additional helping, hindering, or wish list items that they would like to add. I checked to see if the participant was experiencing any reactions to the interview, and explained the next steps in the research project. Only one participant indicated feeling some distress at the end of the interview due to her realization of the cost to 112 her of handling all the changes she had experienced, as well as realizing she had some issues around her age and health. The participant indicated she did not need counselling but agreed to contact me if she felt a counselling referral would be helpful. No other participants expressed distress at the end of the interview, and no counselling referrals were made. 3.7.4 The Second Interview The second interviews were conducted approximately 12 months following the first interviews. This lengthy interval occurred for several reasons: (1) unexpected problems and delays were experienced in transcribing the audiotapes; (2) creating a data analysis protocol for a CIT study using ATLAS/ti 5.0 (a qualitative data analysis software program) was complex and involved pioneering new territory, so took several months to refine; and (3) the sheer volume of rich and complex information obtained from the interviews took longer than anticipated to code and analyze. Participants were contacted twice in the intervening months advising them of the delays and estimating when the second interviews would occur. When it was time to proceed with the second interviews participants were contacted either by e-mail or telephone to obtain current e-mail addresses to which the data from their first interview could be sent. Follow-up contact was made as necessary. Of the original 20 participants, 18 (90%) were reached for the second interviews. Despite numerous attempts by e-mail and/or telephone to reach them, two participants did not respond, thus the data from their first interviews could not be sent to them for their input. It is not known why these two participants failed to respond. For one, the e-mail messages were not returned as "undeliverable", which 113 suggested the e-mail address was still in use. For the other, voice-mail messages were successfully left at the last known phone number and the names given on the recorded message matched the names of the participant and her husband. It was not possible to follow-up with the people who had referred these participants to the research project without breaking confidentiality, so no further measures were taken to contact these two individuals. Data from the first interview were sent by e-mail to the other 18 participants, along with full instructions on what they were being asked to do. Participants were invited to contact me if they had questions or would prefer to conduct the second interview via telephone rather than by e-mail. Of these 18 participants, a total of 16 (89%) responded with input. One participant acknowledged receipt of the initial e-mail and asked that the results of her first interview be sent to her, but several weeks later advised she was busy at work so would be unable to read the material and respond. The other participant acknowledged receipt of her first interview results, but weeks later advised she would like to withdraw from the research project as she now found herself in a very different emotional, mental, and career place compared to where she had been at the time of the first interview. Although no input was received from her as part of the second interview, she gave written permission to continue using the data from her first interview in the study results. Eleven of the second interviews were conducted by e-mail. Copies of all e-mails were stored with the field notes from the first interview. The five remaining second interviews were conducted by telephone at the participants' requests. For these telephone interviews, I transcribed the notes taken during the interview to 114 capture the discussion details, e-mailed the notes to each participant for review and confirmation that they were correct, and then stored the participants' confirmation responses with the other research documents. The participant cross-checking credibility results for the second interview are discussed in the "Credibility/Trustworthiness Checks" section of this chapter. Specific details about the numbers of critical incidents that were added, changed, or deleted during the second interview are discussed in the "Critical Incident Results" section of Chapter Four. 3.8 Data Analysis Procedures Flanagan (1954) and Woolsey (1986) suggested there are three steps to the data analysis process: (1) selecting the frame of reference; (2) forming the categories; and (3) establishing the appropriate level of specificity/generality to use in reporting the data and findings. This framework was used for analyzing the data collected during the course of this research in concert with methods used by a number of qualitative researchers and writers (e.g., Allan, 1991; Amundson & Borgen, 1988; Cozby, 1997; Jones, 1991; Krippendorf, 1980; Palys, 1997; Spradley, 1979; Woolsey, 1986). These other methods included using data coding schemes, reporting frequencies and participation rates of particular responses, and describing any patterns, themes, and clusters that emerged. The data analysis for the current study involved three parts: extracting the critical incidents from the transcribed audiotapes, grouping the incidents according to similarities to form categories, and establishing the credibility of the categories. The first two are discussed next; 115 establishing the credibility of the categories is discussed in the next section. 3.8.1 Extracting the Critical Incidents All transcripts from the first interviews were reviewed by me and checked against the original audiotape and field notes to ensure their accuracy. Corrections were made to the transcripts as needed before loading them into ATLAS/ti 5.0 to do the data analysis. One of the challenges in conducting a CIT research study is the vast amount of data it can engender and therefore the difficulty of managing it. Use of this software did not supplant my role in determining what constituted a critical incident or wish list item. Rather, once the data analysis decisions were made, ATLAS/ti facilitated coding and managing the data. The interviews were coded one at a time for context information, responses to the two scaling questions, critical incidents and wish list items, information about whether the participants had always handled change well, and demographic data. Each item that was thought to be a critical incident or wish list item was scrutinized in detail to ensure there was sufficient supporting antecedent and outcome information, its meaning or importance had been captured, and/or the participant had provided an example. Items that met these criteria were coded as critical incidents or wish list items and their supporting details coded in a way that linked them to the specific incidents. Items that were thought to be critical incidents but for which the supporting information was missing were flagged for follow-up with the participant during the second interview and not initially included as critical incidents or wish list items. This extraction and coding of critical incidents and wish list items continued in batches of three interviews until the final batch of two interviews was 116 completed and all 20 interviews had been coded. 3.8.2 Creating the Categories After each batch of three interviews had been coded as described above, the critical incidents in each of the three interviews were reviewed one interview at a time to see what similarities, themes, patterns, etc. existed. When the critical incidents and wish list items from the first interview had been organized into tentative headings or categories, the critical incidents and wish list items from the second interview were reviewed and, as appropriate, either placed into the existing tentative categories or into newly created categories. The third interview was then reviewed and the critical incidents and wish list items from it were either placed into the existing tentative categories or newly created categories. This iterative process was repeated for six batches of three interviews and one final batch of two interviews until all the critical incidents and wish list items had been placed into categories. At that point, the categories themselves were examined to determine if they made sense, if they could be combined, whether there was too much overlap between categories, and whether there were insufficient items to warrant a stand-alone category. Once this examination of the categories was completed and the category scheme tentatively settled upon, a descriptive title was created and a definition written describing the intent of the category and providing examples of incidents that fit into it. These category titles and definitions were then used for several of the credibility checks described next. 117 3.9 Credibility/Trustworthiness Checks A total of nine credibility and trustworthiness checks were conducted for the current study, consistent with those suggested by Flanagan (1954), Borgen and Amundson (1984), Woolsey (1986), and Maxwell (1992), as well as other qualitative researchers using the CIT research method since its inception. In combination, these nine checks are consistent with the CIT research method protocols, add rigor to the process, and are intended to enhance the credibility of a CIT research study's findings. The history and evolution of these credibility checks have been chronicled in a recent article by Butterfield, Borgen, Amundson and Maglio (2005), which was used as the basis for the credibility checks employed in the current study and the descriptions of them discussed in this section. Following the description of each credibility check are the results of that credibility check as they applied to the data for the current study. 3.9.1 Audiotaping Interviews The first credibility check is aimed at providing descriptive validity (Maxwell, 1992) and involves audiotaping the research interviews in order to ensure the accuracy of participants' accounts. In order to accurately reproduce the participants' words, the researcher works either directly from the tapes, or from verbatim transcripts produced from the tapes (Alfonso, 1997). Participant cross-checking, already discussed above, also gives participants an opportunity to check the initial categories against their contents, confirm the soundness of the category titles, and determine the extent to which they reflect their individual experiences. All 20 of the interviews conducted for the current study were audiotaped in 118 order to capture participants' exact words and, where possible, pauses or nuances that added emphasis to what was being said. In three cases the audiotapes could not be fully transcribed due to poor recording quality; in one case the audiotape was lost en route to the transcribers, so could not be transcribed at all. In each of these situations I re-created the interview by reading the incomplete transcripts, listening to the audiotapes (if available), and adding in material from the field notes taken during the interviews. These re-created transcripts were then e-mailed to each participant for input and confirmation that they accurately captured the content of the interview. In one case the participant added background details to the contextual component of the interview, which provided additional richness but did not change the critical incident component of the interview. In all four cases the participants confirmed the transcripts were accurate, appropriately represented their experiences, and could be used for extracting critical incidents and wish list items. 3.9.2 Interview Fidelity The second credibility check is that of interview fidelity, which has just emerged from the recent CIT research projects being undertaken at the University of British Columbia (W. Borgen, personal communication, August 14, 2003). This entails asking an expert in the CIT research method to listen to a sample of interview tapes (usually every third or fourth interview) to ensure the researcher is following the CIT method and maintaining consistency. This is intended to uphold the rigor of the research design and check for leading questions being asked by the interviewer. This check is consistent with Creswell's (1998) comments that in order for the results of a qualitative research method to be considered credible, it is critically important 119 that the method's protocols and practices are followed. Every fourth interview audiotape was submitted to either Dr. Borgen or Dr. Amundson, both of whom were members of my dissertation committee and considered experts in the CIT research method. Their feedback confirmed the interviews were conducted in accordance with the CIT research method and were eliciting helping, hindering, and wish list items without leading the participants. Their comments confirmed appropriate follow-up questions and probes were used to clarify information, obtain examples, and help participants articulate how a factor helped or hindered, in accordance with the CIT method. 3.9.3 Independent Extraction of Critical Incidents The third credibility check, independent extraction of the critical incidents, consists of asking a person who is familiar with the CIT to independently extract the critical incidents and wish list items from one-quarter of the interview tapes or transcripts (Alfonso, 1997; Novotny, 1993). Once the incidents have been independently extracted, the researcher calculates the level of agreement between what he or she thought was a critical incident and what the independent coder thought was a critical incident. The higher the agreement rate, the more credible the claim is thought to be that the incidents are critical to the aim of the activity. It is generally agreed that independently extracting 25% of the total critical incidents and wish list items gathered during the study is sufficient for reasons of time, cost, and effectiveness (Borgen & Amundson, 1984). This check is consistent with Andersson and Nilsson's (1964) work. Five (25%) of the original interview transcripts were randomly selected and 120 sent to the independent coder to extract critical incidents and wish list items from them. The person doing this coding was a graduate student who was familiar with the CIT but had not been involved with or exposed to these 20 interviews. We achieved a 100% match rate for the helping, hindering, and wish list items extracted from these five interviews, suggesting the CIT research method was followed and that the incidents/wish list items extracted by me were representative of participants' experiences. 3.9.4 Exhaustiveness The fourth credibility check is that of exhaustiveness, which formed the basis of one of Andersson and Nilsson's (1964) reliability measures. It is determined by tracking the point at which new categories stop emerging when trying to place critical incidents and wish list items into the initial tentative category scheme (Flanagan, 1954; Woolsey, 1986). According to Flanagan, the researcher can assume adequate coverage of the domain when only two or three critical behaviours or incidents emerge from 100 critical incidents gathered. At this point it is thought the domain of the activity being studied has been adequately covered. This is only a general guideline, however, and needs to be tailored to each specific study. For this research, no new categories were needed after the critical incidents and wish list items from the fifth interview had been placed into the existing categories (25% of the total number of interviews). Thus critical incidents and wish list items from 75% of the interviews were placed into the early category scheme, which suggested the domain of the psychological construct being studied had been adequately covered. In addition, during the second interviews participants confirmed 121 eight potential critical incidents mentioned in the first interviews were helping critical incidents, and they added five new helping critical incidents that had not been previously mentioned. All 13 (100%) of these incidents fit into the existing categories, thus no changes to the categories or category titles were required. 3.9.5 Participation Rates The fifth credibility check is that of participation rate, which is calculated by determining the number of participants who cited incidents that are included under a category heading, then dividing that number by the total number of participants. This is consistent with Flanagan's (1954) suggestion that the more often independent observers report the same incident, the more likely it is that the incident is important to the aim of the study. Flanagan also reported calculating frequencies in conjunction with ensuring that the headings (or categories) "cover all incidents having significant frequencies" (p. 345), although he did not elaborate further on this point. Borgen and Amundson (1984) established a participation rate of 25% for a category to be considered credible. Each of the 10 categories that were created from the data met Borgen and Amundson's (1984) 25% test in at least one of the helping, hindering, or wish list sections. These participation rates ranged from a high of 80% (Helping: Personal Attitudes/Traits/Emotional Set; Hindering: Management Style and Work Environment) to a low of 25% (Helping: Support from Work Colleagues) and are listed on Table 10 (p. 165). These results suggested the category scheme was viable and robust. 122 3.9.6 Independent Placement of Incidents into Categories The sixth credibility check involves asking an independent judge to place 25% of the critical incidents into the tentative categories initially formed by the researcher. When creating each category, the researcher creates a description of it as well as a title and then submits titles, descriptions, and the sample of incidents that have been randomly chosen and are now in no particular order to the independent judge for placement into the categories. Once again, the higher the agreement rate between the researcher's and independent judge's placement of incidents into the categories, the more sound the categories are thought to be (Butterfield et al., 2005). Both Flanagan's (1954) data analysis procedures and the reliability checks reported by Andersson and Nilsson (1964) support this measure of trustworthiness. According to Andersson and Nilsson, the necessary level.of agreement is between 75% and 85%. If an agreement level of 80% is reached the categories are considered viable. A total of 81 critical incidents and wish list items (25% of the total incidents) were randomly chosen and sent to a Ph.D. level graduate student unfamiliar with the CIT for placement into the categories. The graduate student also received a list of the categories and the category definitions. The critical incidents and wish list items were provided to the graduate student in random order under the broad categories "helping critical incidents," "hindering critical incidents", and "wish list items." Differences in placement were handled by reviewing the transcript context for each incident or wish list item where we did not agree, sharing our rationale for placing an incident/wish list item into a particular category, then coming to agreement on the category where we thought the item best fit. In two cases where we were not able to 123 come to an agreement, the participants' comments during the second interview on category placement for their incidents and items were used as the deciding factor. The overall match rate was 97.5% (79/81), broken down as follows: for the helpful items, we achieved a 100% (48/48) match rate; for the hindering items we achieved a 94.4% (17/18) match rate; and for the wish list items we achieved a 93.3% (14/15) match rate. These match rates exceeded the 80% guideline set out by Andersson and Nilsson (1964), and are considered to be high rates of agreement (N. Amundson, personal communication, July 24, 2005). These results suggested the categories were sound. 3.9.7 Cross-checking by Participants The seventh credibility check is that of participant cross-checking, which consists of a second interview with participants after the data from the first interviews has been extracted, analyzed, and placed into tentative categories. This cross-checking is intended to give participants a chance to review their critical incidents and wish list items, comment on whether the categories make sense and the extent to which their experiences were adequately represented by the category titles, and to either add, delete, or amend their critical incidents. Considered an innovation for the CIT, this check was first introduced by Alfonso (1997) and is consistent with Fontana and Frey's (2000) suggestion that researchers respect participants' expertise in their own histories and perspectives. It also fits with Maxwell's (1992) concept of interpretive validity for qualitative studies. All sixteen (100%) of the participants who responded to the second interviews confirmed the helping and hindering critical incidents and wish list items extracted 124 from their first interviews were correct; 100% confirmed the category headings made sense and accurately represented the meaning of their experiences; and 94% (15/16) confirmed the incidents and wish list items had been placed in the appropriate categories. Only one participant asked that an incident be moved from the helping category, "Support from Work Colleagues", to the helping category, "Support from Friends and Family" because for her the importance was the friendship component of the relationship she had with people at work, not the work colleague component. No other changes were made to the existing helping and hindering critical incidents or wish list items coded from the first interviews. 3.9.8 Expert Opinions The eighth credibility check is that of submitting the tentative categories to two or more experts in the field. The experts review the categories and comment on whether they find them useful, whether they are surprised by any of the categories, and whether they think something is missing based on their experience. This appears to have been first used by Eilbert (1953), endorsed by Flanagan (1954), then used more recently by McCormick (1994), Alfonso (1997), and Morley (2003). The rationale is that the credibility of the tentative categories is enhanced if the experts find them useful and complete. Opinions on the utility of the initial category scheme for the current study were sought from two experts in the field - the first a psychologist with extensive business experience in the areas of career management and organizational consulting; the second an HR professional and management consultant with more than 25 years of experience. The first expert stated the categories made sense, there were no 125 surprises, they fit with his knowledge of workers' experiences, and he could think of nothing that was missing. He did observe that two of the categories, "Support from Work Colleagues" and "Personal Traits/Attitudes/ Emotional Set" were not included in the Wish List categories and mentioned he thought it interesting. The second expert made similar comments. In addition, her review of the categories generated questions, conjecture, and observations germane to the ways in which participants were attributing their successes and challenges in handling change well. These are discussed further in Chapter Five. This credibility/trustworthiness check confirmed all 10 categories were useful in the experts' professional opinions and therefore added to the trustworthiness of the categories. 3.9.9 Theoretical Agreement The ninth and final credibility check, theoretical agreement, arises from Maxwell's (1992) concept of theoretical validity and consists of two parts: making the assumptions underlying the research project explicit (Alfonso, 1997); and comparing the emergent categories against relevant scholarly literature (Maxwell, 1992). According to Maxwell, theoretical validity is about the "presence or absence of agreement within the community of inquirers about the descriptive or interpretive terms used" (p. 292). It is important to note, however, that a CIT research study is by definition exploratory. Therefore lack of support in the literature does not necessarily mean a category is not sound; rather it may mean the study has uncovered something new that is not yet known to researchers. What is important is to submit the categories to this scrutiny and then make reasoned decisions about 126 what support in the literature (or lack of it) means. Flanagan (1954) did not mention theoretical agreement when writing about the CIT, but he endorsed Eilbert's (1953) use of subject matter experts and he himself sought out authorities, consumers, and others as a way of testing the utility of the initial categories. Comparison against the relevant scholarly literature appears to have first been used by McCormick (1994) The first aspect of theoretical agreement looks at the assumptions underlying the study. The assumptions underlying the current study were: (1) people experience change, are aware of it, and are able to describe their responses; (2) change has increased in all spheres of people's lives; (3) the environment is no longer stable and therefore it is no longer appropriate to assume that the "fault" lies with the individual who is experiencing difficulties dealing with change; (4) most counselling approaches are geared towards remediation rather than prevention; (5) most of the research on stress and coping has not yielded useful tools and interventions; and (6) many individuals are suffering as a result of the continuous change and increasing complexity affecting them daily. The literature reviewed in the areas of workplace change, social psychology, thriving, business, stress and coping, positive psychology, career counselling, vocational psychology, and other relevant scholarly literature suggested that the assumptions underlying the current study were sound. The second aspect of theoretical agreement is that of comparing the emergent categories against relevant scholarly literature. When this credibility check was conducted for the current study's results, support for all 10 categories was found in the literature. The details of this comparison of the categories with the 127 literature are discussed in Chapter Five. 3.10 Summary of Chapter Three This chapter began with a discussion of the research method used for the current study. It discussed the rationale for utilizing a qualitative approach that used open-ended interview questions and the CIT, and for the quantitative component embedded in this qualitative study that asked the pre- and post-interview scaling questions. It also examined the CIT's genesis, evolution, and utility for this research question, and discussed the sampling procedure used for soliciting participants. The sample population was then described, and the data collection procedures detailed. Next, the data analysis procedures were detailed, including the use of ATLAS/ti to assist with data management. Finally, the nine credibility checks used in the current study to enhance the trustworthiness of the findings were described, and the results of eight of them reported in detail. Based on the results of these nine credibility and trustworthiness checks that met or exceeded the guidelines set by previous researchers, it was concluded that the data obtained from these interviews were sound and that the critical incidents and wish list items adequately covered the domain being examined. It was also concluded that the categories into which the critical incidents and wish list items had been placed were viable and adequately represented the participants' experiences. 128 CHAPTER IV: RESULTS 4.1 Overview of Chapter Four The purpose of this chapter is to present the results of the current study. It begins with a discussion of the data obtained during the contextual component of the interviews, as well as unsolicited data spontaneously offered by some participants about their past experiences handling change. The next section presents the critical incident results, which was the primary research question of interest at the outset of the current study. The final section discusses the impact of the interview on participants, looking at both the pre- and post-interview scaling question results, reasons for differences in scores, and at unsolicited comments participants made throughout the interview. The demographic data was presented in Chapter Three as part of the sampling procedures so is not repeated here. 4.2 Context Results The contextual component of the first interview was intended to do several things: (1) help participants relax and put them at their ease; (2) accustom them to being audiotaped; (3) provide the interviewer with a broad understanding of the participants' current work situation and what "doing well" meant to them; (4) elicit general information about the kinds of changes they had experienced in the past six months and the impacts of those changes; (5) find out whether participants had always handled change well and if not, when this had changed and what precipitated the change. These questions were intended to provide background information that 129 would perhaps shed light on participants' lived experiences of change, and to provide context for the critical incident results. Information about participants' current work situations is not reported in this section because some of it was captured in the demographic information presented in Chapter Three (e.g., occupation, industry), and some of it is captured in the nature of the changes they experienced that is discussed later in this chapter. 