Crafting a Better Job
Consider for a moment a midlevel manager at a multinational foods company, Fatima, who would seem to be at the top of her career. She’s consistently making her required benchmarks and goals, she has built successful relationships with colleagues, and senior management have identified her as “high potential.” But she isn’t happy with her work. She’d be much more interested in understanding how her organization can use social media in marketing efforts. Ideally, she’d like to quit and find something that better suits her passions, but in the current economic environment this may not be an option. So she has decided to proactively reconfigure her current job. Fatima is part of a movement toward job “crafting,” which is the process of deliberately reorganizing your job so that it better fits your motives, strengths, and passions. The core of job crafting is creating diagrams of day-to-day activities with a coach. Then you and the coach collaboratively identify which tasks fit with your personal passions, and which tend to drain motivation and satisfaction. Next the client and coach work together to imagine ways to emphasize preferred activities and de-emphasize those that are less interesting. Many people engaged in job crafting find that upon deeper consideration, they have more control over their work than they thought. So how did Fatima craft her job? She first noticed that she was spending too much of her time monitoring her team’s performance and answering team questions, and not enough time working on the creative projects that inspire her. She then considered how to modify her relationship with the team so that these activities incorporated her passion for social media strategies, with team activities more centered around developing new marketing. She also identified members of her team who might be able to help her implement these new strategies and directed her interactions with these individuals toward her new goals. As a result, not only has her engagement in her work increased, but she has also developed new ideas that are being recognized and advanced within the organization. In sum, she has found that by actively and creatively examining her work, she has been able to craft her current job into one that is truly satisfying.
1. Why do you think many people are in jobs that are not satisfying? Do organizations help people craft satisfying and motivating jobs, and if not, why not?
2. Think about how you might reorient yourself to your own job. Are the principles of job crafting described above relevant to your work? Why or why not?
3. Some contend that job crafting sounds good in principle but is not necessarily available to everyone. What types of jobs are probably not amenable to job crafting activities?
4. Are there any potential drawbacks to the job crafting approach? How can these concerns be minimized?
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