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UBC Theses and Dissertations

What helps or hinders toxic handlers in the performance of their jobs MacLean, Laura Lee


The experience of being a toxic handler is filled with many challenges and rewards. Presently, there is not a great deal of literature available on the methods used to deal with the demands of this type of job. A large part of the literature looks at quantitative studies, which outline various strategies for dealing with the challenges of various working life scenarios, always excluding the direct "voice" of the participants. This study is an attempt to address this gap. Flanagan's (1954) Critical Incident Analysis was used in this study to investigate what helps and hinders toxic handlers in the performance of their jobs. Through in -person interviews, 9 participants from main stream Canadian culture were asked to explain their stories as toxic handlers. From their stories critical incidents were highlighted, and outcomes gleaned, leading to the development of relevant categories. A total of 34 critical incidents and 87 outcomes were collected. Nine helping categories and four hindering categories emerged from an inductive study of the incidents reported by the nine participants. The results indicate that the helping categories employed by the participants are the following: (a) positive personal attitude, (b) physical activity, (c) personal satisfaction with job done, (d) support from colleagues, (e) outside support, (f) relaxation strategies, (g) belief in company's product/service, (h) affecting positive change in worker (i) decision to leave organization. Hindering themes which have an impact on the toxic handler include: (a) lack of company support, (b) long term negative job culture, (c) geography, (d) negative emotions. Participants cross -checking, independent rater, participation rate, and theoretical agreement confirmed the validity of the categories. Counselling implications are discussed, along with practical ways of applying the results of this study to the business environment.

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