4.2.1 What Doing Well Means Since participants self-reported they were doing well with changes affecting their work when they volunteered to take part in the current study, it was important to find out what "doing well" meant to each person. Participants were invited early in the interview to describe what doing well meant to them. A total of 241 responses were received and grouped into 20 themes that are listed in Table 2, along with their participation rates and frequencies. The top twelve themes, all with participation rates of 25% or more, are discussed immediately following the table. 130 Table 2: Themes from the question, "What does doing well mean to you?" Themes Part. Rate (%) Fre-quen cy(#) Being effective, productive (achieves end results), successful; performs well (at or even above the standard); focused on the work 80 43 Feeling positive/happy/energized; sense of possibility/opportunity; looking forward to going to work in the morning 75 29 Being centred within oneself; calm; confident; feeling good about self 65 24 Coping; surviving all the changes; haven't been crushed/defeated by a dysfunctional or toxic environment 55 22 Maintaining other parts of life; work/life/psychological balance 50 16 Being able to control or influence the outcomes of change and/or how to use one's time and energy 35 12 Doing something positive to make things better; taking action/ building; making decisions; willing to try new things/take risks 35 11 v Having a sense of accomplishment/satisfaction/fulfillment; feeling good or content about work 35 9 Being excited about upcoming plans for the workplace/new things coming; feeling liberated; spark of enthusiasm/interest for what you're doing 35 9 Knowing there is support available any time it's needed; consultation . 30 9 Having a sense of perspective; not taking things personally; big picture thinking 25 7 Engaging/participating in the workplace; included in the work team; having a niche 25 6 Engaging in learning and professional growth opportunities 20 7 Feeling in a position to communicate, guide, mentor, support others 20 6 Being persistent, adaptable and flexible 20 4 Being honest about the reality of changes/expectations and impact of change, yet able to put best foot forward 20 4 Making a contribution; living in accordance with beliefs 15 9 Being financially OK; achieving financially; maintaining standard of living 15 5 Having the work flow/appear easy, even though it's not; seems natural/ fits 15 5 Feeling valued; being respected/recognized for one's role 15 4 131 The largest theme, with 43 items and a participation rate of 80% (16/20), was "Being effective, productive (achieves end results), successful; performs well (at or even above the standard); focused on the work". Participants most often cited performance reviews or customer/client feedback as the means by which they determined they were being effective or successful. What was striking about this theme was the range of descriptors for being effective or productive, which ran the gamut from just being able to deliver, to being able to perform at their best, to being able to perform above the expected standard. What they all have in common is the ability to get the work done for the benefit of the client, customer, supplier, or other person relying on the product or service. The second largest theme was that of "Feeling positive/happy/energized; sense of possibility/opportunity; looking forward to going to work in the morning", with a total of 29 items and a participation rate of 75% (15/20 participants). The majority of participants citing items in this theme said they felt happier, had energy to do the work, got up in the morning looking forward to going to work, and were told by others they looked happier. These items had to do with participants' sense of feeling positive, energized, and eager to greet the challenges facing them. The third largest theme was that of "Being centred within oneself; calm; confident; feeling good about self, with 24 items and a participation rate of 65% (13/20 participants). Participants mentioned items related to self-esteem, self-confidence, and an inner state of being that kept them centred so they were able to remain calm when faced with change. This theme differs from the previous one because it was the participants' inner sense of being grounded or centred that 132 enabled them to maintain their serenity and sense of feeling good about themselves in any new situation. The fourth largest theme was that of "Coping; surviving all the changes; haven't been crushed/defeated by a dysfunctional or toxic work environment", with a total of 22 items and a participation rate of 55% (11/20 participants). These items did not include being effective in their roles, which was captured in the first theme, but rather consisted of their objective observations that they had survived, and their subjective beliefs they could cope no matter what was thrown at them. Several participants mentioned surviving and still being at work while others around them had left. Several others mentioned that they had not been defeated by the changes and were still hanging in there (as opposed to functioning well as expressed by the first theme) even though the work environment was dysfunctional or toxic. The fifth largest theme was "Maintaining other parts of life; work/life/ psychological balance", with 16 items and a participation rate of 50% (10/20 participants). Participants said they knew they were doing well when they were still able to make time for family, relationships, hobbies, sports, fun activities, or community and volunteer activities, etc. This acted as a barometer for them and appeared to be one of the first things to go when they were not doing well. The sixth largest theme was "Being able to control or influence the outcomes of change and/or how to use one's time and energy", with 12 items and a participation rate of 35% (7/20 participants). These items reflected the participants' sense of being able to work on their own, controlling or dictating how they used their time and energy, having a say in the difficult times, and influencing the outcome 133 even if they did not make the final decision. The seventh largest theme was "Doing something positive to make things better; taking action/ building; making decisions; willing to try new things/take risks", with a total of 11 items and a participation rate of 35% (7/20 participants). These items included being prepared to fail at something new; building something that did not exist before (e.g., a new company, or a department within a company); doing things that would have been considered atypical in the old environment; developing contacts in case they were needed in the future; addressing issues arising from changes as they came up, etc. The eighth largest theme was "Having a sense of accomplishment/ satisfaction/fulfillment; feeling good or content about work", with nine items and a participation rate of 35% (7/20 participants). These items captured participants' comments about feeling a sense of satisfaction or fulfillment from their work, or a sense of accomplishment, and feeling good or content about the work they were doing. This appeared to have nothing to do with external rewards, but rather was an intrinsic sense they carried with them regardless of external messages received. The ninth largest theme was "Being excited about upcoming plans for the workplace/new things coming; feeling liberated; spark of enthusiasm/interest for what you're doing", with a total of nine items and a participation rate of 35% (7/20 participants). This represented participants' comments about feeling they were on the cusp of something new, of feeling liberated from the old routine, and of feeling creative about how to make a role more workable under new circumstances. The tenth largest theme was "Knowing there is support available any time it's 134 needed; consultation", with a total of nine items and a participation rate of 30% (6/20 participants). Items here are a combination of support from the organization, support from health care providers (for example, EAP counsellors), and support from home. What all of these have in common was a certainty that support was there for these participants, regardless of the form it took. The eleventh largest theme was "Having a sense of perspective; not taking things personally; big picture thinking", with a total of seven items and a participation rate of 25% (5/20 participants). These items included recognizing the organization's circumstances had changed and thus not becoming emotionally upset, looking at the big picture instead of taking things personally, and taking a holistic perspective about one's place in the scheme of things. One participant took the perspective of thinking of herself as a temporary employee, which gave her the freedom and choice to walk away whenever she wanted. The final theme to be discussed in detail was "Engaging/participating in the workplace; included in the team; having a niche", with a total of six items and a participation rate of 25% (5/20 participants). Specific comments cited that fit under this theme included feeling like one has a place and role in the changing organization, getting involved in team activities, reaching out and becoming involved in other work-related committees, activities, etc. There were an additional eight themes: (1) engaging in learning and professional growth opportunities; (2) feeling in a position to communicate, guide, mentor or support others; (3) being persistent, adaptable and flexible; (4) being honest about the reality of changes/expectations and impact of change, yet able to 135 put best foot forward; (5) making a contribution and living in accordance with beliefs; (6) being financially OK and able to maintain one's standard of living; (7) feeling as though the work flows or appears easy even when it is not, and feeling as if it is natural or fits; and (8) feeling valued and respected or recognized for one's role. Because these themes had participation rates less than 25%, they are not discussed in detail. What was striking about participants' responses to being asked what doing well meant to them was their difficulty in answering the question. Many paused for long periods of time before responding, eventually answering in a halting and disjointed way. Many others had to be redirected to the question because they began talking about strategies used to help them do well rather than the signs or indicators that told them they were doing well. Of the questions asked during the contextual part of the interview, overall this required the most time and thought by participants and appeared to be the most difficult one for them to answer. 4.2.2 Changes Affecting Participants' Work Lives Participants were asked to describe the changes they had experienced that affected their work lives. These changes could have occurred in any arena of their lives as long as they had an impact on the person's work in some way. A total of 197 changes experienced by these 20 participants were discussed and are summarized in Table 3 below." 136 Table 3: Summary of Changes Experienced Main Themes Sub-themes Part. Rate (%) Fre-quency (#) Work 95 154 New job/duties; change in scope 95 50 Restructuring (including new manager) 50 17 Downsizing, office closures, staff leaving 50 13 New business, products, clients 30 9 Labour and/or management environment 30 9 Corporate culture 30 8 Office relocations/renovations 25 12 External changes (laws; government reg's.) 25 12 Pending changes (any type) 25 8 New policies, procedures, protocols 20 6 Loss of business income (any cause) 10 4 Mergers/acquisitions 10 - 2 Working conditions (compensation, hours) 5 3 Programs reduced or eliminated 5 1 Personal Life 65 24 Family member illness or death 20 5 Moving (residence) 20 5 Health & self-care (illness; sleep; age) 20 5 Socializing 10 3 Family status (got married; had children) 10 3 Spending more time with family 10 2 Finances (El running out, etc.) 5 1 Professional 35 11 Life Return to school/stopped working 25 5 Career plans changed 10 3 Taking time off work or school (any reason) 10 3 Attitude/ 20 8 Approach Attitudes (determination; afraid of making a mistake; seeing opportunities; less action-oriented and more thinking-oriented) 20 4 Approaches (volunteer work to maintain skills; working more effectively with people) 15 4 137 By far the largest main theme was that of work-related changes, with 154 items representing 78% of the total changes mentioned. Within the Work main theme, participants most often mentioned new jobs, new duties, or changes in the scope of their jobs as having affected them in the past six months (50 items with a 95% participation rate). New jobs meant moving into an entirely different role, either within the same company or at a new company; new duties meant having additional duties added to their portfolio that were once done by someone else; and changes in scope included both an expanding or narrowing of job domain responsibilities and a resulting change in the impact of the person's work (e.g., moving from having corporate-wide responsibilities and influence to being responsible only within one small department), and increases or decreases in geographic areas for which the person was responsible while the nature of the work remained the same (e.g., same overall responsibilities but scope was increased to include another whole province). The next two largest sub-themes under the Work theme were restructuring initiatives, which included reporting to a new manager; and downsizings, office closures and staff leaving. Both sub-themes had participation rates of 50% (10/20 participants) with 17 and 13 items, respectively. The third largest sub-themes, each with a participation rate of 30%, were the introduction of new businesses, products or clients (e.g., offering an entirely new type of service to clients) with nine items; changes to the labour and/or management environment (e.g., the Board of Directors becoming more involved and changing the communication and decision-making practices) with nine items; and changes to corporate culture (e.g., went from open and inclusive to secretive and dictatorial) with eight items. 138 The final three sub-themes to be discussed under the Work main theme were those of office relocations and/or renovations (e.g., moving to entirely new offices or undergoing renovations to existing office space); external changes (e.g., new government regulations being imposed or new laws that affected the business); and pending changes (e.g., anticipating the sale of the business). These three sub-themes each had participation rates of 25% (5/20 participants) with 12, 12 and eight items respectively. The remaining five sub-themes had participation rates of less than 25% so are not discussed. The second largest main theme was that of Personal Life with a total of 24 items (12% of the total) and an overall participation rate of 65% (13/20 participants). Within this main theme were seven sub-themes: (1) family member illness or death with a participation rate of 20% (4/20 participants) and five items; (2) moving to a new residence with a participation rate of 20% (4/20 participants) and five items; (3) health and self-care issues such as personal illness, inability to sleep, and age-related items with a participation rate of 20% (4/20 participants) and five items; (4); changes in the amount of time spent socializing with a participation rate of 10% (2/20 participants) and three items; (5) change in family status, such as getting married or having children, with a participation rate of 10% (2/20 participants) and three items; (6) spending more time with family with a participation rate of 10% (2/20 participants) and two items; and (7) financial issues, such as Employment Insurance benefits running out, with a participation rate of 5% (1/20 participants) and one item. For the most part, these changes were challenging and emotional for participants. The one exception was the sub-theme of spending more time with family, which was 139 very positive for the participants who mentioned this. However, it arose from previously difficult working conditions that, once resolved, allowed the individuals to spend more time with their families. Other sub-themes, such as a change in family status, were exciting but participants also discussed the difficulties they encountered in adjusting their lifestyles and work habits. The sub-theme about socializing consisted of mixed reactions. One participant spent less time socializing with friends because of increased work loads that necessitated taking work home; another had more time to socialize because of leaving a previously difficult work situation. The third main theme was that of changes to participants' Professional Lives, with an overall participation rate of 35% (7/20 participants) and 11 items. There were three sub-themes falling under this main theme: (1) returning to school and stopping working, with a participation rate of 25% (5/20 participants) and five items; (2) changes to career plans, with a participation rate of 10% (2/20 participants) and three items; and (3) taking time off work or school for a variety of reasons, with a participation rate of 10% (2/20 participants) and three items. This third theme is different from the work theme because these were decisions the participants made themselves about their futures and their careers rather than changes imposed on them by the work place. Five participants in this sample had made major career-altering decisions to return to school, either on a full-time or part-time basis, in order to take their careers in different directions in the future. One example was a woman who decided to pursue a Masters degree part-time in order to position herself for a different career; another is a man who retired from corporate life and later decided to pursue a Masters degree in counselling. Changing career plans consisted of items 140 where participants mentioned their career trajectory had changed as a result of corporate decisions and they were fully engaged in making decisions about career direction. For example, one individual had been groomed for a high-level executive position when her boss retired, but because of corporate restructuring that was no longer going to occur. She was therefore trying to decide whether to retire from her current role and start a consulting business, or to look for corporate opportunities in other organizations. The final sub-theme involved decisions by participants to take a leave of absence from work to return to school for one or two semesters or to care for ailing loved ones. This was a declaration of priorities for these individuals, of what was really important to them. The final main theme mentioned by participants was changes to their Attitudes or Approaches to life, with an overall participation rate of 20% (4/20 participants) and eight items. There were two sub-themes falling under this main theme: (1) changes in attitudes with a participation rate of 20% (4/20 participants) and four items; and (2) changes to their approaches to things, with a participation rate of 15% (3/20 participants) and four items. Changes in attitude included shifts that caused the person to have more determination, become afraid to make a mistake, start to see opportunities instead of problems, become less action-oriented, or become more thinking-oriented. Changes in approach included starting to do volunteer work in order to maintain skills while looking for work and to increase the participant's network. It also included adjusting one's management style to become more collaborative and less dictatorial. 141 4.2.3 Impact of Changes As a way of further orienting me to each participant's experience of change, and to continue putting participants at their ease, participants were invited to discuss the impacts the changes had on them. Participants mentioned 608 impact items. These items were analyzed, organized, and grouped into five main themes: (1) psychological impacts; (2) professional/work impacts; (3) emotional impacts; (4) physical impacts; and (5) personal/family life impacts. Each theme was then examined for patterns within it, resulting in the creation of 15 sub-themes. The themes are summarized in Table 4, which includes the major themes, sub-themes, participation rates, and frequencies. They are discussed following the table. 142 Table 4: Impact of Changes on Participants Major Theme Sub-theme Part. Rate (%) Fre-quency (#) Psychological Impacts (213 items) Negative (e.g., decreased motivation; hard or difficult time dealing with changes; decreased interest; poor boundaries; catastrophizing) 90 149 Positive (e.g., increased motivation; good change experience; belief things will work out; firm boundaries) 75 64 Professional/ Work Impacts (177 items) New Job/New Duties (e.g., retirement; career change; additional duties; different job; scope) 85 52 Loss of colleagues, impact on colleagues (e.g., clients' perceptions; decreased team cohesion; less communication) 60 34 Professional development (e.g., no training; more or less feedback received; return to school) 50 31 Reduced ability to get job done (e.g., lack of clerical support; reduced staff; no processes) 50 24 Change to corporate culture (e.g., pressured; no job security; more collaborative; more confrontational; stressful vs. laid back) 45 18 Change to compensation/working conditions (e.g., increased overtime; no professional fees paid; reduced hours; taking work home) 30 12 Change to office space; office moves (e.g., moving office; competing for meeting space) 25 6 Emotional Impacts (171 items) Negative (e.g., fear; frustrated; stressed; lost; angry; grief; worries; anxious; depressed) 85 128 Positive (e.g., happy; free; more relaxed; less worried; excited; joyful; more appreciated) 60 43 Physical Impacts (26 items) Negative (e.g., increased tiredness; disrupted sleep; exhaustion; increased illness/accidents; decreased fitness) 50 22 Positive (e.g., increased energy; improved fitness) 15 4 Personal/ Family Life Impacts (21 items) More time for family, friends, self (e.g., starting hobbies; engaging in education plans, or in community activities, etc.) 25 13 Less time for family, friends, self (e.g., fewer connections; giving up personal goals; working at home; less travel) 20 8 143 The first major theme was that of Psychological Impacts, with 213 items. This was broken down into two sub-themes: (1) negative psychological impacts, with a participation rate of 90% (18/20) and 149 items; and (2) positive psychological impacts, with a participation rate of 75% (15/20) and 64 items. The number of negative psychological impacts outnumbered the positive psychological impacts by a ratio of more than two to one, which was surprising given this data came from people who self-reported as doing well with changes affecting their work. The participant quotes below capture some of these impacts: I mean you are overwhelmed and you are out of control and you are sitting on these seas with high winds flying around you sometimes and you just hang on and go for the ride. (Participant 18) When I hit the wall I didn't sleep for four or five nights and I had that sick feeling in the pit of the stomach and I was just freaking terrified like and don't ask me about what. (Participant 10) And that started when I went into the coaching program. And I am so motivated by it that I just created my own protection in a way. (Participant 11) The second major theme was that of Professional/Work Impacts, with 177 items. This was broken down into seven sub-themes: (1) new job/new duties, with a participation rate of 85% (17/20) and 52 items; (2) loss of colleagues, impact on colleagues, with a participation rate of 60% (12/20) and 34 items; (3) professional development, with a participation rate of 50% (10/20) and 31 items; (4) reduced ability to get the job done, with a participation rate of 50% (10/20) and 24 items; (5) change to corporate culture, with a participation rate of 45% (9/10) and 18 items; (6) change to compensation/working conditions, with a participation rate of 30% (6/20) and 12 items; and (7) change to office space or office moves, with a participation rate of 25% (5/20) and 6 items. The following participant quotes capture some of 144 these professional/work impacts: So what I'm getting at there is the compensation. My job duties have been doubled and tripled and I got no increase in salary. As a matter of fact I had a fight to even keep the salary I had so that's just an insult to me. (Participant 14) You never know what is going on, you never know if you are going to have a job from one day to the next. Lots of personality conflicts, issues, so it has definitely been an environment where the culture is toxic. (Participant 1) Oh definitely, we're like a pimple on the side of the organization because our President is far more interested, let me be very clear about this, is far more interested in building up the new organization. (Participant 6) It was interesting to note that for the most part, participants did not distinguish positive from negative impacts in this theme. Their responses were more a recitation of the facts, as though they were presenting a grocery list of the impacts. This stands in stark contrast to the emotionally charged tones of all the other themes in this part of the interview. The third major theme was that of Emotional Impacts, with 171 items. This was broken down into two sub-themes: (1) negative emotional impacts with a participation rate of 85% (17/20) and 128 items; and (2) positive emotional impacts with a participation rate of 60% (12/20) and 43 items. The number of negative emotional impacts outnumbered the positive emotional impacts by a ratio of three to one, which is again startling given that participants self-reported as doing well with changes affecting their work. Some participant quotes illustrate this theme: And, but that was confusing and it was frustrating. It was really frustrating. I'd been through workplace changes like that in previous jobs and I know even with experience it is difficult. Without any experience, people get devastated. (Participant 19) 145 I got married at the end of the summer and I went away, I was gone for a month and when I came back it felt like half the company was gone so it was very sudden and there was definitely a sense of loss. (Participant 1) I don't have to live with those fetters, those shackles any more, I am out of there and I am in a much better situation, and I'm very happy compared to where I was. Release is what it constitutes, I think it's a key word, just release from the continued damage it was doing. (Participant 3) The fourth major theme was Physical Impacts, with a total of 26 items. This was broken down into two sub-themes: (1) negative physical impacts with a participation rate of 50% (10/20) and 22 items; and (2) positive physical impacts with a participation rate of 15% (3/20) and 4 items. The following participant quotes highlight some of these impacts: I was working closely with one of my colleagues and we spent hours and hours and hours second guessing ourselves and trying to figure out what is it they're looking for? What is it we need to do? And this time line and framework they want to do the project, and it's just tons of hours of overtime, stress, and falling behind in our day-to-day tasks. Eventually what happened is my colleague got sick and I ended up having a car accident, both because of exhaustion. (Participant 14) I was able to pursue my exercise program more vigorously, I felt more energetic. (Participant 3) The final major theme was Personal/Family Life Impacts, with a total of 21 items. This was broken down into two sub-themes: (1) more time for family, friends, self with a participation rate of 25% (5/20) and 13 items; and (2) less time for family, friends, self with a participation rate of 20% (4/20) and eight items. The following participant quotes illustrate: [My new job] frees me up to be more at home with my family. (Participant 3) Demanding work - it has affected my sleeping cycle; not doing so much socializing during the week. I was taking work home in the evenings - at work at 5:00 AM to do the work. (Participant 5) 146 What became obvious after reviewing these and other quotes was the interrelated nature of the impacts - psychological impacts affected sleep; work impacts affected emotional reactions; work changes had physical and personal life impacts as well as emotional ones. For example, having his workload doubled or tripled with no increase in compensation left one participant feeling insulted and with little personal time to devote to his professional development goals. 4.2.4 Emotional Impacts of Changes As.mentioned above, it was surprising that participants expressed such difficult and negative emotions while talking about the impacts of change, and indeed throughout the entire interview. In fact, the overwhelming impression I had when listening to all but one of the participants' stories was one of difficulty, pain, and negativity. To test this impression, I used the ATLAS/ti "word cruncher" function to count all the words in every interview and the number of times each participant used a particular word. Where there was some ambiguity about whether a word had been expressing an emotion (e.g., used, difficult) rather than being used in some other descriptive manner, the interview transcripts were checked. Participants used over 400 different words that described their feelings about change. Table 5 lists the top 10 positive and negative emotions mentioned by participants. 