Rod Waddington deposited Using innovative and creative methods to negotiate a mine field of emotions: doing action research in a toxic organisation on Humanities Commons 5 years, 11 months ago
Doing action research in your own organisation is a daunting task for novice researches. When the organisation is toxic due to destructive leaders, susceptible followers and a conducive environment it is even more difficult to navigate through the research processes. As an HRD Manager in a TVET college I have personally experience and witnessed the negative effect of toxicity on employees’ wellness. Due to the emotional abuse of employees special care has to be taken not to further traumatise participants in the research project. I undertook a self-study, action research enquiry in order to generate a living theory of organisational development. The aim of the research was to contribute to organisation development, to improve my own health and to influence a cohort of managers to improve their health through nurturing life enhancing values. Using a participative, collaborative and caring approach we worked within the framework of dialogic organisation development drawing on chaos and complexity theory. In this presentation I focus on how we were able to work together as members of the action learning set to cogenerate data for analysis using creative and innovative methods that accommodated colleagues who had faced trauma in the workplace. Our findings indicate that through the use of visual methodologies, openspace technology and equine grooming, action set members were able to narrate their stories, find their voice, start to experience healing from their emotional trauma and develop new coping methods to deal with the toxicity in the workplace. The significance of this research is that our experience of working with emotional content using innovative and creative methods may be of interest to others who wish to work ethically with participants in their own organisation.