Rebuilding Meaning after a Work-Related Trauma
In this webinar, I present some of my ongoing research on professional musicians and dancers who have been forced to give up or significantly change the work that they do because of injury. This is an especially traumatic experience for these individuals because their injury not only leads to a loss of career and livelihood but also, and very importantly, it deeply challenges the meanings they have made about themselves, their vocations, and their possible futures. Through repeated interviews conducted over an eight year period, I explore how these performing artists make sense of what has happened to them and what it means for what they can do and who they can become. While some musicians and dancers experience "posttraumatic growth" (a kind of transformational positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crises), others struggle to create generative new meanings in their work and other parts of their lives. Most tread circuitous and quite precarious paths as they endeavour to build new lives and identities that are separate from but often still connected to the work which has been most meaningful to them. In this talk, I share these artists' stories, explore the meanings that they make over time, and discuss the implications of the study for our understanding and management of work-related trauma, posttraumatic growth, and forced transitions that disrupt the pursuit of highly meaningful work.
Sally Maitlis is Professor of Organizational Behavior and Leadership at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Her research explores the emotional side of organizational life, with a particular interest in understanding how people make sense of challenging and often painful issues at work, and their experiences of suffering, healing, and growth. Sally specializes in qualitative research, closely observing individual, team and organizational processes as they unfold in real time. Her work has been published in most of the major management journals, including the Academy of Management Annals, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Relations, Organizational Science, and Organizational Studies. At Oxford, Sally is the Academic Director of the Oxford High Performance Leadership programme, contributes to a variety of other executive programmes, and works as an executive and leadership coach. She also has a background in counselling psychology, which underpins much of her research, teaching and coaching
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