Huh? What are you saying? That I should just create a new job out of thin air?
Well, not quite, but close.
If you don’t like your current position, you can engage in what’s called “job crafting” to make it what you want.
Yup, you can (and many people do this without realizing it) tailor your own job to fit your needs and play to your strengths.
If you’re a leader, that might sound a little unnerving. Maybe you think freedom for people to create their own jobs sounds like the beginning of chaos or anarchy in the office.
Actually, it’s the opposite, and here’s why.
Positive organization researcher, Amy Wrzesniewski, has found that job crafting is not only happening, whether you’re aware of it or not, it also has numerous benefits for employees and organizations.
- It allows employees to make their work more meaningful, leading to greater retention and commitment to the organization.
- It encourages employees to be more proactive in their work.
- People who craft their jobs perform significantly better than those who just chug along with their assigned job.
- Job crafters are more engaged in their work and less likely to be absent.
- Job crafters are happier; they have better mental health and wellbeing, which helps to make them more capable, confident, and creative.
That’s a fairly extensive and compelling list of benefits, right?
But what exactly does job crafting look like in practice?
- It’s an eye doctor who brings her personal passion for self-improvement to work, so she holds goal-setting and vision board sessions for her team.
- It’s the research director who brings his love of productivity and organization to a team by introducing and training everyone on a project management platform such as Base Camp or Slack.
Essentially job crafting is about people bringing knowledge and passion that is not part of their basic job description into the workplace and integrating it into what they do.
So, you can see job crafting is not anarchy. It is a value-added commitment in the organization.
If you’re still with me (thanks!), you’re probably wondering how to do this job crafting thing…
Fortunately, Wrzesniewski gives us a few strategies in the excellent book, How to Be a Positive Leader: Insights from Leading Thinkers on Positive Organizations. Here’s a brief summary:
#1. Optimize your existing job. For the next couple of weeks, monitor every task you do, how much time you’re spending on it, and how each of these tasks makes you feel. Then, think about your values, strengths, and passions, and evaluate if they’re aligned with how you’re spending your days. If they are, great! You may already have crafted your job exactly how you want it. If they’re not, think about how you could reallocate your time and energy so that you’re doing more of the tasks that light you up and fulfill you, and fewer of those that drag you down. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re not meeting your responsibilities; it means being creative in how you fulfill them.
#2. Be deliberate in your relationships. There are people you interact with daily that are energizers who lift you up and de-energizers who drain you. Consequently, the first step is to identify who you’re spending your time with and how much they’re impacting your energy so you can redefine your relational boundaries. The next step is to spend more time with energizers and less time with de-energizers. Or, if you don’t have any energizers in your current circle, it is time to look around and see who you could connect with that is an energizer. The ultimate goal here is to develop positive energizing relationships that can enable job crafting and bring more meaning and joy to what you do every day.
#3. Create an optimal workflow for your day. Just as you monitored your tasks in strategy #1, you’ll also want to monitor and identify when you are most productive and when you prefer to handle specific tasks. For example, I organize my days so that I’m doing my most thoughtful work in the morning—the activities that require quiet time, attention, and creativity. If I wait to do these in the afternoon, it doesn’t happen. I just don’t have the focus I need—it’s gone. That’s how it is for me, but everyone is different. You just need to figure out what works best for you and then, as far as possible, organize your days so they’re aligned with that.
Those strategies focus on how to craft an existing job. But what if you’re not exactly doing what you want and thinking about a career move?
That’s where the fourth strategy comes into play.
#4. Aspirational job crafting. This entails getting very clear on the aspects of your identity or the work you want to do that doesn’t yet exist for you. You can do this by making a list of what you do and don’t want in a position. Sometimes, this reveals that you need to be in a different position at your current organization, or it might indicate that you need to make a bigger change. The point is, do not despair if the job you want isn’t what you currently have. There are still opportunities for you to craft your way to it. You just need to sit down, think about your options, and how you can be creative about crafting what you want.
As a leader, these strategies apply both to you and your team members.
Think about how your team is doing. Maybe you’ve got a couple of people who are underperforming. Or, perhaps they’re doing okay, but their passion is elsewhere. You can encourage them to engage in aspirational job crafting or job crafting their current position.
Additionally, you could also arrange job crafting swap meets, where team members can trade tasks and responsibilities so that everyone’s closer to doing a job they love. In fact, Google actually uses this approach to focus their work teams. So, if it’s good enough for them, it might be good enough for your organization. 😉
Job crafting is happening under your nose every single day, even if you don’t realize it.
Sure, you could continue to let it be organic, but you could also deliberately harness this powerful process so that you and your team members are doing more meaningful and fulfilling work each day.
The choice is yours…
For a deeper discussion on this topic, tune into my podcast episode, Create the Job You Want, Not the Job You Were Given.
Let me know how you’re leveraging the power of job crafting in your organization. And remember, if you have positive leadership questions, email me at [email protected].
Plus, if you want more simple practices that can increase positivity in your workplace, download my book for free: 25 Tips for Leaders: How to Leverage the Science of Happiness to Increase Performance, Productivity, and Profitability.