147 Table 5: Top 10 Positive and Negative Emotional Impacts Positive Emotional Impacts Negative Emotional Impacts Feeling/Experience Frequency Feeling/Experience Frequency Happy/happier 107 Down/bad 327 Belief/believing 107 Trying/tough 248 Successful 93 Difficult 178 Enjoyed 73 Stressed/stressf u I 156 Freedom/free 67 Confused/uncertain 132 Interested 56 Lost/losses 114 Excited 46 Used 104 Nice 42 Frustrated 84 Challenged 42 Negative/negativity 82 Comfortable 38 Separated/isolated 71 Total: 671 Total: 1,496 148 The top 10 feeling and experience words totalled 2,167. Of these, 31 % (671) had a positive connotation, and 69% (1,496) had a negative connotation. Although charting the experience of dealing with change was not in the scope of the current study, these results suggest that participants were not effortlessly doing well in the face of change, but rather there was a journey involved that moved them from experiencing the range of negative emotions and impacts to a point of experiencing the more positive emotions and impacts. It also suggests that participants might have been experiencing both positive and negative emotions at the same time in different arenas of their lives. It would be interesting to follow up in a future study. 4.2.5 Have Participants Always Handled Change Well? After completing the second scaling question, participants were asked, "Have you always handled change well?" A total of 10 participants responded yes, they had always handled change well; eight responded no, they had not always handled change well; and two participants replied both yes and no to this question. Table 6 lists the participants' gender and age, as well as the responses given. Following the table, responses from participants who answered "yes" are discussed, then responses from participants who answered both "yes and no" are discussed, and finally responses from participants who answered "no" are discussed. 149 Table 6: Responses to, "Have you always handled change well?" Participant # Gender Age Responded "Yes" Responded "No" Responded "Yes" and "No" 1 F 32 </ 2 M 42 3 F 51 4 M 27 5 F 39 •/ 6 F 53 7 F 54 8 M 52 9 M 59 10 F 43 </ 11 F 46 12 M 20 V 13 F 32 14 M 47 15 M 37 16 M 57 </ 17 F 56 18 F 58 19 F 50 </ 20 F 24 </ 150 Participants who responded "yes". The breakdown of responses from the 10 participants who answered yes, they had always handled change well, is as follows: eight (80%) were women and two (20%) were men; four (40%) were in their fifties, three (30%) were in their thirties, two (20%) were in their twenties, and one (10%) was in her forties. Unsolicited and unexpected data was obtained when nine (90%) of the 10 participants who had always handled change well spontaneously offered some insights, perspectives, and observations about actions they had taken or viewpoints that had changed over the years that increased their ability to handle change well. Table 7 summarizes participants' comments about what happened that enabled them to handle change even better. 151 Table 7: What Changed so Now Handling Change Better? Themes Examples Participants (N - 9) Incidents n % n Having experience with previous passages or transitions Having experienced previous job losses; dealing with family deaths; moving 5 56 7 Taking action Thinking ahead and deciding what I want the end result to look like; talking to people about what I am going through; finding the support I need; putting into effect the strategies or philosophies I have read about; deciding to do something and doing it -seeing the success/ achievement; managing oneself through change 4 44 8 Having a philosophy or perspective to draw on Using Stephen Covey's book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" or Shakti Gawain's book, "Creative Visualization" for generating strategies and philosophies for living; having a positive perspective on things 4 44 6 Attitude Putting things behind me; being ready for change; being adaptable 4 44 4 Self-awareness Recognizing and dealing with resistance; knowing what I like; knowing what my strengths are; knowing what my weaknesses are 2 22 6 152 These nine participants mentioned a total of 31 items, which were broken down into five themes. The first theme was having experience dealing with previous passages or transitions, with a participation rate of 56% (5/9) and seven items. One participant said he "had a lot of change in my life; not a lot of crises, but I've had lots of passages and transitions" (Participant 8). Another participant reported, "I have gone through lots of change. I grew up moving, I mean after a while you just get better at it" (Participant 10). The second theme was taking action, with a participation rate of 44% (4/9) and eight items. One participant talked about "you wanted to do something and you could follow through in action, achieve what you said you wanted to do" (Participant 6). A second participant talked about taking action in conjunction with getting the support she needed, "I have had major changes, like where I have lived, so I find the support I need quite quickly" (Participant 13). Later she talked about learning to take steps to talk to her support network as a way of helping her deal effectively with change, commenting that having a support network is not helpful if you fail to engage the help. The third theme was having a philosophy or perspective to draw on, with a participation rate of 44% (4/9) and six items. One participant stated, "I think the more you go through changes in life the more you recognize that change is just part of life and usually it works out" (Participant 13). Another talked about the transforming experience of reading several books because of "the philosophies in there and approaches which I've modified to suit my own style" (Participant 6). She stressed the importance of not just having a philosophy and deciding on strategies, 153 but also on implementing them (taking action). This is similar to Participant 13's comment above about taking action by talking to her support network. The fourth theme was the person's attitude, with a participation rate of 44% (4/9) and four items. Several participants spoke about various attitudes that helped them deal with change better now than they had previously. One participant mentioned the "ability to put things behind me" (Participant 12), another said, "I am ready for the change" (Participant 19), and a third talked about "being adaptable" (Participant 20). The final theme was that of self-awareness, with a participation rate of 22% (2/9) and six items. One participant stated, "I know myself well so I am aware of how I respond to change, which is usually negatively at first and then I work my way up the curve so I manage it" (Participant 10). It is evident from this quote that self-awareness was part of her success; taking action by managing herself and her reactions appears to be an equally important part. Another participant said, "I know what I like and I think it's definitely a huge part ... I know what I like and I'm learning what I am good at" (Participant 12). Although these themes have been presented as separate entities, the participants almost always mentioned items that fit into one theme in combination with items that fit into a different theme. One example was a participant who talked about having a philosophy and strategies, then stressed the importance of taking the necessary actions to put the philosophy and strategies into effective use (Participant 6). Another example was a participant's awareness of her reaction to change, then the need to take action to either manage or accept it (Participant 10). A final 154 example was the experience of changes over time in combination with developing a philosophy or belief that things would work out (Participant 13). What many of these participants' responses had in common was either an awareness of a reduction in the negative reactions experienced, or a shortening of the cycle time from resistance to acceptance and action. Although at first it appeared as if age might be a factor in achieving awareness or a shortened cycle time, closer inspection revealed the two youngest participants in the study, at ages 20 and 24, offered several of these reflections. The other seven participants who contributed their insights were age^ d 32, 33, 43, 50, 52, 53, and 57, so it appears age was not the only factor involved. Participants who responded both "yes" and "no". If a participant replied "yes" they had always handled change well, no further questions were asked about this point and the interviewer moved on to gather the demographic information. If the participant replied "no" they had not always handled change well, or both "yes and no", two additional questions were asked: "If not, when did this change for you?" and "What happened that caused you to begin handling change well?" Two participants responded both "yes and no" to the question about whether they had always handled change well. Both were male, one in his forties and the other in his fifties. Participant 8 stated, "Yes - major changes; I get fried on the little things and still do". Participant 14 stated, "I don't think change has ever been a strength of mine at one level. At another level I would say yeah". A similar dichotomy was found in others' responses when talking about their ability to handle 155 change well. For example, Participant 2 spoke about being able to handle change at work better than change at home. Participant 11 talked about handling change where she had some control and the situation was less emotionally charged better than change where she had no control and the situation was highly emotional. These are discussed in more detail below with responses to the question, "What happened that caused you to begin handling change well?" Participants who responded "no". Of the eight participants who responded "no", they had not always handled change well, there was a 50/50 split between women and men; four (50%) were in their fifties, two (25%) were in their forties, one (12.5%) was in his thirties, and one (12.5%) was in her twenties. Of the 10 participants who responded no, or both yes and no to the question about whether they had always handled change well, 90% (9/10) provided insights about when this had changed and what had caused them to start handling change well. The tenth participant spoke at length after this question was asked, but ultimately produced no usable information. In fact, all 10 of these participants reported difficulties with this question. Those who were able to provide some insight did so in a disjointed and unclear manner. Analysis of the responses revealed that they fell into two general categories: (1) what changed and when it changed so they were now able to handle change well; or (2) patterns they had observed in situations where they were or were not able to handle change well. Seven participants provided information for the first category about what had changed, and when, that enabled them to now handle change well. Their responses are summarized below in Table 8. 156 Table 8: Timing/Triggers for Starting to Handle Change Well Part. # Timing of Change What Triggered the Change? 5 7 years ago (at age 32) In a rut in her life; moved to another province but it did not work out so she returned to BC; she took action, liked the results, and learned that when you take action good things happen. 14 7-8 years ago (in his late 30's) Began to understand the emotional impact of change through a combination of significant losses that broke through his emotional protection. 18 No idea No idea when or how things changed for her; just thrown into it. 16 37 years ago (at age 20) Lying in bed one morning with no catalyst or situation causing the insight; just decided that every day was going to be a good day, regardless of what happened. 9 25 years ago (at age 34) People like his wife and daughters calling him on it. 4 6-7 years ago (at age 20) More living under his belt. Developed a philosophical lens through which to view the world. 19 15 years ago (at age 35) "I can't answer that question." 157 Consistent with participants' reported difficulties recalling and articulating what had changed and when, the two most succinct responses to this question came from Participant 19, who stated, "I can't answer that question", and from Participant 18, who stated she had no idea when or how things changed for her, she was just more or less thrown into it. The other five participants' responses were often rambling, off topic, and seemed to reflect each participant's attempt to make sense of this by talking about it "in the moment" during the interview. The ages of these participants ranged from 27 to 59; the five who had some idea regarding when things had altered had been handling change well for periods ranging from six or seven years up to 37 years. Only Participant 5 (age 39) could identify a specific trigger that caused her to start handling change well. She recounted a story about finding herself in a rut in her life and unable to find work in her field where she lived, so she moved to another province. Things did not work out for her there, so she moved back to her original province. The reason this stood out as a turning point was the fact she took action, things worked out well in the long run, and she liked the results. She thus learned that when you take action good things happen, and she has been taking action ever since. Another individual, Participant 16 (age 57), recalled waking up one morning and lying in bed trying to decide what kind of day he was going to have. He reported v no trigger event, just a realization that the kind of day he was going to have was not dictated by the events that occurred after he got out of bed, but rather by his attitude before he got out of bed. He decided every day was going to be a good day, and he has been living that philosophy ever since. 158 The remaining three participants' responses ranged from coming to understand the emotional impact of change after a combination of significant losses broke through his emotional protection (Participant 14), to having his wife and daughter call him on his attitude towards change (Participant 9), to having more living under his belt (Participant 4). No one reported specific triggers or incidents, even after probing and giving them time to think about it. From their perspectives it seemed to have simply evolved over time. Nine participants provided information about the second general category, that of patterns they had observed in situations where they were or were not able to handle change well. Some themes did emerge from the 52 items mentioned, although they are difficult to interpret because again the responses were disjointed and hard to follow. Table 9 lists the five themes and patterns that arose from participants' comments, along with the participation rates and frequencies for each theme. 159 Table 9: What Changed so now Handling Change Well? Theme Participants (N = 9) Incidents n % n Experience/evolution over time 6 66.7 11 Attitude 4 44.4 15 Developing a philosophy/perspective 4 44.4 10 Taking control 4 44.4 9 Emotions 4 44.4 7 160 The first theme was that of living, gaining experience, and an evolution over time, with a 66.7% participation rate (6/9) and 11 items. When asked whether there was an incident or specific thing that came up that helped participants deal more effectively with change, one participant summed it up best when he said, "It was more experience ... I think it was an evolution" (Participant 2). Another person stated, "I'd say that looking back I have certainly learned to improve how I handle change" (Participant 19). Others mentioned that the more times you deal with something effectively, the more likely you are to believe you are effective and the less time it takes you to deal with it the next time it comes up. Others mentioned learning that taking action leads to good results; and still others talked about the impacts of travelling. Common to these items was a learning component that was perceived and described by many participants as an "evolution". The second theme was that of attitude, with a 44.4% participation rate (4/9) and 15 items. Included in this theme were items such as being able to accept a change in order to be able to accept what's happening (Participant 16); recognizing that how one thinks about the change affects how one handles it (Participant 18); and enjoying change (Participant 19). It also included approaching change with confidence. One participant said, "I have probably developed a sense of confidence when at work" (Participant 2), which he said helped him deal with change at work more effectively than change at home. He said this was because he lacked the same confidence at home. Another participant stated, "I am able to meet those challenges, whatever happens, I have the skills to manage whatever has to happen" (Participant 18). 161 The third theme was that of developing a philosophy or perspective, with a 44.4% participation rate (4/9) and 10 items. One participant mentioned "the evolution of a life philosophy" that worked in conjunction with experiencing life and loss, as well as the lack of "a philosophical lens through which to view the world" in his high school years that made it difficult to handle change well (Participant 4). Another mentioned keeping in mind that it is just a company when faced with, change at work (Participant 19). This theme also includes finding a purpose or meaning in everything, "No matter what you go through in life, it's what you make of it and what meaning you ascribe to it" (Participant 16). What these appeared to have in common was the mitigating impact on participants' negative reactions to change of having a life philosophy or perspective, and the way it enhanced their ability to weather changes as they occurred. It appears that the evolution of their philosophy or perspective helped them to begin handling change well over time. The fourth theme was that of taking control, with a participation rate of 44.4% (4/9) and nine items. An example of a statement made that fit into this theme was, "I must be controlling this change, it must be a part of me when it happens" (Participant 11). Another participant took a different approach with respect to control: "I try not to tie everything down, to plan, to try and control everything" (Participant 18). A third participant said, "I certainly can see what I do as work having a lot do with who I am as a person, but I don't see an organization as being in control of that" (Participant 19). This was about having a voice in decision-making rather than having things imposed. Commonalities among these items are wanting a voice, having flexibility, and recognizing that one is ultimately in control of one's 162 future, regardless of what the company or the changes being faced might indicate. The final theme was that of emotions, with a 44.4% participation rate (4/9) and seven items. Participants provided examples of both positive and negative emotions that are included together under this theme. Specific items included doing well with work changes but not doing well with a marriage breakdown situation because of the strong emotions involved; anger getting in the way in the past; quick changes causing frustration or anger; lack of anger; and feeling disgruntled. These appear to be more about what prevented the participants from handling change well in the past than they are about what helped participants handle change well, and it is not clear how these items contributed to the participants' ability to begin handling change well. What they all have in common is awareness by participants of their reactions, of how their reactions to change differed depending on the situation, of the difference between their ability to handle change affecting their work versus their ability to handle change affecting their personal lives, and of the overall effect emotions have on their ability to handle change well. 4.3 Critical Incident Results Following the contextual component of the interview, during which background information was gathered about each participant, the critical incident questions were introduced. This part of the interview was intended to gather data relating to the core research question of the current study, namely what helps or hinders workers who experience changes affecting their work in handling it well? The first interviews yielded a total of 294 helping and hindering critical 163 incidents and wish list items, broken down as follows: 184 (63%) helping critical incidents; 63 (21%) hindering critical incidents; and 47 (16%) wish list items. While analyzing the data from the first interviews, nine potential critical incidents were flagged for follow-up with the participants during the second interviews. These were items mentioned by participants that sounded like they might be helping factors but for which no supporting details were obtained at the time. During the second interviews, participants confirmed eight of these items were critical incidents and provided supporting details. This information was then added to ATLAS/ti and coded for inclusion in the final results. One potential helping critical incident was deemed by the participant not to be an incident in its own right but rather a statement of importance in support of an already existing helping critical incident. The second interviews also yielded five new helping critical incidents that were added after the participants had reviewed and reflected upon the results of their first interviews. For these five new critical incidents, the participants confirmed they had relied on these factors at the time of the first interview but had forgotten to mention them. These new incidents were added to ATLAS/ti and coded in the same manner as the data from the first interviews. No other critical incidents or wish list items from the first interviews were amended or deleted. Following the second interviews, there were a total of 307 helping and hindering critical incidents and wish list items, broken down as follows: 197 (64%) helping critical incidents; 63 (21%) hindering critical incidents; and 47 (15%) wish list items. Two hindering critical incidents were removed from the results because they were general in nature and did not have supporting details. Both incidents were 164 statements to the effect that not having the helping critical incidents they had just discussed made it difficult for them to handle change well. The final total of critical incidents and wish list items included in the results was therefore 305 (197 helping; 61 hindering; and 47 wish list). As discussed in Chapter Three, items were placed into categories that were created based on the data from the study. Participation rates for each category were calculated by dividing the number of participants who mentioned items fitting into a particular category by the total number of participants (N = 20). Borgen and Amundson's (1984) suggested participation rate of 25% was used to determine category viability. All 10 categories met the 25% participation rate test under one or more of the helping, hindering, or wish list headings. Table 10 summarizes the categories, the total number of items in each category, and the participation rates. The results pertaining to each category are discussed in detail following the table using the following format: (1) the name of the category; (2) the total number of incidents reported in that category; (3) a breakdown of the number of incidents in each of the helping, hindering, and wish list groups with the participation rates reported; and (4) definitions and representative participant quotes for the helping factors, then the hindering factors, and finally the wish list items. 165 Table 10: Critical Incident and Wish List Categories Helping Critical Incidents {N =197) Hindering Critical Incidents (/V=61) Wish List Items (N = 47) Participants (N = 20) Inci-dents Participants (N = 20) Inci-dents Participants (N = 20) Inci-dents Category n % n n % n n % n Personal Attitudes/ Traits/Emotional Set 16 80 45 4 20 5 0 0 0 Support from Friends and Family 15 75 27 0 0 0 1 5 1 Internal Framework and Boundaries 12 60 28 0 0 0 2 10 2 Taking Action 11 55 24 1 5 1 3 15 3 Self-care 11 55 24 1 5 2 2 10 3 Support from Professionals 10 50 12 0 0 0 4 20 4 Management Style & Work Environment 9 45 18 16 80 43 11 55 25 Skill/Role Competence 6 30 7 0 0 0 6 30 7 Support from Work Colleagues 5 25 8 3 15 3 0 0 0 Personal Life Changes/Issues 4 20 4 6 30 7 2 10 2 166 4.3.1 Category 1: Personal Traits/Attitudes/Emotional Set. The "Personal Traits/Attitudes/Emotional Set" category had a total of 50 incidents, broken down as follows: 45 (90%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 80% contributed by 16 participants; five (10%) were hindering incidents with a participation rate of 20% contributed by four participants; and no wish list items were cited that fit into this category. The helping category included incidents where participants described their personal traits, attitudes (or changes thereto), expectations, awareness, and set of emotions (or ways of dealing with emotions) as being helpful to them in handling change well. Examples of helping incidents were being optimistic or insightful, having confidence, feeling responsible for one's own life, and emotionally letting things go. The positive outcomes arising from this category included being aware there would be good and bad days, thus recognizing the need to postpone decisions until a good day; being able to keep an even keel in the face of change; minimizing the risk of things blowing up in their faces; having increased energy to deal with change; and feeling purposeful. Some participant quotes illustrate a few of these outcomes: I had to accept that I was going to have good days and bad days and that in many circumstances when I was having a bad day I really had to be aware of it and accept it, but also understand that I shouldn't be making any decisions that affect other people when I'm having that bad day. So, learning to put decisions off sometimes by a couple of days until I knew that I was making one on a good day. I didn't feel like I was using up a lot of energy fighting something that was going to happen and I wasn't suppressing the feeling. I think that helped keep a more even keel, to recognize that I was having a natural reaction. (Participant 19) Going into my new position [feeling happy] gave me more of an edge or motivation to do well on the job. (Participant 3) 167 [Having a personality that likes being busy] I feel more purposeful. I feel really productive and for me that is really important. And so when I was running around experiencing this change, I felt good because I felt like I was moving places. What came from that was feeling purposeful and feeling like I was progressing in my work ...I still felt like I was moving and I was moving in some sort of positive direction. (Participant 12) The hindering category included incidents where participants cited their personality, attitudes or emotional set as preventing them from handling change well. Examples of hindering incidents were worrying, withdrawing from people or situations, and feeling anxious. The primary negative outcomes arising from these hindering incidents were resistance to change and decreased effectiveness at work. An example illustrates, It created resistance. As much as I wanted to learn and wanted to take on these new opportunities, part of me felt like well, I don't know if I could do it, I don't know if I've got the skills, I don't know if I've got the knowledge, I probably shouldn't even be doing this because I don't know what I'm talking about and so there was some insecurity around what I knew and what I don't know in dealing with clients in this new area ... and it [took] some time worrying about my abilities. I would internally fight it and be like, oh I don't want to do this. (Participant 1) 4.3.2 Category 2: Support from Friends and Family. The "Support from Friends and Family" category had a total of 28 incidents, broken down as follows: 27 (96%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 75% contributed by 15 participants; no hindering incidents were cited that fit into this category; and one (4%) was a wish list item with a participation rate of 5% contributed by one participant. The helping category included incidents where friends and family members cared, helped, empathized, listened, validated, respected and encouraged participants, as well as offered alternative perspectives and practical support. Examples of helping incidents included the effects of their 168 home upbringing, as well as talking with or receiving support from a spouse and friends, having emotionally grounded friends, and re-establishing personal safety nets. The positive outcomes arising from receiving support from friends and family included knowing there was access to help if needed; getting another perspective through which to understand the changes being faced and perhaps coming up with new options; having a safe haven to retreat to and in which to talk about what was happening; feeling confident and secure that allowed people to take risks; and feeling valued in one arena even if the person wasn't feeling valued in another. Following are examples of some helping quotes from participants: I had all these friends so that really helped, again another perspective, another observer, different point of view helps put it all in perspective, plus my husband had a chronic condition so for him breathing was hard, so that would usually help ground me again, to really put things in perspective because I could breathe. So very powerful, and the same with family members ... just somebody to talk to that's not intimately involved, a safe place to vent, and you need to vent and think out loud so it helps me see other options and stuff. (Participant 10) Well, the greatest way my wife helps me ... is that I know I'm totally, unconditionally loved by her. Some changes in life affect you badly, and my value as a person isn't tied to whatever success, it's tied to me, as a person. And I'm loved as that person and that's a real secure feeling. It gives me freedom, confidence, security to try new things and take some risks. (Participant 16) The wish list category included incidents where participants wished they had received emotional and practical support from friends and family, or that they had more of it. The single wish list item arising in this category was a desire for support from other members of the participant's family. The main outcome of having more family support would have been encouragement and support for her decision, as illustrated by this participant's comments: 169 Because the support comes from my mom, and [not] from my dad and my siblings, so I guess more support from family and I think that would be encouraging to have that and to know that they support the decision to be here too. (Participant 20) Having this support would have freed up the participant's energy so she had more to devote to handling the changes she was facing. 