Developing meaningfulness at work through emotional intelligence training

Thory, Kathryn (2016) Developing meaningfulness at work through emotional intelligence training. International Journal of Training and Development, 20 (1). pp. 58-77. ISSN 1468-2419 (

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To date, there remains a significant gap in the Human Resource Development (HRD) literature in understanding how training and development contributes to meaningful work. In addition, little is known about how individuals proactively make their work more meaningful. This article shows how emotional intelligence training promotes learning around sources of meaningful work and documents managers’ experiences of independently applying what they have learnt about meaningfulness from the EI training to the workplace. Data is collected from participant observations and interviews with trainers and managers attending three externally provided, ‘popular’ EI training courses. Interpreting the data through Lips-Wiersma and Morris’s (2009, 2011) model of meaningful work enables a clear articulation of managers’ capacity to shape their work environments to create four, interconnected sources of meaningfulness: inner development, expressing one’s full potential, unity with others and serving others. Findings also exemplify structural and agential constraints when individuals attempt to create meaningful work. Practically, the study demonstrates the importance of training to enhance work of value and significance and offers recommendations for practitioners.