Five Steps to Crafting Your Perfect Role

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We go through days when we are dissatisfied with our jobs, don't feel challenged anymore by the work we are doing, question if we are adding any value to our organisations, and ponder if our work is answering our calling. We wake up every morning disenchanted, no longer driven by what we do. We stop seeing the meaning, we feel unhappy and more often quitting our job seems to be the solution.

Luc Dorenbosch, a researcher at an Amsterdam-based company in the Netherlands that helps people rethink their work in new and creative ways says people quite often fall out of love with their jobs when actually it’s just a few small things that are making them unhappy. In his research he found that people are satisfied with 80 percent of a job, but it’s the ‘bothersome’ 20 percent of the job that is making them want to leave, while in many cases, rather it would be better to experiment with one’s current job and see if they can make it more satisfying. What he is referring to is the discipline of “job-crafting” - reshaping our jobs in such a way that it makes us happy again.

What is Job Crafting?

Coined in 2001 and the outcome of a research by Michigan Ross School of Business - Positive Organisational Centre, the term "Job Crafting" is defined as "captures the active changes employees make to their own job designs in ways that can bring about numerous positive outcomes, including engagement, job satisfaction, resilience, and thriving." The research was based on real stories of employees who have succeeded in taking advantage of opportunities to customise their jobs by actively changing tasks and interactions with others resulting in them becoming happier and attaining higher levels of self-fulfillment. How did they do that? for example, by contributing to an important project, creating new ways of doing things so the job becomes less repetitive, offering to help colleagues as a way to increase social interaction, and sharing knowledge.

In her famous video – “Job Crafting- On Creating Meaning In Your Own Work”, Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Yale School of Management, discusses the art and science of job crafting.

Featuring in the above mentioned research, Wrzesniewski studied hospital maintenance workers to look at how job crafting affected their work experience and morale. She set up two groups - one simply followed the job description while the second was asked to take on other, related tasks of their own choosing. Differences between the two groups were significant - the second group found meaning in their work and saw themselves and their purpose as radically different from their counterparts. She found that allowing an employee to influence work scope changes the meaning of that work, and allows them to take ownership of their job. Wrzesniewski’s work shows that job crafting can foster engagement, job satisfaction, and resilience.

Josh Bersin also describes how ‘job crafting’ enables employees to create “meaningful work”, one of five core drivers of employee success in the Simply Irresistible model for the employee engagement (Fig.1). According to this model, this whole principle of “autonomy” to job craft is a major practice of effective leadership to help employees thrive in and from the work they do.

Fig.1 - Source: BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Fig.1 - Source: BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP

5 steps to find your calling in what you do

  1. Start by keeping track of your feelings during the day. Pay attention to what makes you feel good, what energises you and what helps you be at your best; what things drain your energy and make you feel dissatisfied.

  2. List your daily tasks for a full week with notes next to those that bring you up and those that push you down and reason why they make you feel the way they do and how long you spend on each. Then analyse time you devote to the positive and the negative.

  3. See if and how you can increase the time spent on the things that energise you. Are there any opportunities there where you can shift the focus from the negative to the positive activities? What other elements make your job more enjoyable? Who are the people you enjoy interacting with most?

  4. Explore what other aspects of your job are fun and make you feel happy. Is it interacting with colleagues and customers perhaps? After-all, it is proven that quality connections with other people does give meaning to our jobs.

  5. Talk about it with your manager and colleagues and discuss changes you can make together to make your jobs more fulfilling for each other.

Let’s bring it home

For organisations keen on creating workplace environments where employees thrive and  perform at their best, job crafting is a powerful tool for employee engagement and wellness if implemented and managed effectively. For that, it requires a strategy in place and has to align with both the employee and company’s goals. It also needs to be embraced and supported by all seniority levels of the organisation.

As individuals, for us to be happy at work and our work to have meaning, our jobs must align with our purpose in life, allow us to enjoy working with the people around us, and our tasks must contribute to the overall vision of the organisation we belong to. Next time you are demotivated by what you do and jumping fence seems the only escape to happy-land, try rediscovering your work in a manner that opens your eyes and mind to see the greener pastures in your own backyard first.

Build the skills you need to craft your perfect role…

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Hanadi El Sayyed’s writing explores the future of human resources and its impact on business, people and the future of work. She is the Founder of &humans, a consulting firm dedicated to raise the potential of HR leadership as they strive to innovate their organisation’s digital workforce experience and rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that exceed the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.

She has over 15 years’ experience in HR and specialises in creating employee experiences that mirror best customer experiences with people at the heart and powered by technology and data. Previously, Hanadi has worked for Majid Al Futtaim, one of the largest organisations in the Middle East where she took on key HR leadership roles. She received a Bachelor of Science from the American University of Beirut and a Masters of Economic Development from University of London. Follow Hanadi on Twitter @Hana_ElSayyed and on LinkedIn. She can be contacted on