4.3.3 Category 3: Internal Framework and Boundaries. The "Internal Framework and Boundaries" category had a total of 30 incidents, broken down as follows: 28 (93%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 60% contributed by 12 participants; no hindering incidents were cited that fit into this category; and two (7%) were wish list items with a participation rate of 10% contributed by two participants. The helping category included incidents where participants described dealing with change via an internal framework, philosophy or approach to life that reflected a set of beliefs (both religious/spiritual and not), personal and professional boundaries, convictions and purpose, perspective, and instincts. Examples of helpful critical incidents included a person's spirituality or religion, philosophy of the job, beliefs about what is important in life, ability to put things into perspective through hindsight or prior experience, establishing work/life boundaries, and not being defined by others. The positive outcomes of these helping incidents included having structure around the job that assisted with job-related decisions; increased confidence and freedom to make decisions; reduced worry and regret about things; and in the case of spiritual beliefs, a sense of trust that things would work out as well as a sense of connection. The following participant quotes illustrate some of these points: 170 So you, you have that boundary around you and that boundary is, this is the way I do the job, this is my underlying philosophy of the job ... you have a philosophical stance as to how you feel the job should be done and with that you have a certain number of tests as to what fits that and what doesn't. (Participant 2) Well, I believe in God so I believe that ultimately everything is in His hands so I don't think I worry about it as much as other people, I guess there is a trust if whatever doesn't work out then God will have an alternate idea or plan. It definitely lets me be more at ease with everything ... I don't get anxious about my interviews, I am more confident because of it. If you want to talk about sense of connection then I would reserve it strictly to spirituality even though I am married and I have friends for like 25 years, I don't feel a connection like I do spiritually. (Participant 4) The wish list category included incidents where participants stated a wish to have had (or have had a better understanding of) an internal framework, philosophy or approach to life that reflected a set of beliefs (both religious/spiritual and not), personal and professional boundaries, convictions and purpose, perspective, and instincts. Examples of wish list items were a desire to think about oneself in the job differently and to re-assess one's beliefs. The primary outcome of having an internal framework or boundaries would have been starting the transition process earlier by creating a boundary between the individual and the job. The following participant quote best describes this: Because what I want to do is to start seeing myself emotionally and mentally transitioning out of this present job... .transitioning into another role even though the end role is not clear. I need to challenge myself now to be more of an external person in terms of outside the office and building ... it's really now starting to take the time to effect the change and how I see myself in my job and separating myself out from the job, seeing myself differently. It's difficult to describe because I'm just getting my head around it. (Participant 6) 4.3.4 Category 4: Taking Action. The "Taking Action" category had a total of 28 incidents, broken down as follows: 24 (85.7%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 55% 171 contributed by 11 participants; one (3.6%) was a hindering incident with a participation rate of 5% contributed by one participant; and three (10.7%) were wish list items with a participation rate of 15% contributed by three participants. The helping category included incidents that suggested the individual took an action rather than being passive in the face of change. Some examples of helpful mental strategies were distracting oneself from the negativity of change, preparing for and looking to the future, self-motivating, exploring options, developing ideas and making decisions. Physical actions included researching and solving problems, getting involved, networking, and taking risks or trying new things. Specific examples were looking ahead and seeing future trends, keeping oneself motivated, exercising options, exploring opportunities (including new jobs), setting goals and writing them down, and being proactive. Positive outcomes of these helping incidents resulted in participants feeling they were not limited, they were able to experience change and life more fully, they had more interesting work and felt greater work satisfaction; and they were able try new things. The following participant quotes illustrate the importance of these incidents: [Exercising my options] allows me to try different things, see different places, experience different things, experience as much of life as I can. I'm not limited and I can experience change and experience life more fully. (Participant 15) [Exploring other opportunities] gives me a new challenge; adds interest to my work repertoire, which is really important. It helps keep me looking forward; opens up opportunities and options for me so that greater work satisfaction becomes a possibility. (Participant 8) The hindering category included one incident where the individual did not take action in the form of creating a change plan, and therefore was more passive in the 172 face of change. Not taking action led to feelings of frustration, feelings of being ineffective at work, and lower productivity, as evidenced by the following quote: [Not having a change plan] was just irritating you know more than anything and frustrating ... so of course it impacted my productivity and effectiveness. (Participant 10) The wish list category encompassed participants' expressed desires to be more active and less passive when dealing with changes in much the same way as the helping critical incidents. Examples of specific wish list items were the desire to carve out time for networking, to develop professional connections, to be more proactive, take chances, and make more decisions. Participants thought that taking action would result in an increased sense of connection and reduced feelings of isolation, a larger network to call upon if needed, increased job effectiveness, and more control. The following participant's quote highlights some of these anticipated positive outcomes: [Developing professional connections in other ways] would just get rid of one of those negatives of change ...a major part of teaching is enjoying working with colleagues, there's an exchange there, a connection and support. So no longer would the coworker thing be a negative ... what I anticipate it would be is that I would meet new coworkers and make new connections. Not having those connections made it more difficult to do my job better, being unable to share books, ideas, information. (Participant 13) 4.3.5 Category 5: Self-care. The "Self-care" category had a total of 29 incidents, broken down as follows: 24 (83%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 55% contributed by 11 participants; two (7%) were hindering incidents with a participation rate of 5% contributed by one participant; and three (10%) were wish list incidents with a participation rate of 10% contributed by two participants. The helping incidents were 173 those where participants described healthy, positive, growth/learning, self-affirming, and self-soothing activities that filled their physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and change processing needs, thus enabling them to handle change well. Examples of incidents were physical exercise, living conditions (e.g., living in the country, living in a beautiful place), having pets, engaging in hobbies, educational pursuits, and balancing work and social life. The positive outcomes arising from the helping incidents included balance or stability; stress reduction; perspective or seeing the big picture; increased patience; the ability to take on more work; and having a sense of being connected to something other than work. The following participant quotes highlight some of these outcomes: Also, when I am stressed or anxious, I am able to leave work behind for a time by doing a physical activity that allows me to shift my focus. Often this break and the activity actually reduces the stress. (Participant 8) Having a dog is the fulfillment of a childhood dream and also just the pleasure of having a warm furry pet. It helps to know even if things are hard at work I can look forward to my interaction with my dog, that work is never 100% encompassing. It also gets me out of myself so I walk in the woods, on the property or beach - it's a connection away from more weighty things by reminding me there is beauty around. It restores a purposefulness to do good. Knowing I'm OK offsets the uncertainty at work - it's a stabilizing or balancing quality. (Participant 7) I feel the stress fade away when I have a massage every 2-3 weeks; walking helps me see nature, birds - realize I am part of a bigger system. That changes my focus, gives some perspective; I feel more relaxed physically and emotionally. It helps me see the larger picture, helps me lighten up. It increases my energy; opens up my mind so I'm able to take on more work. It also helps increase my patience. (Participant 18) The hindering incidents were those where participants described the negative impacts of failing to engage in healthful, positive, growth/learning, self-affirming, and self-soothing activities. Examples of hindering incidents included lack of time to 174 engage in self-care activities, and not doing the self-care things the person knew worked. The impacts of failing to engage in self-care activities included feeling less in control and having less time for introspection, which translated into being less able to take action and having less energy, as the following quote highlights: [So not doing those things that I know work] makes me feel less inner directed. That's where a lot of my energy was coming from, that sense of inner direction so that introspection time and thinking and processing time translates directly into my ability to take action and make things happen so when I'm not spending the time doing that, then it interrupts that whole cycle. (Participants) The wish list items were similar to the helping critical incidents but in which the participant did not engage. Specific wish list items were the desire for a tenor banjo, for more distractions, and for self improvement. It was thought that engaging in more self-care activities would have increased feelings of escape and pleasure from the difficulties experienced at work: [Getting a tenor banjo] would have provided greater distraction, aided in life, and made things easier. It's a way to escape the work problems, to experience some pleasure. (Participant 9) 4.3.6 Category 6: Support from Professionals. The "Support from Professionals" category had a total of 16 incidents, broken down as follows: 12 (75%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 50% contributed by 10 participants; no. hindering incidents were cited that fit into this category; and four (25%) were wish list items with a participation rate of 20% contributed by four participants. The helping incidents were those where being supported by a professional helped participants deal with change. Specific incidents in this category were working with a professional coach, seeing a counsellor, and receiving assistance from consultants, mediators, or outplacement professionals. 175 The positive outcomes of support from professionals were having a new perspective; receiving acknowledgement, encouragement, and increasing faith in oneself; and having a sense of forward momentum. There was also a sense of having someone to rely on, and a chance to learn from someone with expertise that perhaps the participant lacked or wanted to increase. The following quotes illustrate: I have a coach now too, there's support... he just supported me through that process ... somebody you can talk to about something that's happened at work. The coach would give me the self-confidence and the strokes, I guess, to encourage me to keep doing it, more than your spouse or friend because their role is one of acknowledgment and encouragement, they make you believe in yourself and he, so he got me through ... a coach that also has expertise that can support you in the business. (Participant 11) This was a decision I work with a coach to help keep me on track in terms of being disciplined about moving things forward, because otherwise it would be easy to just get bogged down. One of the challenges that I've been working with my coach on a lot is how can I see this situation differently. One of the things that's very helpful for me about my coach is that he pushes me all the time to um focus not just on how I think about something but how I feel about something. (Participants) The wish list items were those where participants expressed a desire to have received support from someone in a professional capacity. Specific wish list items mentioned were the desire for a mentor, support from a specific professional organization to help deal with workplace change, and an expert available to help with the task at hand. The anticipated positive outcomes from having had this kind of support included increased knowledge about the industry, support, feedback, and a nudge when needed to get the participant moving forward. One quote from a participant who wished she had been able to work with a mentor is given here: [A mentor], someone I knew in the industry that I could talk to and give me some support; give me some feedback on how to work through those things. It would of helped me to be more proactive instead of going with the flow - a mentor would have had inside info to warn me of changes in the industry and 176 to prepare myself. A mentor could have pushed or nudged me to work on my areas of weakness instead of my ignoring those and concentrating on what I was already good at. [A mentor] could have introduced me to networking contacts to advance my career so I would have had options when the industry changed, and made me feel more confident to handle change by being a sounding board. (Participant 5) 4.3.7 Category 7: Management Style and Work Environment. The "Management Style and Work Environment" category had a total of 86 incidents, broken down as follows: 18 (21%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 45% contributed by nine participants; 43 (50%) were hindering incidents with a participation rate of 80% contributed by 16 participants; and 25 (29%) were wish list items with a participation rate of 55% contributed by 11 participants. The helping incidents were those where participants described management styles, working conditions and/or healthy, supportive work environments as helping them handle change. Examples of specific helping incidents were the way in which workplace conflict was dealt with, having the ability to communicate with a supervisor, receiving helpful feedback from a boss, getting help from management or HR, working with a professional and knowledgeable work group, and having comfortable/flexible working conditions. Positive outcomes of these helping critical incidents included feeling in control, having information on which to make informed decisions, feeling supported, having freedom about how to implement the corporate vision within one's own role, a sense of having been fairly treated, and increased energy and creativity that resulted in increased productivity. Some participant quotes highlight a few of these outcomes: [I] felt in control of my life, I wasn't left wondering and I got to create my situation. The company is being fairly supportive, being good about 177 restructuring my role down to part-time. The company president lined up a meeting for me with an executive in another company to help with my job search, which was a shot in the arm that the president thinks so highly of me. (Participant 8) Their sensitivity, my coworkers and how they treat conflict in the department, they are sensitive and gentle and supportive. It just makes for a gentler work place, less demanding, less stressful. Physically I can work harder if there isn't the emotional drain on me. If I'm emotionally caught up in the mental gymnastics of "what do you want from me, what do you expect from me?" I have less desire, less challenge, I'm less motivated to put it into my work. I only have so much energy I guess, and I put it into what is most demanding, and if I'm playing mental gym with you trying to figure out what you want from me, I have less time to put into my work. Whereas here I'm not playing those games, mental games with people, I am able to be very focused, very directed to put that energy into my work, so I can do 10 things at once, and accomplish them, and feel more satisfied that I accomplished them. (Participant 3) Hindering incidents were workplace related items that made it more difficult for participants to handle change well. Some specific hindering items were having change thrust upon them without consultation or input, lack of proper training, people not telling the truth, unfair compensation, budget and resource cuts, not having clerical support, no management support, and poor job prospects. The negative impacts arising from lack of management support included exhaustion, discontent, decreased effectiveness on the job, self-doubt, and the desire to escape. Lack of proper communication also led participants to feel they were not being fairly treated and left them feeling confused and isolated. Some of these are captured in the following two quotes: ...the funder was not able to understand in a way that I recognized at least and respond to the, I don't want to use really strong words here although, unrealistic time lines, unrealistic demands, inability or unwillingness, I don't know which word they would use to recognize what they were asking of us to accomplish, and being able to actually give us the help we need (Participant 14) 178 [Lack of proper training was] time consuming; I had to fumble through for hours trying to figure something out. It led to increased frustration; I couldn't control it and had that "what can I do?" feeling. I felt not qualified for the job, and felt insecure. I knew case management theory but needed orientation to applying it. I had to rely on myself for a little while, and kept reminding myself I have the skills. No orientation or training led to self-doubt, doubt about my decision to take the job. I wanted to flee. (Participant 5) The wish list items were those where participants expressed a desire for a more helpful management style or better working conditions. Specific wish list items mentioned were wanting nicer physical workspaces, inclusion by management, a 35-hour work week, more appropriate timelines for effecting change, more effective technology tools, and better communication at work. Participants thought these items would have increased their feelings of being fairly treated, of being recognized and rewarded for their contributions to the organization, of being in work that is a good fit for them, and being able to carve out time for them to pursue other personal and professional training. One participant talked about wishing he could work a 35-hour week and why that was important to him: Part of the reason I'm staying there 40 hours is if I dropped my hours from 40 to 35 I would have just lost income and I can't afford to lose income. I tried to negotiate a 35-hour week with the same salary, I would have settled for that if I could have got that, and that's because of stuff I want to do in my personal life ... I'm starting a course for myself this Spring, which is one of the reasons I've got to have the free time to do my schooling and that's one thing I'm really worried. I can't give up my time any more. I can't do more than 40 hours; I have to have my time for my schooling. (Participant 14) 4.3.8 Category 8: Skill/Role Competence. The "Skill/Role Competence" category had a total of 14 incidents, broken down as follows: seven (50%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 30% contributed by six participants; no hindering incidents were cited that fit into this category; and seven (50%) were wish list items with a participation rate of 30% 179 contributed by six participants. The helping category included incidents in which participants suggested their experience and skill/role competence contributed to helping them deal with change. Examples of incidents in this category were being good at time management, doing well as a student at school or university, and having management consulting experience. Positive outcomes of these helping incidents included feeling as though they had options and were not limited to only doing the work they were currently doing; having a sense of being able to cope with the demands of the current job; being able to have some work-life balance; and feeling they were good at something when events around them made them feel unsure about their abilities. It also appeared to provide a sense of accomplishment. The following quotes highlight some of these outcomes: I've done [management consulting] before; I am a Certified Management Consultant; I can tell myself I can pursue consulting with some credibility. (Participant 8) I feel like I manage my time appropriately and then that gives me the freedom to walk away from the job and so that means I am supporting the work balance, that I can still walk away at night. (Participant 11) The wish list category included incidents where participants suggested having certain skills, experiences, or competencies would have helped them deal with change more effectively. Examples of items in this category were the desire for formal skill training to increase their technical competence levels, better time management skills, and taking their role of student more seriously by going to school more often and thus achieving better grades. Participants anticipated that having greater skills or role competence would give them more career options, open doors for them in other areas of the company, provide them with a competitive edge, give 180 them more time for reflection and planning, or help them be more effective in doing the work. One participant who wished he had better time management skills provided the following quote: If I had better time management I think I would be able to know how to fit in certain things more easily so it wouldn't be such a big change, or it wouldn't be such a challenging change. It would come much more easily if I had better time management. But I definitely think that that would ease the process of change because ... it's that sense of feeling in control and if you have time you are able to not just be go go go without really thinking of things. So it is not enjoyable because I feel rushed or pressured and so I think having time management and knowing how to run my time better it would clearly help me to deal with this change. (Participant 12) 4.3.9 Category 9: Support from Work Colleagues. The "Support from Work Colleagues" category had a total of 11 incidents, broken down as follows: eight (73%) were helping incidents with a participation rate of 25% contributed by five participants; three (27%) were hindering incidents with a participation rate of 15% contributed by three participants; and no wish list items were cited that fit into this category. The helping category included incidents where participants described being supported by coworkers and colleagues who cared, helped, empathized, listened, validated, respected and encouraged participants, as well as offered alternative perspectives. Examples of helping incidents were working relationships with specific coworkers; support from staff, customers or clients where the person worked; or support from other professional colleagues (e.g. people at other agencies or in other offices). Positive outcomes from these critical incidents included connection, emotional and professional support, access to work-related resources that increased job effectiveness, different perspectives on work-related issues, increased control, and the ability to get more work done through the informal 181 work networks that form an important part of any organization. One participant talked about the importance of having colleagues at work who were also friends: [My colleagues are friends and] they are willing to question, listen, reflect with me. They have similar values and they understand me. It helps me gain more clarity about how I want to proceed with issues. With my colleagues there I don't feel stuck, frustrated, or helpless. I am able to make changes; therefore that helps me cope better. It also lets me be part of creating change, not just a witness or having things done to me. (Participant 7) The hindering incidents were those where participants described (1) not being supported by coworkers and colleagues emotionally, psychologically, or in conducting their work; or (2) missing coworkers and colleagues with whom they had previously worked. Specific hindering incidents cited were missing coworkers from a previous work location, and experiencing conflicts with a colleague who thought a particular job should be his/hers. Negative outcomes arising from not having colleague support included feeling isolated, lacking resources, having to deal with another layer of problems on top of changes already needing time and attention, not having access to other points of view, and being less effective professionally. A participant who had been promoted into a new position that a colleague thought rightfully belonged to her provided the following participant quote in explaining how her colleague's actions had made things difficult for her: So I was feeling undermined. I guess for me it's a part of my self-confidence in the role so I might have struggled a bit in the beginning being concerned about not knowing the work and so maybe I tend to pack it away and not express myself. It's the old thing of looking stupid, and it's possible that that affected me as I moved through in the change. (Participant 11) 4.3.10 Category 10: Personal Life Changes/Issues. The "Personal Life Changes/Issues" category had a total of 13 incidents, broken down as follows: four (31%) were helping incidents with a participation rate 182 of 20% contributed by four participants; seven (54%) were hindering incidents with a participation rate of 30% contributed by six participants; and two (15%) were wish list items with a participation rate of 10% contributed by two participants. The helping incidents were those where positive events or situations that arose out of personal relationships, health, finances, or life-cycle transitions outside of work helped participants do well with change. Specific helping incidents included having sufficient finances, a stable home life, and grown children so the participant had more time for him/herself. Positive outcomes of these incidents included having a sense of stability in one area of life that made it possible to deal with change elsewhere, and reduced worry about unexpected financial expenditures or upcoming retirement. The following quote is from a participant who talked about the importance of not changing things at home: Because there is so much that I don't have control over at work, I maintain the patterns at home in order to maintain some kind of stability ... it gives you a small sort of centre or a small platform you can feel comfortable with. And feeling comfortable stops me from going insane, I mean maintain your identity. I think you have to maintain a certain sense of self and that helps you to do that. (Participant 2) The hindering incidents were those arising out of personal relationships, health or life-cycle transitions that made it more difficult for participants to do well with change. Examples included health problems, aging, menopause, the death of a family member, family turmoil, and moving. Negative outcomes of these hindering incidents included feeling afraid, being out of control, not having a secure base to depend on when dealing with other changing situations, and worry about finances. The following quote is from a man who spoke about the death of his mother and how it impacted his work: 183 The loss of my mother who died in December. It was a major thing that challenged me emotionally, took me away from my work, in body as well as mental distraction. It's an emotional strain losing a mother, a loved one. It was all-encompassing at the time ... took me totally away from my work; previously I had felt committed to my work despite my employer's devaluation of my work. (Participant 9) The wish list items would have helped participants do even better with change had they been available and included wishing for more money, having fully independent children, realizing relationship goals, and having an idea of what the future might hold. Participants anticipated that these wish list items would have given them greater freedom and financial ease, reduced their worries about handling unexpected events, and increased their sense of safety. One participant wished for greater financial resources, as the following quote highlights: I think it would have alleviated some of the stress associated with moving, and it would of have taken off some of that stress. Although at the same time it's been a walk of faith to not have any money and just be able to have that be okay and, you know, things have been provided for our house, things that I need. I think that would have made it feel like a safer transition, to have a little bit more in my bank account so that if things go wrong, then I'm able to handle them. (Participant 20) 4.4 Impact of the Interview Results One of the secondary purposes of the current study was to test the hypothesis that the experience of being interviewed and having a chance to reflect on naturally occurring helpful strategies would increase participants' sense of doing well. Data concerning the impact of the interview on participants came from two sources: (1) the results of the pre- and post-interview scaling questions; and (2) participant comments made throughout the interview. These results are discussed in the following two sections. 184 4.4.1 Scaling Question Results To test the hypothesis that the interview would increase participants' sense of doing well, the first scaling question was asked at the start of the interview; the second scaling question was asked immediately following the critical incident component near the end of the interview. Data analysis for the statistical significance portion of the study was conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 12.0. The difference between responses to the first and second scaling questions was computed by subtracting the first score from the second score, the result of which is referred to as the "doing well difference". In addition to calculating statistical significance, practical significance was also computed. Cohen's d is a standardized metric that allows researchers to describe the magnitude of an effect by calculating the difference between two sample means in terms of standard deviation from the null (B. Thompson, 1997). Effect size was calculated using the "Effect Size Calculator" recommended by Dr. B. Zumbo (personal communication, August 4, 2004) that is available at Of the 20 participants, nine (45%) had post-interview scaling question scores that were different from their pre-interview scaling question scores. Eight of the doing well differences were higher; one was lower. Using a paired sample t-test, f (19) = -1.6, p = .12, d = -.73, no statistically significant difference was found between participants' first and second scaling question scores, therefore I failed to reject Ho. However, the effect size of -.73 borders on a large difference between the sample means on the basis of Cohen's criteria, where .20 indicates a small, .50 indicates a 185 medium, and .80 indicates a large difference between two sample means (Cohen, 1992). Thus these findings appear to have practical significance even though statistical significance was not found. The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was deemed appropriate to use as both the pre- and post-interview scaling question results were quantitative in nature, and each variable produced raw scores (Huck, 2004). The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r = .77, p = .0001; r2 = .59) suggested a strong positive relationship with a 59% shared variance between these two variables (Huck, 2004). 4.4.2 Anecdotal Comments by Participants The effect size result obtained in the current study supports anecdotal reports from five participants (25%) in the present study who provided unsolicited information about the impact the interview questions had on them at different times during the interview. It is also consistent with my observations that the majority of participants appeared to experience greater insight after the interview than they did at the start of the interview. This researcher observation is in accord with Cohen's (1992) guidelines for interpreting effect size where he suggested a medium effect size would likely "be visible to the naked eye of a careful observer" (p. 156). It is therefore not surprising that with an effect size bordering on large, changes in the participants were clearly discernible at the end of the interview. In the current study, one participant with no difference between his pre- and post-interview scaling question scores stated, 186 It's funny 'cause having this discussion with you ...I've never really taken a big picture look at it, at my life and... I just find this conversation interesting actually 'cause it does help me to put things into perspective. (Participant 15) A second participant, who also had no difference in pre- and post-interview scaling question scores, gained some insight into his way of prioritizing how he was going to deal with situations as they arose. After reflecting upon one of his comments, he stated, "I hadn't really thought of that but I think that is probably really important" (Participant 2). In response to being asked whether he had always handled change well, a third participant said, "I've never thought about that before..." (Participant 14). Two other participants, both of whom had higher scores on the post-interview scaling question than on the pre-interview scaling question, also articulated ways in which the interview had impacted them, as indicated by the following quotes, (Participant's name) this isn't like you, and it's harder to stay motivated because the changes around me are so positive ... I was trying to create changes, positive changes that I could keep up with ... thus I lose 100 pounds, thus I go on a personal fitness routine, because there were certain changes I couldn't make in my job. Once I got into a better [work] situation I found I wasn't as motivated to make those other changes... Interesting, insightful moment. (Participant 3) I recognize that I do like being in control and I have always just said that to people but nobody has actually asked why and I've never given it a lot of thought but it is something that I will think of now. (Participant 12) In addition to the unsolicited information just reported, all nine participants who reported different pre- and post-interview scaling question scores were asked what made the difference. The eight participants who reported higher post-interview scores stated several reasons for the differences that fell into three broad themes: (1) having perspective (e.g., being closer to their goals than they thought; realizing they had listed more helping than hindering items; recognizing that much of what 187 happened was due to events outside their control); (2) being connected (e.g., the importance of staying in touch with people; having supportive friends/family; realizing how good their supports were and the importance of having someone listen to them); and (3) realizing they were doing better than they had thought (e.g., increased spirituality; feeling happier; having a sense of release; experiencing increased confidence). Some participant quotes highlight these themes: I feel better about where I'm at by having someone listen to me. It highlights for me the importance of connection. (Participant 8) Focus goes off me and onto other things, like outside factors. Looking back, I've gone through lots of ups and downs, probably way more than I realize. So it gave me perspective. Everything affects everything. (Participant 5) I can't think of a more perfect situation about how things have worked out ideally from my work perspective, my school perspective, my home life, friends, and how my life ... so yeah I feel much better. (Participant 19) Although eight of the nine participants had higher post-interview scores, one had a post-interview score that went down two points. In response to the question, "What made the difference", the participant offered this insight, Maybe thinking about it, just realizing all of the worrying and stress that I have been going through in the last couple of years. So even though I feel like I have adapted well with my environment and I've been able to perform and succeed and still have a job despite what has been going on, at the same time I think it has taken a toll on my energy, my sleep patterns. So definitely I think there has been this underlying stress that has been there. So even though the company would probably say wow she's really adapted to change well, and on the surface I think I have, but I have definitely experienced a lot of stress ... I'm sure a lot of it is related to change because it's been related to having to do a lot of different and new things and performing in new areas where I have been asked to perform just because of these changes. So, yeah, it has just taken a toll on me, so that's why I feel like maybe I haven't adapted as well as I could. (Participant 1) This participant came to realize during the interview how big a toll the changes had taken on her. She reported not having been aware of this until she had a chance 188 during the course of our interview to focus on what had helped and hindered her ability to handle change well. These participant comments, along with the -.73 effect size indicating practical significance, suggests the interview itself did have an impact on the participants and tended towards being helpful to them. 4.5 Summary of Chapter Four This chapter presented the results from the contextual, critical incident, and quantitative components of the 20 participant interviews undertaken for the current study. The information obtained during the contextual components of the interview was presented in summary form as it was ancillary to the primary research question, and it provided unsolicited data about what enabled participants who had always handled change well to handle it even better over the years. The information obtained about the changes experienced by participants, the impacts of those changes, and what "doing well" meant to them was also summarized. The CIT results were reported, including the total number of critical incidents and wish list items and their breakdown into 10 categories. Definitions for the categories were provided, along with frequencies and participation rates for each of them. The final section reported the results of the two scaling questions and the fact that although statistical significance was not found, practical significance was. It also reported on anecdotes offered by participants during the research interviews about the impacts of the interviews. The importance and meaning of these results are discussed in Chapter Five, which is presented next. 189 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION 5.1 Overview of Chapter Five \ This chapter begins by discussing the critical incident results, which constituted the primary purpose for which the current study was conducted. It then discusses the results of the impact of the interview on participants, followed by a discussion of the results from the contextual components of the study. An overall discussion of the study results, looking at both the critical incident and contextual data, is then presented. Limitations of the study are discussed next, followed by implications for clients and workers, implications for practitioners and theory, and suggestions for future research. The chapter ends with some concluding remarks. 5.2 Critical Incident Results The critical incident questions were intended to shed light on the main research question of the current study, namely, "What helps or hinders workers who successfully navigate and thrive when faced with changes that affect their work?" The results pertaining to the critical incident categories presented in Chapter Four are discussed in more detail in this section, as are the results of the final CIT credibility check that compares the 10 categories to the literature. 5.2.1 Comparison of Categories to Relevant Scholarly Literature As mentioned briefly in Chapter Three when discussing the credibility and trustworthiness checks undertaken for the results of the current study, support in the literature was found for all 10 categories created from the data obtained from the 190 critical incident questions asked during the first interviews. The supporting literature spans many different disciplines, including HR management, business, stress and coping, industrial and organizational psychology, vocational psychology, career counselling, psychological thriving, and others. For the purposes of the following discussion, items falling in the "Wish List" will be treated as helping incidents because participants suggested these items would have been helpful to them. Category 1: Personal Traits/Attitudes/Emotional Set. This category contained helping and hindering items, both of which were supported by the literature. Much has been written, across many disciplines, about the importance and impact of personal traits, attitudes, and emotions in successfully handling many different aspects of living. The abilities captured in the concept of emotional intelligence include persistence, self-control, zeal, and self-motivation (Goleman, 1995). Although participants in the current study did not use those exact words, many expressed ideas or used phrases that were similar, such as pushing through the fear (persistence), emotionally letting things go (self-control), being a driven or motivated person (self-motivation), and having a genuine liking for people (zeal). According to Goleman, the presence of these abilities can lead to flow, which he suggested is characterized by a feeling that a person has outdone him- or herself in some way, it was effortless and energizing. In business that would be considered a good description of high performing employees. Goleman also suggested flow is impossible to achieve if a person is tired, stressed, depressed, agitated, bored, anxious, or scared. Participants in the current study mentioned all of these, and many more negative emotions or states that would be incompatible with flow or high 191 performance and, therefore, likely detrimental to their ability to handle change well. He further suggested that when people are in the grip of negative emotions they are unable to "remember, attend, learn, or make decisions clearly" (p. 149). Many participants mentioned similar experiences when feeling angry, upset or scared. The personality construct of hardiness has been characterized by the attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge (Maddi, 2002, 2005). The participants in the current study demonstrated all three attitudes when they talked about being grateful to the organization for taking a chance on them (commitment), taking responsibility for their own lives (control), and being ready for change (challenge). However, Maddi suggested that people without commitment become detached, isolated, and alienated; those without control sink into passivity and powerlessness; and those lacking challenge avoid uncertainty and potential threats (Maddi, 2002). Participants mentioned virtually all of these tendencies. The resilience literature discussed the idea of flexibility in emotion regulation (Bonanno, 2005), which was exhibited by a number of participants when talking about relearning lightness, not taking things so seriously, and accepting the emotions that accompany change. On the negative side, the resiliency literature suggested that people who reach the end of their capacity to assimilate change exhibit irritation, frustration, and low productivity (Doe, 1994), all of which were expressed by participants when discussing hindering incidents in this category. For example, one person talked about feeling anxious, another about being worried, and another about dealing with things within himself and a tendency to withdraw, which led to lower productivity and isolation. 192 The psychological thriving literature talked about the roles of self-determination (which is similar to the concept of internal locus of control), awareness, of self-capacities (which is similar to competence and mastery), and confidence in contributing to people exhibiting resilience rather than burnout (Carver, 1998; Park, 1998; Saakvitne et al., 1998). Participants mentioned all of these when speaking about taking care of themselves, having confidence in their abilities, and having confidence in themselves. The other end of the spectrum from thriving, according to Carver's (1998) depiction, is succumbing or burnout. The burnout literature discussed cynicism (an attitude) and detachment (withdrawing from or numbing one's feelings) as two of the primary markers of burnout (Leiter & Maslach, 2001; Maslach et al., 2001). As discussed in Chapter Four, many of the participants in the current study talked about experiencing both aspects of burnout, which led to decreased energy, involvement, and effectiveness at work. Lazarus (1993) talked about personality variables, traits and emotions in relation to stress and coping reactions. He mentioned the personality traits of resilience, hardiness, learned resourcefulness, optimism, self-efficacy, and a sense of coherence as being helpful in resisting the negative aspects of stress. It can be assumed that absence of these traits would result in individuals experiencing the full negative impacts of stress. Lazarus makes the argument that emotions are the result of appraising situations as either favourable or unfavourable to goal attainment, thereby generating either positive or negative emotions, respectively. Since both positive and negative emotions were mentioned by participants, it seems reasonable to assume based on Lazarus' logic that participants were making both 193 challenge appraisals as well as threat and danger appraisals, although the timing and patterns of such appraisals are not clear. More generally, in the career counselling literature Young and Valach (2000) stated that "the role of emotion in career psychology has been underrepresented" (p. 187) and discussed the recent links being made between emotions, motivational goals, and specific behaviours. Elsewhere in the career literature it appeared emotions and attitudes have been discussed primarily with respect to employment or unemployment transition points (Borgen & Amundson, 1984, 1987), survivors of downsizing (Amundson et al., 2004) and the emotional challenges associated with unexpected and unwanted job transition, such as lateral moves and demotions (Maglio et al., 2005). What seems clear from the review of the literature as it pertains to this category is that emotions, attitudes and traits play a powerful role in either facilitating or impeding people's efforts in whatever they are undertaking. Category 2: Support from Friends and Family. This category contained only helping/wish list items. The importance of support from friends and family for participants in the current study became obvious, as it was the second largest helping category emerging from the current study. There is ample discussion about the helping role of social support in the psychological thriving, burnout, stress and coping, unemployment, and survivors of downsizing literature. The fact that this was such an important component of doing well for the participants in the present study is startling given that, with one exception, they had not encountered adverse events as defined by the psychological thriving literature, nor had most of them faced major stressors such as downsizing or 194 unexpected unemployment. Much of the psychological thriving literature talked about the important role of social resources in contributing to an individual's ability to thrive, and the importance of family as the primary source of validation (O'Leary, 1998; Park, 1998). One of the roles of social support according to Park is to help individuals interpret the stressful experience in a less negative way. Participants consistently discussed this role of family and friends as offering new perspectives, making suggestions for next steps, encouraging them so they felt less alone, and giving participants a vote of confidence about being able to handle whatever came along. Another aspect of social support discussed in the psychological thriving literature was that of adult attachment. According to Carver (1998), "security of attachment to significant others establishes the sense of a secure base and safe haven as resources that permit exploration" (p. 261). Many participants expressed sentiments consistent with this role of family and friends as providing a safe haven from which to foray out into the world. The majority of participants citing incidents in this category echoed this theme when they referred to their friends and family as safety nets, as bolstering their belief in themselves, and as always being accepted at home for who they are. The experiences of these participants offer support to the contention in the stress and coping literature that social support acts as a mediator or buffer between the individual and the stressor (S. Cohen & Wills, 1985). The burnout literature also discussed the importance of family and social support with respect to its role in lessening the likelihood of burnout occurring (Maslach et al., 2001). It discussed the importance of community in helping people 195 remain healthy and avoid burnout, and the fact that communication technology is eating into people's ability to spend time in person with their friends and family, thus increasing the likelihood of burnout (Leiter & Maslach, 2001). Social support has also been negatively associated with burnout and positively associated with satisfaction and productivity (Baruch-Feldman et al., 2002). The career counselling literature talked about the importance of family and, more broadly, social support in terms of career decision making (Walz, Knowdell, & Kirkman, Eds., 2002). It also discussed family as a source of both conflict and support, especially with respect to workers who are in middle age and caring for both dependent children and elderly parents (Byrd, 2002; Goodman & Waters, 1985). A great deal of the unemployment literature and, more recently, the survivors of downsizing literature emphasized the crucial role of social support for people experiencing these major career-related transitions (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Amundson et al., 2004; Borgen & Amundson, 1984, 1987). Although the majority of participants in the current study were not experiencing such unexpected, major transitions, it appears they gained great benefits from support received from their family and friends in the course of their everyday lives. Category 3: Internal Framework and Boundaries. This category contained only helping/wish list items. The concept of having an internal framework or personal and professional boundaries is not new to the psychology literature. Internal frameworks, or schemas, provide a way for people to make sense of the world, tend to persist over time, and can be either functional or dysfunctional (Beck & Weishaar, 1995). This is similar to the cognitive appraisals 196 people make when assessing whether an external event is harmful, threatening, or challenging (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Cognitive appraisals are based on an individual's previous experience and the personal meaning ascribed to the incident or event (Lazarus, 1993), both of which arise from internal frameworks and ways of seeing the world. Lazarus (1993) suggested that a person's beliefs and motives, as well as the environmental demand, frame the person's subjective experience of any particular event and thus his or her reaction to it. The idea of boundaries that differentiate individuals from their environment, and that are invoked by individuals in order to keep themselves healthy and safe, has been discussed in the psychology and career counselling literature (Amundson, 2002; Corey, 1996; Cormier & Hackney, 2005; Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 1995). The literature appears to agree that part of psychological health lies in having functional, effective schemas and well-maintained boundaries. It was interesting to note that although several participants talked about having poor boundaries during the contextual part of the interview, which resulted in working long hours, giving up personal and professional goals, and experiencing exhaustion, ill-health, or both, these were not discussed as hindering critical incidents. This was noticed by me and also mentioned by one of the experts who reviewed the category schemes. She suggested that when things went well participants appeared to make internal attributions for the results; when things did not go well participants appeared to make external attributions as evidenced by the high number of hindering incidents cited under "Management Style and Work Environment", to be discussed shortly. It is not clear from the results of the current study if that was, indeed, the dynamic 197 underlying these results, but it was worthy of mention and perhaps follow-up in a future study. Within the psychological thriving literature, researchers (e.g., Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1998; Saakvitne et al., 1998) have discussed ways in which individuals respond to and make sense of adverse events, namely through the "dynamics of perception, cognition, and affective processing, which include the need to create meaning and construct personal narratives" (Saakvitne et al., 1998, p. 282). According to Saakvitne and her colleagues, healing occurs when an individual is able to successfully change his or her frame of reference, to change the schemas or beliefs in his or her "identity, worldview, and spirituality" (Saakvitne et al., 1998, p. 294) in one of five areas associated with growth after an adverse event: new possibilities, relating to others, personal strength, spiritual change, and appreciation of life. Calhoun and Tedechi (1998) also discussed the importance of changing self-perceptions and personal schemas in order to grow and develop more wisdom. Also within the psychological thriving literature, Carver (1998) supported Lazarus' (1993) characterization of cognitive appraisals when he stated, "virtually by definition, thriving is a response to challenge (because thriving represents gain), rather than a response to threat (minimization of loss)" (p. 248). Carver suggested that people are making a cognitive appraisal using their previous experience and internal framework to perceive a current or upcoming change as challenging rather than as threatening, which allows them to do well and grow in the face of adversity. Spirituality or faith is a specific type of internal framework that was mentioned by a number of participants as being helpful to them. The psychology literature 198 acknowledged the link between spirituality and human health and well-being (W. R. Miller & Thoresen, 2004; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The HR/business literature has begun discussing the role of spirituality in the workplace (Conn, 2005; Marques, 2005; S. Miller & Whyte, 2005), although it tended to take the organizational or corporate perspective rather than the individual perspective reflected in the psychology literature. The career counselling literature discussed the concept of values (Amundson, 2003; Herr et al., 2004; Zunker, 2002), which one could argue are affected by one's spiritual or religious beliefs and help to create a framework from which one operates. The psychological thriving literature also recognized the important role of spirituality or religiosity in shaping personal meaning and providing a context or frame of reference through which to view the world and events that occur (Park, 1998; Saakvitne et al., 1998). The literature seems to agree that having a strong internal framework and maintaining appropriate boundaries are important components of doing well in many areas of life. Category 4: Taking Action. This category contained both helping/wish list and hindering items. Support for both the helping and hindering aspects of this category was found in the counselling, organizational behaviour, psychological thriving, and psychology literature. Much has been written about the importance of taking an active stance and getting involved in resolving situations or managing reactions to events that arise. For example, motivating oneself and persistence, both of which imply taking action of some kind, are fundamental to the concept of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995) and doing well in life. Goleman discussed the impacts of failing to 199 take action, which included lapsing into apathy, depression, and inability to reach one's full potential. Similarly, the importance of taking purposeful action, of self-determination, was discussed in the psychological thriving literature (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1998; Carver, 1998). According to these researchers, taking action can make the difference between thriving, returning to previous levels of functioning, functioning with impairment, or succumbing in the aftermath of an adverse event. The importance of action planning has been discussed in the counselling and career counselling literature in a number of different areas: during the various phases of counselling (Amundson, 1995); counselling the unemployed (Borgen, 1999; Borgen & Maglio, 2004); and taking an action-theoretical approach to career (Young & Valach, 2000). Emotional set appears to be tied to taking action, with the study about action planning (Borgen & Maglio, 2004) suggesting that depression, burnout, and past trauma make it difficult to make plans that lead to taking action. They also found lack of motivation led to procrastination and difficulty making decisions. The importance of an active stance and regaining control, both of which involve taking action, were discussed in the survivors of downsizing study (Amundson et al., 2004) as helpful to survivors as they adjusted to a new work environment. The majority of participants in the current study took action by deciding to return to school, change careers, look for other work, increase their networking time, etc., although several mentioned finding it difficult to decide what to do or to take any action at all because of the emotional turmoil they experienced. deCharms' (1968) theory of personal causation also supports this category through its basic assumption that taking intentional action to change one's 200 environment is a basic part of human nature. deCharms' theory not only involves taking action, it also involves being aware that changes in the person's environment have been caused by the person's own actions (Ross, 1997). This is similar to the concepts of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1982) and internal locus of control (Lemme, 1999), both of which imply taking action is needed in order to effect changes in the environment or situation. Using deCharms' Origin-Pawn concept, some participants in the current study exhibited signs of being "Origins", of feeling in control of their fate. For example, one talked about being able to steer around the obstacles; another said she started to explore other opportunities; and yet another started developing relationships with people and organizations outside the company where she worked. All were quite aware of what they were doing and that their actions were intended to change the situations in which they found themselves. Although some participants exhibited signs of being "Pawns", of feeling helpless and at the mercy of others, they did not mention this during the critical incident interview. Therefore, the participants' feelings of being at the mercy of external events will be discussed in the upcoming section about the impacts of the changes participants experienced. The idea of career communities is based in part on the responsibility of individuals to create their own work arrangements that will help them achieve their personal and work-related goals (Parker et al., 2004). The authors made the point that careers do not just happen; they need to be created through involvement and action on the part of the individual and support within a community of relevant others. Support is an integral part of the concept,, but another key element is 201 personal responsibility through taking action. Category 5: Self-care. This category contained both helping/wish list and hindering items, both of which were supported by the literature. The concept of self-care has been discussed in the counselling, workplace wellness, stress and coping, and HR literature with respect to work-life balance, EAPs, leisure time/physical activity as a way of coping with work or unemployment stress, and corporate wellness initiatives (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Buffett & Young, 2004; Cartwright & Cooper, 2005; Connolly & Myers, 2003; Cooper et al., 2003; Duxbury & Higgins, 2002; Hobson et al., 2001; Trenberth & Dewe, 2002). What the majority of the writings in these disciplines have in common is a basic belief that healthy self-care practices and health promotion activities increase worker productivity, motivation, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and loyalty, while at the same time decreasing absenteeism, turnover, burnout, depressed mood, and stress (Hobson et al., 2001). However, Connolly and Myers (2003) pointed out that employer-sponsored wellness initiatives have focused almost exclusively on physical fitness, with some also offering stress management training; and Buffett and Young (2004) pointed out that employers have not made the connection between workplace wellness initiatives and increased employee productivity. Cartwright and Cooper (2005) also highlighted the mixed results and short term impacts of health promotion interventions focused solely on physical fitness. It was interesting to note that although physical exercise was mentioned as being helpful by a number of participants, individuals in the present study took the 202 concept of self-care well beyond caring for their physical selves to caring for their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual selves by journaling, listening to and playing music, living in a beautiful place, reading, taking courses, and living with pets. Thus both the literature and the results from the current study suggest there may be other self-care components that are being overlooked by employers, although some researchers advocate for a broad range of workplace wellness initiatives that foster both individual and organizational well-being (e.g., Amundson & Morley, 2002). The stress and coping literature discussed the connection between work stress and leisure activities, which are generally accepted to be in the realm of self-care, and reported that physical exercise is thought to be a coping strategy for reducing stress that offers "unique prophylactic, rehabilitative and restorative properties" (Trenberth & Dewe, 2002, p. 61). Unexplored until fairly recently has been the importance of self-care activities of a non-exercise nature, such as those mentioned above by many participants in the current study. Trenberth and Dewe's study results suggested that self-care activities have two distinct purposes: (1) active and challenging reasons for engaging in physical activities that has been emphasized by the stress and coping literature; and (2) passive, recuperative and restorative reasons for engaging in all forms of self-care activities. Trenberth and Dewe stated that the importance of active, challenging leisure appeared to be associated with "being totally focused" (p. 67), which is consistent with the comments of several participants in the current study who stated that physical exercise helped move their attention away from work by focusing on the activity, which in turn reduced their stress. Trenberth and Dewe's finding that recuperative 203 and restorative self-care activities provided some kind of "balancing function" (p. 69) was reflected in the importance attached by many participants in the current study to their non-physical self-care activities. For example, one participant explained how living in a beautiful place helped her rejuvenate and recharge; another talked about how living with pets contributed to his sense of feeling valued. The few hindering incidents mentioned by participants suggested that not engaging in either active and challenging, or recuperative and restorative self-care activities increased stress, lessened concentration, reduced their creativity and decreased their ability to cope. Trenberth and Dewe (2002) also talked about the apparent role of leisure or self-care activities in giving people some choice about how to spend their time, a sense of freedom to do what they like, as well as a way of distracting them from the stresses they are experiencing. This role of self-care activities was echoed by Cartwright and Cooper (2005). Several participants mentioned the role of distraction when talking about wish list items and their importance to self-care. It is important to note that some researchers (e.g., van der Klink et al., 2001) have suggested that interventions designed to reduce workplace stress have two functions, namely to increase the individual's psychological resources and coping responses, and to change the occupational context. What became clear from data provided by participants in the current study is that the organizational contexts in which they worked were not changing in ways that facilitated stress reduction, and participants had assumed full responsibility for their own self-care. It was interesting that not a single participant mentioned employer-sponsored workplace wellness initiatives, stress management programs, or corporate-sponsored EAP's as part of 204 their self-care initiatives. It is also important to note that there appeared to be a link between this category and the "Taking Action" category just discussed. It became evident that taking care of oneself also involved taking action. Category 6: Support from Professionals. This category contained only helping/wish list items, and support for it was found in the counselling, business, psychological thriving, and corporate wellness i literature. The "Support from Professionals" category included services participants received, or would like to have received, from career coaches, outplacement consultants, counsellors, and mediators that they found helpful to them. The concept of adult attachment from the psychological thriving literature that was discussed in the "Support from Friends and Family" category also supports this category, so is not discussed again here. Career coaching has risen in recent years to become a commonplace occurrence in the business world, particularly among individuals in management and professional roles (Chung & Gfroercr, 2003), and its presence was certainly reflected in the support participants received from career coaches. According to Chung and Gfroercr, career coaches have many different roles, but two primary ones are those of support system and cheerleader, both of which were mentioned by participants. Although the business literature on corporate wellness initiatives usually involved some discussion about EAPs (e.g., Buffett & Young, 2004; Cooper et al., 2003), it was interesting to note that only one participant mentioned her company's EAP, and then only with respect to feeling reassured knowing it was there if she really needed it. It was clear that although organizations are offering counselling to 205 their employees as a form of support from professional counsellors, this group of participants was not utilizing these services. The very nature of counselling is that it offers support and new perspectives to individuals when they encounter a situation or issue they find difficult to handle. The counselling literature therefore offered support for this category through its discussion of outplacement counselling for people experiencing involuntary unemployment (Aquilanti & Leroux, 1999; Butterfield & Borgen, 2005); supporting clients through a change in perspective (Amundson, 1996); and offering appraisal support within career counseling (Niles, 1996), to name but a few of the support roles it provides. What many of these services have in common is that they are often provided to individuals who are experiencing shock, vulnerability, stress, and high emotions. Many of the individuals in the current study sought counselling even though they had self-reported as doing well at the time of the first interviews, which suggested they were perhaps not immune to some of the same emotional reactions as people facing more obviously traumatic situations. This has potential implications for the sustainability of worker health, organizational effectiveness, and current workplace expectations. Also in the career counselling literature is much support for the use of groups and the contributions they make to helping displaced workers (e.g., K. J. Anderson, 1995; Borgen, Pollard, Amundson, & Westwood, 1989; Davies, 1996; DiNuzzo & Tolbert, 1981; McKnight, 1991). Unemployment often triggers a loss of work "family" and social contacts, structure, sense of purpose, and community, while also signalling feelings of isolation and aloneness (Butterfield & Borgen, 2005). Feelings 206 of isolation, loss, and lack of structure (as evidenced by the number of participants who said they felt confused and lost) apparently were also at play for participants, all of whom were employed or had chosen to return to school. This suggests there might be a place for some form of group counselling support for this population of workers. It is unclear how to interpret the fact that none of the participants utilized the services of their employers' EAPs, preferring instead to secure career coaches and counsellors on their own. What is clear is that they needed support and sought it out even though it meant a substantial personal financial commitment. Category 7: Management Style and Work Environment. This category contained both helping/wish list and hindering items. Support for both the helping and hindering aspects was found in the psychology, career, counselling, work stress, organizational justice, psychological contract, burnout and psychological thriving literature. The hindering items in this category formed the single largest group of hindering items in the current study, so some time will be spent on understanding the complexities of what is captured within this category. There is general recognition that respectful management actions, fair organizational practices, and effective communication are key in establishing and maintaining a supportive and harmonious work environment (Amundson et al., 2004; Coutu, 2002; Frost, 2003; Goleman, 1995; Herzberg et al., 1959; Kelloway et al., 2005; Maslach et al., 2001; Rousseau, 2004), and that the work environment, once thought to be relatively stable, is now characterized by constant change and instability (Kanter, 1999a; Savickas, 2000). Several important examples of helping and hindering items raised by participants in the current study are directly related to 207 these concepts. First, participants who felt valued, who felt that they were important in their organizations and that they had a voice mentioned management style and work environment as helping them do well with change. Participants who did not have a voice and who felt they were not valued by the organization mentioned management style and work environment as a hindering item. The importance of feeling valued is part of mattering (Amundson, 2003; Connolly & Myers, 2003). The importance of feeling valued was also highlighted in the literature by survivors of corporate downsizing in that "their sense of feeling valued by the organization diminished" (Amundson et al., 2004, p. 262) following the downsizing. This contributed to employees questioning the amount of work they were prepared to do for the employer, and their commitment and loyalty to the organization. Participants in the current study mentioned having many of these same questions/concerns. Second, part of what contributed to items mentioned in this category can be explained by a breach of the psychological contract that existed between workers and employers, which has been shown to cause strain or stress for employees (Gakovic & Tetrick, 2003; Rousseau, 2004). Many of the items in this category also had to do with unfair treatment, such as compensation that was not perceived to be congruent with the amount or level of work expected, which was addressed in the organizational justice literature (Cropanzano et al., 2005; Hosmer & Kiewitz, 2005). According to these two disciplines, the existence of both a well understood and reciprocal psychological contract, and perceived fairness in the organization's actions are key to employee engagement and commitment, and are linked to high productivity. Many participants in the current study mentioned these components as i 208 contributing to a healthy work environment and as being important to their ability to do their best work. The absence of these work components resulted in participants describing reduced motivation, psychological opting out, and toxic or dysfunctional work environments. Third, the importance of clear communication in establishing a healthy work environment was discussed in the survivors of downsizing literature (e.g., Amundson et al., 2004). This would appear to be important not just for survivors of downsizing, but also for workers in the course of their usual workdays. Only a couple of the participants in the current study mentioned having experienced a major downsizing in the previous six months, yet the majority of participants mentioned lack of clear communication and lack of clearly communicated job expectations to be hindering items. This led to participants experiencing exhaustion, decreased motivation, stress, confusion, frustration, and a number of other negative emotions. Fourth, a number of participants specifically mentioned the failure of management to provide direction, support, resources, or information needed to do their jobs that resulted in feelings of uncertainty, frustration, and anger at the lack of direction. Many also stated they did not trust their managers and felt that managers were not looking out for workers' best interests, not telling them all the facts about impending changes, and not telling them the truth about the magnitude and impacts of changes. These experiences closely parallel those of downsizing survivors, who discussed the lack of organizational support and expressed "anger when supervisors failed to provide the direction, support, and information that employees needed" (Amundson et al., 2004, p. 261). This was also supported in the burnout literature 209 that cited work overload and lack of resources as contributing to individual exhaustion and cynicism, thus leading to burnout (Maslach et al., 2001). Fifth, although the majority of these individuals did not experience a downsizing, the ongoing chaotic work environment that is characteristic of work today suggests that both management's trustworthiness and competence are critical on an ongoing basis, not just in times of major organizational upheaval. The experiences of these participants were consistent with those of survivors of downsizing (Amundson et al., 2004) in that many of them discussed fears about losing their own jobs, having to work with new people, the lack of organizational support, poor leadership (and sometimes effective leadership), and the impact of work on their home lives. Participants also expressed some of the same frustrations mentioned by the downsizing survivors when their input was not sought or when it was ignored to the detriment of the organization. Sixth, a few participants mentioned that physical office conditions made it difficult for them to do well. Issues most often mentioned were small and cramped office space, insufficient meeting rooms to meet workers' and clients' needs, coworkers being physically located elsewhere, either on a different floor or in an entirely different location, and frequent moves to different office spaces. Having an inadequate or unstable physical work environment and decreased access to coworkers has been found in the workplace stress and social capital literature to contribute to increased stress and decreased productivity and worker well-being (McCoy & Evans, 2005; Schuller, 2001). Seventh, the impacts of situational variables and constraints were also 210 discussed in the psychological thriving literature. Environments that hindered psychological thriving were those that failed to support individuals, were highly controlling, and involved undertones of threat (Carver, 1998; O'Leary, 1998). This is consistent with Frost's (2003) depiction of a toxic work environment and the psychological impact on individuals who work in such environments. Several of the participants in the current study described their work environments as "toxic"; others described their work environments in terms that suggested workplace abuse and psychological abuse were taking place (Aitken, 2003; Mann, 2000). These findings are consistent with Herzberg's theory of work motivation (Herzberg, 2003; Herzberg et al., 1959), which suggested unfair company policies and administration, ineffective leadership practices, difficult work conditions and poor relationships with management were major dissatisfiers for workers that led to decreased motivation. Participants in the current study who experienced such work f practices and work environments expressed a wealth of negative emotions, had difficulties sleeping, questioned their future in their current job, and experienced health problems. On the other hand, Herzberg suggested being recognized for one's achievement, having responsibility and the opportunity for advancement and growth led to extreme satisfaction and increased worker motivation. Participants who received recognition for their work, felt valued by management, and had opportunities for growth and advancement expressed many more positive emotions, few if any physiological problems, and hoped to stay with their current employer. These findings are also consistent with the results obtained by Duxbury and Higgins (2002) in their report on work-life conflict in Canada. These authors 211 concluded that work demands had increased in the 10 years between 1991 and 2001 to the point that workers spent more time working either at the office or at home, they had less time to spend in leisure activities, and work demands had exceeded individuals' capacities to cope with them. They went on to say that "employers' sensitivity to work and family matters continues to lag behind the emergence of these concerns as an issue for employees" (p. 64) and that employers needed to implement a number of recommendations aimed at changing management practices and improving the work environment. Duxbury and Higgins suggested that organizations take the following steps: (1) reduce employee workloads; (2) reduce job-related travel; (3) recognize and reward overtime work; (4) reduce their reliance on unpaid overtime to get work done on time; (5) allow employees to say no when asked to work overtime; (6) implement alternative work arrangements that are available to all employees; (7) take a "work-life" lens when looking at career development/career advancement opportunities; and (8) take a "life-cycle" lens when looking at work expectations, benefits and rewards. Based on participants' comments, these would likely be very welcome changes. Category 8: Skill/Role Competence. This category contained only helping/wish list items, and support for it came primarily from the psychological thriving, counselling, and career counselling literature, with some additional support from the emerging literature on survivors of corporate downsizing. In the psychological thriving literature, Carver (1998) talked about the role of mastery in helping people thrive in the face of adversity: Those high in mastery cope with adverse circumstances through instrumental activities. They tend to master the situation effectively, appraise their 212 experience as beneficial, and increase the sense of mastery with which they approach subsequent situations, (p. 256) This describes well the experiences of many participants in the current study who expressed a sense of increased mastery following some event, although except for one individual none of them would likely be considered adverse events as defined by the psychological thriving literature. Participants said that feeling competent or successful as students or in their work roles had helped them face other new things, build confidence, and be more successful in dealing with whatever came along. The hindering incidents suggested participants who did not feel competent experienced frustration, felt inept, wasted a lot of time, and wanted to escape the situation. This is consistent with the concept of competence as both a state of doing and a state of being (Amundson, 2003), with participants exhibiting both aspects of competence in the critical incidents they offered. For example, one participant mentioned as a helping critical incident the fact that he was good at his job and area of study (the state of doing), and that it enabled him to feel he was able to do well (the state of being). Another participant mentioned that he had earned the accreditation of Certified Management Consultant (the state of doing), and that it allowed him to feel a sense of credibility when pursuing consulting jobs (the state of being). Competence was also discussed in the thriving literature where successfully overcoming challenges that induced moderate stress resulted in feelings of increased competence and the ability to handle future difficulties (O'Leary, 1998). One participant who lost her husband and "hit the wall" at work talked about the importance of finding a way to get through that time and, once having found it, feeling better equipped to handle her own changes and help others deal with theirs. 213 The career counselling literature talked about competencies primarily with respect to skills training and skills deficits (Gysbers et al., 2003). The participants in the current study did not discuss specific work tasks as helping them handle change well, but they did mention several skills training items in the wish list. For example, one participant mentioned wishing she could speak French, another mentioned wanting better time management skills, and still another wanted to hone her writing skills. This type of skills training has a long history in career counselling (e.g., Aquilanti & Leroux, 1999; Rudd & Strong, 1997), and is often related to special populations as discussed in Chapter Two (Pont, 1995; R. A. Thompson, 1998). However, given the emphasis on skills training discussed in the vocational psychology literature (e.g., Hesketh, 2001), it was interesting to note that only four participants (20%) mentioned skills training as something they wished for in order to increase their ability to handle change well. This seems to suggest that skill training was not a high priority for participants in the current study. Category 9: Support from Work Colleagues. This category contained both helping and hindering incidents; support for both was found in the career, organizational behaviour, psychology, and business literature. One result of job loss is losing the friendships and emotional support from work colleagues, both for the people who remain employed and for those who lose their jobs. Researchers found that downsizing survivors experienced grief, loss, sadness, isolation, loneliness, and other emotions when colleagues were either terminated or moved, which affected their productivity, motivation and commitment i to work (Amundson et al., 2004). They also found that as people from different 214 departments, locations, and organizations were brought together in new work arrangements, it took time for relationships with new coworkers to develop. On the other side, people who had lost their jobs talked about feeling alone or isolated, losing their "family", and not having the support system at work they had previously relied upon (Butterfield & Borgen, 2005; Maglio et al., 2005). According to Littleton, Arthur and Rousseau (2000), one of the by-products of the move to the boundaryless career, and other new career styles, is the loss of community that often follows due to the lack of structured employment arrangements. They discussed the idea of communion, which they described as being "concerned about connections, relationships, tolerance, and trust" (p. 110), as an essential feature of the boundaryless career since responsibility for managing these connections and relationships now falls to the individual rather than to the organization. Inherent in their discussion is the importance of support from colleagues, within the work relationship, to people's effectiveness and productivity. Others have suggested that support from work colleagues is essential to a healthy workplace and to worker well-being (Amundson & Morley, 2002). One solution to this perceived lack of community is the concept of career communities (Parker et al., 2004) that provide ways for individuals to draw career support from each other. The idea behind career communities is to offer a forum for individuals to learn from each other, give and receive career support, and get help in making sense out of situations that arise. These career communities are comprised of work colleagues who may or may not work in the same organization, so they are seen as crossing organizational boundaries and providing a new, different type of 215 support for workers engaged in the new careers. In discussing the concept of emotional intelligence, informal networks in the workplace were considered to be critical to enable workers to handle unanticipated difficulties that arise (Goleman, 1995). Goleman defined these informal networks as "the complex web of social ties [that] form every time colleagues communicate, and solidify over time into surprisingly stable networks" (p. 162). He contended this support from colleagues is essential for the smooth and timely resolution of time-sensitive problems within an organization. Social capital researchers (Schuller, 2001; Woolcock, 2001) also stressed the importance of informal support networks in organizations to ensure work gets done effectively. They predicted downsizing, rightsizing, and restructuring would disrupt these networks, which in turn would cause productivity to suffer. Participants in the current study discussed both the helpful aspects of having supportive work colleagues, as well as the hindering ones. Although they described the ways in which support from work colleagues helped or hindered their ability to get the work done, the benefits of support from their colleagues clearly went beyond the merely practical aspects of being able to do their jobs, moving also into emotional support. On the helping side, participants talked about having friends at work, feeling loved and valued by them, being supported by them; on the hindering side, they talked about experiencing grief and loss when work changes separated them from colleagues or caused lack of cooperation from colleagues. The former helped them work more effectively and engage more fully in the workplace; the latter made these difficult. Disruptions to the informal support networks were mentioned 216 by a number of participants as creating difficulties in doing their jobs effectively. Category 10: Personal Life Changes/Issues. This category contained both helping/wish list and hindering items; support for both was found in the transition, counselling, thriving, organizational justice, stress and coping, and workplace wellness literature. Both Schlossberg's (1995) and Bridges' (1991) models of transition account for many of the hindering incidents mentioned by participants in this category. What made this particularly complex is that participants told of anticipated transitions (e.g., children leaving home), unanticipated transitions (e.g., the death of a loved one), and non-event transitions (e.g., loss of career aspirations) (Schlossberg et a|., 1995) that were occurring simultaneously, often across multiple life arenas, while at the same time juggling the emotions associated with endings, the neutral zone, and new beginnings discussed by Bridges (1991). Participants were dealing with joy, grief, fear, loss, excitement, frustration, emptiness, and many other emotions while also trying to be effective at work. As Schlossberg and her colleagues pointed out, the more disruptive a transition is to a person's daily life, the more difficult its impact will be. That might partly explain the result that helping incidents were primarily related to there being few, if any, changes in participants' personal lives, thus freeing up their emotional resources to better handle changes affecting their work. The interconnectedness of workers' personal and work lives was highlighted in the organizational justice and stress, and workplace wellness literature that suggested stressors experienced at home (for example, two-career families and the sandwich generation) impacted individuals' ability to be effective at work (Byrd, 217 2002; Connolly & Myers, 2003; Judge & Colquitt, 2004). It was also reflected in the calls for employers to provide benefits plans that support employees in managing these personal changes and issues (Buffett, 2004; Duxbury & Higgins, 2002; Price, 2004), which suggests there is at least some recognition of the need to assist people with the multiple roles and responsibilities they have. The impact of personal life changes and issues on participants' ability to handle changes well that affected their work, and vice versa, supports the assertion that personal and career counselling are not separate entities and must therefore address the needs of the entire person regardless of their initial presenting problem (W. P. Anderson, Jr. & Niles, 1995; Krumboltz, 1993; Lewis, 2001; Maglio et al., 2005). Finally, several participants talked about the difficulty of handling changes affecting work while also experiencing issues associated with personal aging and health. The psychological thriving literature discussed the impact physical problems have on a person's appraisal of a situation and whether it is perceived as a challenge, a threat or a danger (Park, 1998). This is directly related to the first category, that of "Internal Framework and Boundaries", where Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) transactional model of stress, appraisal and coping was discussed and the importance of an individual's appraisal of a situation to his or her ability to handle it well. Once again, it became clear that these factors do not work in isolation, but rather work in complex interactions with one another. 5.3 Impact of the Interviews One of the secondary aims of the current study was to explore whether the 218 research interviews had an impact on participants. As mentioned in Chapter Four, the pre- and post-interview scaling question results produced an effect size of -.73, which borders on a large difference between the means using Cohen's criteria, and suggests these results warrant attention because of their practical significance (J. Cohen, 1992; Vacha-Haase & Thompson, 2004). According to some researchers, this result also suggests that statistical significance might have been achieved with a larger sample size (Tatsuoka, 1993; Zumbo & Hubley, 1998). There is a growing body of literature challenging the exclusive reliance on p values, or statistical significance, since p is tied to sample size and does not evaluate result importance (B. Thompson, 1999, 2000; Vacha-Haase & Thompson, 1998, 2004). The American Psychological Association 5 t h edition of the Publication Manual (APA, 2001; Wilkinson, 1999) requires that effect size be reported in order to aid the reader in determining the magnitude of the observed effect. Effect size thus appears to be v. gaining influence and importance in the psychology literature. Although the interviews in the current study were not intended to be therapeutic, the findings are consistent with the American Psychological Association's (Steering Committee, 2001) and Lambert's and Barley's (2001) conclusions that a therapist's communication skills, empathy, collaboration, openness, and exploration, as well as such interpersonal factors as mutual trust, liking, respect, and caring, all of which are process oriented, are key to therapeutic success. It may be that my orientation to process as well as content during the interviews affected participants in a way that mimicked the therapeutic process. Perhaps more importantly, these findings also offer initial support for post-219 modern contentions that the research process is not a neutral experience, but rather one that engages and changes both the researcher and the participant in ways that cannot always be anticipated (Angrosino & Mays de Perez, 2000; Weingarten, 1998). It also supports the positive psychology call to explore an individual's whole experience rather than focusing solely on the negative or difficult aspects (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The effect size obtained suggests interventions that include listening, relationship building, empathy, and other process-related factors might be very effective in helping workers move along a continuum from not doing well towards doing well in the face of ongoing change. Based on the experience of these participants, interventions taking a balanced approach that look at both positive and negative aspects of a person's experience might be considered. 5.4 Contextual Component The other secondary purpose of the current study was to gather background information about mainstream workers' experience of recent changes affecting their work in order to begin piecing together knowledge about this population's subjective experience of the changes they face. The contextual parts of the interview were intended to take 15 to 20 minutes to obtain some rudimentary information about the changes experienced by the participants, the impacts of those changes on them, what doing well meant to them, and whether they had always handled change well. However, this part of the interview took approximately half the interview time because of the rich and complex stories people told. More surprising was the extent to which these participants expressed negative psychological impacts, experiences, 220 and emotions when they had self-identified as doing well. The following three sections discuss these results. 5.4.1 What Doing Well Means There was no obvious consensus as to what doing well meant to the participants. Themes ranged from being effective, productive, and performing at or above the expected standard of work, to coping, surviving, and not having been crushed by a toxic or dysfunctional work environment. In other instances responses included being centred, doing something positive, and being persistent. Clearly participants had very different ideas of what doing well meant. At the outset of the current study, it was anticipated that most of the participants would have described doing well in terms of the first theme - being effective, productive, and performing above the standard. That would have been consistent with Carver's (1998) depiction of psychological thriving as a higher level of functioning. It became evident from the diverse range of answers about what doing well meant that the situations described by this group of individuals and their reactions to them were very complex. Descriptions such as coping, surviving, and not being crushed were perhaps more reminiscent of the experiences of people in the stress and coping literature (Wainwright & Calnan, 2002), whereas descriptions such as being effective, focused on the work, and performing above the expected standard were perhaps more in keeping with the thriving literature (Ickovics & Park, 1998; Saakvitne et al., 1998). This observation is consistent with stories participants told about the impacts of the changes they experienced, which are discussed in the next section. Perhaps in part these disparate descriptions of what doing well meant to 221 them reflected people who were at different stages of recovery, who were in the process of moving from not doing well to doing well. If this was the case, it highlights the caution to practitioners offered in the thriving literature to remember that just because someone arrives at a state of thriving does not mean they have not suffered (Park, 1998). It also suggests there is hope for workers who are initially not handling change well, that there is a process towards growth and there are ways in which it can be facilitated. Carver (1998) discussed the existence of such a process. 5.4.2 Impacts of Changes What was surprising about the impacts of changes on participants was the depth and range of emotions they expressed when emotional reactions were not specifically asked about. Particularly surprising were the negative emotions these individuals shared, especially in light of their initial self-reports of handling change well. It is difficult to know how to interpret this result, suggesting more information is needed in order to understand the dynamics of their experiences. The question this raises, however, is how it came to be that these workers self-reported as doing well when 85% of them expressed more than twice the number of negative emotions compared to positive emotions. Such results might suggest many of these individuals were actually not doing very well in the face of change. Several speculations can be made around this question. First, the thriving literature offers the idea that both positive and negative emotions can co-exist at the same time; they are independent dimensions related to well-being and distress (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1998). This could perhaps explain in some measure how it was that workers who self-reported as doing well also expressed anger, loneliness, 222 depression, burnout, frustration, anxiety, grief, and other difficult emotions. This is consistent with findings in the stress and coping literature that chronic stress and positive affect can co-exist (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000a, 2000b). It could also be explained in part by the possibility mentioned earlier, that if people arrive at a state of psychological thriving, it does not mean that they have not suffered, or that they are thriving in all areas of their lives (Park, 1998). Because participants discussed the impacts of changes that had occurred over the previous six months, it could be they were reflecting the suffering and negative affect experienced at an earlier time, and had since moved past it so they were able to self-report as doing well. Second, because of the diverse responses participants gave to the question about what doing well meant to them, it is possible they were actually in different emotional and psychological stages in dealing with the changes they had faced and the impacts of those changes. It is clear in both the psychological thriving and stress and coping literature that how people deal with change, and the speed with which they move from not coping to thriving, is based on complex variables unique to each individual (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Saakvitne et al., 1998). A review of the definition of psychological thriving suggests it is "the mobilization of individual and social resources in response to risk or threat, leading to positive mental or physical outcomes and/or positive social outcomes" (Ickovics & Park, 1998, p. 237). This suggests that differences in access to or quality of resources might explain differences in the length of time it takes people to mobilize their resources, as might differences in the level of threat appraised by the individual (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). It could also be the case that differences in past experience dealing with 223 stressful events affected the speed and extent to which individuals were able to mobilize their resources. This possibility appears to be supported by the 67% of participants who said they had not always handled change well, and that past experience and an evolution over time had allowed them to respond to changes more quickly and effectively. Third, it is possible that participants' reactions to the impacts of change had to do with their appraisals of the events. Using Lazarus and Folkman's model (1984), the expectation at the start of the current study was that participants would appraise the changes they encountered as challenges. If they had appraised the changes as challenges, they would likely have interpreted the situations as having beneficial outcomes and thus immediately engaged in effective coping strategies (Park, 1998). It is possible that the majority of participants actually appraised the changes they faced as harmful or threatening, thus expected difficulty and loss, and therefore initially used less effective coping strategies (Lazarus, 1999). This is consistent with the psychological thriving literature that suggested situations or events that violate an individual's "beliefs, expectations, and goals, in essence, constitute his or her assessment of the stressfulness of an event" (Park, 1998, p. 271). Although the beliefs, expectations, and goals of participants were not actively sought, many stated that their expectations and goals around career moves, promotions, retirement, and company practices had undergone substantial changes, even to the extent of deciding to retire earlier than planned or return to school to train for a new career. Although briefly mentioned above with respect to the category, "Support from Work Colleagues", the disruption of the informal social networks participants relied 224 on to do their work was a major impact of the changes experienced by participants. Researchers (Schuller, 2001; Woolcock, 2001) suggested such disruptions to an organization's social capital would result in decreased productivity and morale. Participants talked about the loss of coworkers, team members, and lack of resources to get their jobs done as a result of relationships within and between organization networks being disrupted by change. They also talked about the subsequent results of these disruptions, both in terms of their own reactions and in terms of productivity. Ninety percent of participants said they experienced decreased motivation and productivity, lower morale, and difficulty handling change. Also discussed in the critical incident portion of the discussion was the Origin-Pawn concept introduced by deCharms (1968) and the ways in which participants exhibited "Origin" tendencies. When talking about what had changed and the impacts of those changes, several participants discussed reactions and behaviours that appeared to be consistent with deCharms' "Pawn" concept. A number of participants expressed feelings of helplessness, cpnfusion, powerlessness, being out of control and overwhelmed, and wanting someone else to tell them what to do to make their lives better. Given that participants self-reported as doing well in the face of change, it was unexpected to find many did not feel in control of their lives. It was also striking that the emotional impacts of the changes experienced by participants echoed the emotional roller coaster experienced by people coping with unemployment (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Borgen & Amundson, 1984). Emotions expressed by participants in the current study included anger, depression, worry, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, fear, and feeling lost or dispirited. Interspersed with 225 these were more positive emotions, such as hope, a sense of freedom, excitement, joy, and motivation. These are very reminiscent of the emotions expressed in Amundson and Borgen's studies of unemployment where participants experienced anger, shock, worry, anxiety, discouragement, fear, apathy, isolation, and loneliness interspersed by more hopeful, positive emotions. What is not known about the participants in the current study is the timing of the emotions they experienced in relation to the changes they faced, or whether the pattern of positive and negative emotions experienced was similar for everyone. The burnout-engagement model that looked at energy, involvement, and effectiveness (Leiter & Maslach, 2001) might also help frame the impacts of change. It appears as though the majority of participants would fall more towards the burnout end on the energy, involvement, and effectiveness dimensions. Lending credence to this is the fact that the three primary dimensions of burnout are exhaustion, reduced effectiveness, and cynicism or detachment from the job. When talking about the impacts of changes they had experienced, 55% of participants in the current study mentioned feeling exhausted, tired, or fatigued (frequency = 44 items); 95% talked about feeling ineffective or experiencing reduced effectiveness (frequency = 109); and 95% talked about feeling detached from their jobs in some way, using words like bored, crushed, cynical, detached, disconnected, distracted, sceptical, passive, isolated, and lonely (frequency = 210). In addition, participants talked about feeling burned out, fried, empty, shattered; tortured, and having a meltdown. It was difficult to remember during the interviews and after that these were people who had said they were doing well at the start of the current study. 226 5.4.3 Have Participants Always Handled Change Well? A concern at the start of the current study was that all participants might state they had always handled change well, and the implications that could have for workers' ability to change who were not currently handling change well. As it turned out, 50% of the sample (10/20 participants) stated that they had not always handled change well. This offers hope for those who are struggling with change, and provides insight into what might help them. These results are consistent with the burnout, unemployment, hardiness and psychological thriving literature, all of which suggested people are capable of change (Borgen, 1999; Maddi, 2002; Maslach et al., 2001; O'Leary, 1998). The success of employment groups and other types of group interventions in providing unemployed individuals with structure, shared experiences, emotional support, networking opportunities, catharsis, and change tools has also been well documented (K. J. Anderson, 1995; Borgen, 1999; Borgen et al., 1989; DiNuzzo & Tolbert, 1981). The changes cited by these researchers included increased job searching activity, personal effectiveness, self-esteem and self-confidence, a sense of community, and an opportunity to mourn the loss of work "families". The psychological thriving literature suggested that "thriving" may be the result of learning from past stressors how to recover faster from subsequent stressors and, in fact, achieve a higher level of functioning (Carver, 1998). Psychological thriving theory also suggested that an individual "with conscious attention and effort ... can modify and alter some aspects of self, specifically beliefs or schemas and specific skills" (Saakvitne et al., 1998, p. 293). Finally, the burnout 227 literature has long suggested that burnout can be measured (Maslach & Jackson, 1981) and alleviated by changing individual variables contributing to burnout, addressing the corporate context in which burnout occurs, and changing the person-fit variables between the individual and the organization (Leiter & Maslach, 2001). Hardiness skills also increased resilience and reduced burnout (Maddi, 2005). Consistent with the idea that people can learn to handle change well were participants who said they had not always handled change well and offered some ideas of what had changed so they were now able to handle it well (Table 9, p. 159). There were also nine individuals who stated that although they had always handled change well, things had occurred over the years so they were now handling change even better (Table 7, p. 151). By comparing these two tables, several areas of overlap can be seen, namely experience dealing with previous passages or transitions, attitude, taking action or control, and having a philosophy or perspective to draw on. The only areas where these two groups differed were in self-awareness (mentioned by participants who had always handled change well), and in emotions (mentioned by participants who had not always handled change well). It is possible that helping workers who are not handling change well to become more self-aware of their resistance to change, of what they like, and of their strengths and weaknesses might be an effective intervention to increase their capacity to handle change. It is possible that helping people deal with emotions that get in the way of handling change, such as the anger, resentment, and frustration mentioned by participants who had not always handled change well but who learned to do so, might also be an effective intervention. 228 5.5 Overall Discussion of Results Based on the discussion to this point, several issues stand out. First and perhaps most importantly, it appears there is hope for workers who are not currently handling change well to learn how to deal with it more effectively. Studies from the hardiness, unemployment, transition, and psychological thriving fields support this contention, as do the results of the current study. Half the participants stated they had not always handled change well, and a number of participants who had always handled change well talked about processes that helped them learn to handle change even better. It is possible that interventions based on the 10 categories created from the critical incident component of the current study would aid workers who are currently struggling with change, and perhaps even those who are handling it but want to be doing even better. Second, it would be difficult to make the case that participants in the current study could be characterized as thriving, with perhaps one exception. What appears more likely, based on results arising from the psychological and emotional impacts of change, participants' definitions of what doing well meant to them, and their narratives during the critical incident component of the interview, is that they were in some way oscillating between succumbing and thriving using Carver's (1998) model depicted in Figure 1 (p. 43). Oscillation is defined as "to swing backward and forward like a pendulum; to move or travel back and forth between two points" (Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary, 2000). In many cases, a single participant described times of burnout ("succumbing" in Carver's model); doing their job, albeit not well, while exhausted or ill ("survival with impairment"); meeting the requirements 229 of the job ("resilience"); and performing above the expected standard ("thriving"). The concept of oscillation has been discussed in terms of achieving high performance in business and other spheres of endeavour (Loehr & Schwartz, 2003). Although mentioned briefly in Chapter Two, Loehr and Schwartz' ideas take on greater importance in light of these results. These authors conceptualized a pulse that oscillates between stress and recovery that is an essential part of attaining full engagement. They described it as follows, Emotional depth and resilience depend on active engagement with others and with our own feelings. Mental acuity diminishes in the absence of ongoing intellectual challenge.- Spiritual energy capacity depends on regularly revisiting our deepest values and holding ourselves accountable for our behavior. Full engagement requires cultivating a dynamic balance between the expenditure of energy (stress) and the renewal of energy (recovery) in all dimensions. We call this rhythmic wave oscillation, and it represents the fundamental pulse of life. (p. 29) The results of the current study suggest the concept of oscillation might explain the experience of many participants, although it is acknowledged that further research is needed to explore this idea. What appeared to be missing for this population of individuals was the opportunity to renew their energy - the constant demands of life and work gave them little if any time to recharge their batteries. Loehr and Schwartz (2003) suggested that the demands placed on workers exceed those expected of elite athletes. Athletes usually spend 90% of their time in training, and only 10% of their time performing, with an off-season of four or five months each year that gives them the chance to rest, heal, renew and grow so they are ready to perform again the next season. Their careers last an average of five to seven years. Workers, in contrast, spend little or no time in training, are expected to perform at their best for eight, 10, 230 or even 12 hours a day, they have an "off-season" amounting to a few weeks of vacation a year, and a career lasting an average of 40 to 50 years. It is important to recognize that individuals are not able to handle the rapid pace, ongoing change, and unstable environments expected of them on a perpetual basis. It is likely both systemic solutions and individual tools to aid people in managing their energy and finding ways to renew, recharge, and recover from these daily and ongoing expectations may be needed. It was unexpected to discover that participants' experiences bore such a striking resemblance to people experiencing burnout (Angerer, 2003; Leiter & Maslach, 2001; Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Maslach et al., 2001), and coping with unemployment (Amundson & Borgen, 1987, 1988; Borgen & Amundson, 1984; Borgen et al., 2002). Both the burnout and unemployment literature were discussed in Chapter Two, but it was not expected they would play such a prominent role in framing the results of the current study. Perhaps their increased significance was not anticipated in part because of the conventional wisdom that people who are gainfully employed are doing well, have no problems to speak of, and therefore are not in need of help. This sentiment arose during a time when the world of work was stable, but as Savickas (2001b) and others have pointed out, the days of stable work, family, and societal environment are gone. The results of the current study begin to highlight the toll these changes are taking on otherwise highly functioning individuals in the current environment, and they may offer initial information about why absenteeism rates are rising and productivity rates are falling. It was also surprising to find that the emotions and experiences expressed in 231 the contextual component of the interview so closely paralleled the experiences of downsizing survivors (Amundson et al., 2004). The results obtained in the current study suggest transition is now an integral part of everyday life, in all spheres of people's lives, and is no longer limited to life-cycle changes, downsizings, or other major events that were once the exception rather than the norm. Participants described a staggering number of changes they were dealing with, across all arenas of their lives, and frequently found themselves dealing with anticipated, unanticipated, and non-event transitions (Schlossberg et al., 1995), endings, the neutral zone, and new beginnings (Bridges, 1991) all at the same time. That may in part have explained the coexistence of so many positive and negative emotions expressed by participants in the current study. Although participants self-reported as doing well with the changes they were facing, the emotional and psychological impacts they discussed suggest tools and interventions to help workers deal with this onslaught of transitions, as well as help them achieve or maintain emotional and psychological resilience, would be welcome. However, based on the limited number of helping incidents related to training offered by participants, and the complexity of participants' experiences, it is important to remember that interventions need to be holistic and address the needs of the whole person, as highlighted in recent studies (e.g., Butterfield & Borgen, 2005; Kelloway & Day, 2005a; Maglio et al., 2005). Another unexpected result was the number and depth of negative emotions expressed by this sample. Although they did share positive experiences, 95% of participants expressed more than double the number of negative emotions compared to positive emotions. This suggests that workers' experience of change is 232 difficult and complex, with both positive and negative reactions co-existing that need to be addressed if interventions are to be effective. As mentioned above, a holistic approach is essential to ensure the needs of the whole person are met. It was interesting that "having control" did not emerge as a critical incident. Having control was mentioned by many of the participants in the contextual component of the interviews, but it was not mentioned as helping or hindering, or as a wish list item. Having control, or not, seemed to affect the participants' emotional responses to the changes they experienced. It did not appear to play a role in being able to handle change well, or in their ability to learn how to handle change well. This is encouraging for individuals who find themselves facing changes affecting their work over which they have no control. It suggests control is not necessary in order to be able to handle change well. As discussed in Chapter Two, the psychological thriving literature was based on the observation that people experiencing an adverse or traumatic event not only return to their previous level of functioning (resilience), they often exceed it (thriving) (Carver, 1998). It is acknowledged that only one participant in the current study experienced what the thriving literature would consider an adverse event, yet the parallel between the experiences of participants in the current study and those who experienced an adverse or traumatic event was striking. Blankenship (1998) asserted that people in different life circumstances experience different kinds of challenges, and that the concept of thriving should therefore not be confined only to describe recovery from traumatic events. In a similar vein, Park (1998) talked about stress-related growth and thriving, and Ickovics and Park (1998) suggested that 233 "people can go beyond survival and recovery from an illness or stressor to thrive" (p. 238). The results of the current study suggest that although participants self-reported as doing well in the face of change, all but one had struggled emotionally, psychologically, and physically to handle events occurring in their personal and work lives. The results also suggest that oscillations between succumbing and thriving are occurring in individuals who have not experienced traumatic events, but are none the less experiencing high levels of distress that in turn affect their level of engagement, commitment, and productivity at work. Given that organizations need people who are thriving in order to be innovative, productive, competitive, and engaged, the results of the current study are sobering. 5.6 Limitations of the Current Study As is always the case, there are limitations to the current study. First, the CIT is known for generating large amounts of data that can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. The current study was no exception, producing a very large volume of data that could have been interpreted in several different ways. ATLAS/ti was an invaluable tool that assisted in managing the data so it was easily retrievable, but data coding decisions were still required that involved a level of judgment about what incidents meant and how to code them. This limitation was addressed by incorporating three credibility checks into the study design: (1) a second participant interview that invited participants to review their critical incidents and wish list items, view the categories into which they had been placed, and comment on whether the incidents were complete and they had been categorized correctly; (2) extraction of 234 25% of the helping and hindering critical incidents and wish list items by an independent coder; and (3) placement of 25% of the critical incidents and wish list items into the tentative category scheme by an independent judge. The high levels of agreement in all three checks suggest the decisions made were sound. Second, the critical incidents and wish list items elicited in the current study were self-reported, not observed. Flanagan (1954) addressed this potential limitation by comparing daily reports based on memory with daily written reports and found that recalled incidents could be relied upon to provide acceptable data. He offered the following criteria: "if full and precise details are given, it can usually be assumed that this information is accurate. Vague reports suggest that the incident is not well remembered" (p. 340). Flanagan's work on the accuracy of self-report was more recently supported by Woolsey (1986). There were only two vague incidents offered by participants in the current study, and as discussed in Chapter Four they were not included in the final data reported in the current study. The remaining 305 critical incidents and wish list items were clear, with rich and detailed supporting information. Thus it appears that vague reports were not an issue in the current study. According to Alfonso (1997), another limitation of self-reports is that they may include only those incidents an individual can remember during the interview. Inviting participants to share new incidents they remembered after the first interview, and including the second interview, addressed this concern in the current study. Third, the participants who volunteered for the current study self-selected themselves based on the criteria of having experienced changes affecting their work, and that they had handled those changes well. As volunteer participants, they may 235 have been predisposed to doing well, to making the best of things, or to seeing the bright side of things. However, more than twice the number of negative psychological impacts were shared by these participants compared to positive psychological impacts, which would not have been expected if they had been predisposed to seeing only the bright side of things. Fourth, this sample was not balanced for age, gender, education, occupation, or socio-economic status. Overall the participants were well educated, of middle to high-middle class socio-economic status, with a high number of professionals, more women than men, and more older than younger participants. Had the sample been more balanced, different results might have been obtained. Having said this, some differences were observed in the critical incidents and wish list items reported by younger and older participants compared to each other and when compared with mid-career participants. This suggests the sample was somewhat heterogeneous. Finally, this was an exploratory and descriptive study with a small purposive sample; therefore the results cannot be generalized to other populations. Its purpose was to shed light on what helps and hinders individuals in doing well with change. It was also intended to expand what we know about the lived experience of changes experienced by working women and men who self-reported as doing well in dealing with those changes. Since the experience of this population of workers is a little-researched, uncharted aspect of the counselling and vocational psychology fields, it was intended to provide a starting point and suggest directions for future research. These research implications are discussed below. 236 5.7 Implications for ClientsA/Vorkers The first major implication arising from the current study is the idea that there is a cost associated with doing well. Workers today are experiencing changes in all arenas of their lives, these arenas are interconnected, and the challenges associated with these changes are resulting in a high number of psychological and emotional impacts, some of which were highlighted by the current study. These findings are especially important because participants who were doing well i experienced these impacts. One can only imagine the impacts the current unstable environments are having on those individuals who are experiencing difficulties dealing with change. These results offer initial support for individuals' anecdotal stories of increased difficulty dealing with the myriad changes they are being asked to assimilate, while also being expected to be productive, creative, and flexible. The second major implication is that there is hope, both for workers who are handling change well, but perhaps more importantly for those individuals who are struggling to handle change at all. Fifty percent of participants said they had not always handled change well and offered their insights on what happened that enabled them to learn to handle change well. Several participants who had always handled change well also shared insights about what had altered so they were able to handle change even better than in the past. Thus the results of the current study suggest it is possible to change, to learn to handle change well, or at least to handle it better. The CIT results of the current study highlighted 10 helping strategies, and provided insight into their corollary hindering components, that offer the potential for 237 hope and help to individuals wanting to improve how they handle change. The third major implication arising from the current study is that having someone listen to a person's story can result in a change in perspective, greater insight, and a clearer understanding of the journey travelled up to that point. This is important because many programs are aimed at changing people's behaviours or improving their skills at particular tasks, not at helping them share their stories. Support comes from the results of the pre- and post-interview scaling questions, the effect size, and the impacts of the interviews reported by participants. Support also comes from the critical incident support categories where virtually all participants stated that talking to friends and family, professionals, and work colleagues helped them to handle change. Perhaps encouraging individuals to implement career community (Parker et al., 2004) or other such groups would facilitate individuals' ability to share their stories, learn from each other, and provide both intellectual and emotional support. Cultivating close relationships with important others also helps, and can be done without any professional help. 5.8 Implications for Practice and Theory The results of the current study start to shed light on workers' lived experiences of change and provide concrete examples of the ways in which people are reacting to living and working in challenging and complex environments. A major implication arising from the current study is the suggestion that there may be a cost associated with doing well in these environments. Clinicians might bear in mind that people, even those who are doing well, may be experiencing both positive and 238 negative emotions as they simultaneously experience well-being and distress, and that both need attending for interventions to be most effective (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1998). It is acknowledged that the majority of participants in the current study did not experience adverse or traumatic events such as those discussed in the psychological thriving literature (Carver, 1998; Park, 1998; Saakvitne etal., 1998). However, Park urged practitioners not to underestimate the pain, suffering, loss, and despair experienced by people who are dealing with stressors. Based on the emotional and psychological impacts of change discussed by participants, particularly the breadth and depth of both positive and negative emotions, the results suggest it may be important for practitioners to realize the deep emotional impacts this population of workers appears to be experiencing and ensure interventions are chosen accordingly. The results also support potential interventions that give workers an opportunity to talk about their experiences and reflect on their whole experience, on what has been helpful and what has not, rather than moving too quickly into problem solving or skills training. This is consistent with the findings of researchers looking at various transition situations (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Butterfield & Borgen, 2005; Maglio et al., 2005). It appears warranted to suggest clinicians take a balanced approach with clients and elicit the whole story, even with those who initially present as doing well. Another important finding of the current study for practitioners arises from the effect size obtained from the pre- and post-interview scaling question scores and anecdotal comments made by participants. These results suggest a trend towards 239 the interview itself having been helpful; that reflecting on and talking about their experiences of change and their naturally occurring strategies for dealing with it had an impact. This has important implications not only for clinicians in terms of taking a balanced approach as just discussed, but also for researchers and HR professionals. The results indicate it would be helpful for researchers to be mindful that a research interview is likely not a neutral event for participants; it has an impact. Thus it is important to be aware of the potential impacts, to check with participants frequently about how they are doing, and to ensure they are able to resume daily functioning at the end of the interview and know how to access help if needed. HR practitioners responsible for increasing worker productivity might consider implementing employer-sponsored on-site groups that are run by trained employees in a safe, supportive environment. Similar groups offered through the organization's EAP that facilitate employee discussions about their experiences of change and what helps or hinders might also be useful to this group of workers. Such groups might have the added benefit of also reducing the loneliness and isolation expressed by many participants. HR professionals might want to take note of the psychological and emotional impacts experienced by this group of participants in response to changes being imposed on them. As is noted in the work stress literature, many organizations provide stress management and EAPs (Jex & Crossley, 2005). Although the results of the current study cannot be generalized, they do suggest that at least for this group of individuals the corporate programs were either not providing the services needed, or they were not being communicated in a way they found meaningful. The 240 majority of participants sought and paid for their own support from external career coaches and counsellors. While this might alleviate things in the short-term, research suggests it may not be sustainable over time (Cooper et al., 2003). Thus HR professionals may find it is warranted to review their stress management and EAP programs, how they are communicated, and the purposes for which they exist. Human resource professionals might also want to review their HR practices and policies to see if they are meeting employees' needs. The American Psychological Association has suggested "organizations can become healthy by incorporating health promotion activities, offering employee assistance programs, having flexible benefits and working conditions, treating employees fairly, and offering programs for employee development, health and safety, and the prevention of work stress" (Kelloway & Day, 2005a, p. 223). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has suggested that a healthy organization needs to have the following organizational characteristics in place: (a) An emphasis within the organization on strategic planning and continuous improvement and career development among employees; (b) an organizational climate/culture that emphasizes innovation, conflict resolution, and employee sense of belonging; and (c) organizational values that emphasize commitment to technology, employee growth and development, and valuing the individual. (Jex & Crossley, 2005, p. 592) This becomes important when considering that the majority of participants mentioned virtually all of these factors as lacking in their workplaces, and thus hindering their ability to do well. This suggests it is important to provide individuals with the skills and training to help them learn to handle change well, but it may be equally important to ensure the work environment supports those skills or the effects of providing individuals with tools will not be sustainable (Amundson & Morley, 2002; 241 Francis & Barling, 2005; Kelloway & Day, 2005b). Recent Canadian studies have emphasized "the importance of a holistic approach, including both individual and organizational factors, and both physical and psychosocial factors as contributors and consequences of healthy workplaces" (Kelloway & Day, 2005a, p. 231). Finally, there are a number of other implications for counselling, career counselling and vocational psychology professionals. First, these results suggest there is a need for both career/vocational support and counselling support for this group of individuals. Far from having no issues to speak of because of being gainfully employed, it became clear from the contextual results that participants experienced emotional, psychological, physical, familial, and professional impacts as a result of the environments in which they lived and worked. Based on their words when explaining the impacts of the change, many appeared to experience symptoms consistent with depression, burnout, and stress. Many were also struggling with major career decisions. Counsellors have a role to play in helping these workers with the complex and difficult impacts of change, but for some reason only a few participants took advantage of counselling, preferring instead to access career or life coaches. Although it appeared they found these services helpful, given the depth of the impacts participants experienced these professionals may or may not have had the skills needed to provide the holistic services needed. There is perhaps a need for greater communication about the benefits of counselling, and for specific tools or interventions aimed at assisting individuals with the particular challenges they are facing. If counselling has come to be associated primarily with unemployment, trauma, drug and alcohol abuse, and other potentially devastating 242 events, it may be appropriate for counselling professionals to develop interventions s and communication strategies specifically targeted to this population of workers. Second, the data from this research suggests issues related to career adjustment are no longer confined to the point of initial entry into the workforce (Fouad, 2001; R. W. Lent, 2001; Tinsley, 2001) but are lifelong. One hundred percent of participants had experienced or were anticipating changes to their work situations. Approximately 50% had returned to school either part-time or full-time to train for new careers. This crossed all ages and career stages, offering support for the importance of Super's (1980) concept of career recycling. The results suggest career recycling is no longer a sign of being maladaptive, but is perhaps a sign of adapting to changing work and life circumstances (Sullivan et al., 2003). This indicates there is potentially an important role for career counsellors and vocational psychologists in better understanding this population's career adjustment needs and supporting them in making reasoned, informed career decisions. third, the participants' descriptions of the changes they had experienced challenges suggestions in the vocational psychology literature that change is something to be addressed in the future but is not an issue now (e.g., R. W. Lent, 2001). Based on the often poignant stories participants shared about the changes they had experienced in their work, family, and personal lives, and the disruptive impacts of those changes in all arenas of life, it would appear that change is an omnipresent force in workers' lives and they need help dealing with it right now. Finally, some of the results in the current study support Super's (1980) assumption that people work for job satisfaction and to express their self-concepts. 243 The participants who were returning to school in preparation for starting new careers were doing so in order to engage in work that was meaningful to them and would provide a sense of satisfaction they weren't experiencing in their current or past jobs. This stands in contrast to Blustein's (2001a) contention that the majority of people work in order to survive - to put food on the table and secure a place to live - not for self-actualization. What the results of the current study do, perhaps, is point out the complexity of what motivates people to work, and that a one-size fits all solution or theory may not fit every individual. These results highlight the opportunity for career counsellors and vocational psychologists to address the complicated, confusing, and demanding realities workers are facing today and to develop theories and tools or interventions that reflect these realities. 5.9 Implications for Future Research This was an exploratory study about a little known aspect of human experience that was intended to raise issues and questions for future researchers. As hoped, a number of areas for future research emerged from the results of the current study. First, it would be helpful to understand more about how workers move from not doing well with change to doing well. As the results of the current study suggest, participants experienced a wide-ranging array of difficult emotional and psychological impacts. Although they came to a point of doing well, the current study was not designed to uncover the journey individuals took to arrive there. Just as the studies charting the dynamics of unemployment (Borgen & Amundson, 1984, 1987) helped us understand the emotional and psychological impacts of being out of 244 work, so might a similar study focusing on workers who are doing well with change help us understand the dynamics involved in moving through that process. Such a study might benefit from studying workers experiencing change at several points in time in order to understand their experiences of change from different vantage points during the transition process (Schlossberg et al., 1995). Second, further research is needed to see whether a larger sample size would result in achieving statistical significance as well as practical significance in the pre- and post-interview scaling questions results. Understanding the impact of the interview process is important for researchers as already discussed, and has ethical implications for informed consent when talking to potential research participants (Kitchener, 2000). Determining the possible impact the interviews have on the researcher would be an interesting twist to add to this future research. Third, it would be interesting to know whether workers who self-report as doing poorly with change experience any positive psychological or emotional impacts of change. It was startling to find that this sample of workers who were doing well had such high incidences of negative psychological and emotional impacts. It is not known whether their reactions to the changes they experienced are similar to or different from their counterparts who are struggling. It might be that people who are handling change well are characterized by experiencing both positive and negative impacts, whereas their counterparts who are struggling might be experiencing only the negative impacts. It would be helpful to know if the types and depth of positive and negative emotions being experienced by these two groups of individuals are the same or different so that appropriate interventions and 245 programs can be developed. Fourth, the current study did not generate enough information about participants' appraisals of the changes they faced to know in what ways they perceived them. It would be interesting and helpful to know whether individuals who self-report as doing well with change accurately perceive and attribute the changes around them and see the potential for both positive and negative outcomes. The present study suggested this might be the case, but more information is needed. It would also be helpful to understand in what ways their appraisals and perceptions are the same as or different from their counterparts who are struggling. Finally, it would also be interesting to know whether there are substantial differences in the strategies for dealing with change between older workers, younger workers, and those in mid-career. Although this sample contained workers in all stages of their careers, there were not enough of them in the older or younger stages to be able to make any meaningful comparisons. The results of the current study hint at there being differences, with younger workers looking more internally for helping factors and older workers relying more on past experience, but further research is needed to test this tentative observation. 5.10 Conclusion It would appear that Bronfenbrenner (1976; 1977) was correct when he suggested individuals could not be fully understood without taking into account the systems in which they lived and realizing that these systems overlap and influence one another as well as the individual. When analyzing the results of the current 246 study it became clear that these 20 individuals were caught in the midst of demanding and competing systems, all of which were having an impact on the participants and on the other systems in which they worked, lived, and played. It also became clear that helping strategies in one domain were often used to help the participants deal with situations arising in a different domain. This suggests skills are transferable and can be used in multiple life arenas. Schwartz (2000) cautioned against using positive psychology to try and fix the world by fixing how people think about it. He was concerned that "when the world needs changing, we should change the world and not how people think about it" (p. 409). The burnout (Angerer, 2003; Leiter & Maslach, 2001), business (Frost, 2003), and work stress (Kelloway & Day, 2005a; Kelloway et al., 2005) literature also reinforce the impact of flawed work environments on workers and the need for changes in both the environment and workers to achieve sustainable workplace health and productivity. It appears the current study supports these beliefs that some things are bigger than the individual. The results of the current study suggest both a systemic and individual approach need to be taken in order to deal with the myriad, complex, and difficult changes individuals are facing, and the impacts of those changes, in order for long-term, sustainable benefits to be achieved. What these participants highlighted in the stories they shared was the cost associated with doing well, and they provided initial data suggesting there is a process involved in moving towards recovery or thriving. We need to understand more about this process in order to better serve the needs of these individuals. In addition to the human costs described by participants, these results have potentially 247 significant impacts for organizations that are relying on workers to be innovative, flexible, engaged and productive in a very competitive global economy. The results of the contextual component of the current study suggest that even those people who are doing well in this environment of ongoing and escalating change are struggling emotionally, psychologically, and physically with respect to changes, relationships and events both inside and outside the organization. There appears to be recognition in the workplace safety literature of the need for ergonomic support to protect workers' physical beings from excessive wear and tear on the job (Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia, 2005). The results of the current study suggest there may also be a need for employers, helping professionals, and individuals to recognize that practices, tools, and support are also necessary to protect workers' mental, emotional and spiritual beings. 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