Imagine you’re a 32-year-old midlevel manager - and you’re struggling at work. But nobody would know. You are a star member of the team. Time and again, you hit your targets. You put in decent hours and get on well with everyone at work. The senior managers see you as a ‘high potential’.
What your colleagues don’t realise is that you are not enjoying your job. You feel trapped – stagnating in your role. Your work hard, but you feel stuck in a rut and demotivated.
From a survey last year of 12,000 UK workers, it emerged that more than half of the UK workforce is in ‘crisis’, with more than half considering finding a new job and two-thirds dreading returning to work after a weekend break.
One in four were actively looking for a new job, and the number of people unhappy at work has risen 10 per cent in the past year.
If you’re one of these unhappy workers, what can you do? A growing body of research suggests that the answer could lie in a concept called ‘job-crafting’. The idea is that you re-define your role to accommodate your motives, strengths, and passions. You visualise the job, map its elements, and reorganise them to suit your specific needs, desires and skills. In other words, you put personal touches on how you see and do your job. You’ll gain a greater sense of control at work—which is especially critical at a time when you’re probably working longer and harder and expecting to retire later. Perhaps job crafting’s best feature is that it is driven by you, not your supervisor.
These are some of the aspects of your job that you might review -
Change the boundaries of your job by taking on more or fewer tasks, expanding or diminishing their scope, or changing how they are performed. A sales manager, for instance, might take on additional event planning because he likes the challenge of organising people and logistics.
Change the nature or extent of your interactions with other people. A Managing Director, for example, might create mentoring relationships with young associates as a way to connect with and develop those who represent the future of the firm.
Change how you think about the purpose of certain aspects of your job. For example, you’re the director of a not-for-profit organisation. You might think of your job as two separate parts - one not especially enjoyable (the pursuit of contributions and grants) and one much more meaningful (creating opportunities for those you support).
Here are some of the steps you might take as part of the job-crafting process.
Diagramming your job
This involves literally looking at your job as a series of interconnecting building blocks. You use a series of squares to represent the tasks that your job comprises, with larger squares representing time-intensive tasks, and smaller squares for the tasks requiring less time. You start with a ‘before’ diagram. Once you’ve put this together, you might see that you’re spending lots of time on tasks that don’t engage your passions - and less on tasks that are meaningful to you.
Next, produce your ‘after’ diagram – your plan for the future.
You begin by identifying your motives, strengths, and passions - three important considerations in determining which aspects of your job will keep you engaged and inspire higher performance. In your diagram, you might represent each with a different colour.
Your main motives, for example, might be cultivating meaningful relationships and achieving personal growth. You put these into blue ovals in your diagram. Your core strengths might be one-on-one communication and technical knowledge.
These appear in the green ovals. Your passions, for instance - developing others, using and learning new technology – go into yellow ovals.
From the employer’s point of view
Employers have plenty to gain by enabling job crafting. Most job-redesign models put the onus on managers to help employees find satisfaction in their work. In reality, leaders rarely have sufficient time to devote to this process. Job crafting lets managers turn the reins over to employees, empowering them to become ‘job entrepreneurs’. And when pay resources are constrained or promotions impossible, job crafting may give Companies a different way to motivate and retain their most talented employees. It can also help transform poor performers.
Your job comprises a set of building blocks that you can reconfigure to create more engaging and fulfilling experiences at work.
The Limits of Job Crafting
Not all job crafting is beneficial. It can be stressful if, as a result, you take on too much, or you adjust your tasks without considering the Company’s goals. Of course, job crafting isn’t something you can do totally on your own. It’s important to be open about the process. You need to be working in a business that’s open to the idea and is prepared to give you the time and space to manage the process. A supportive manager may even be able to help you with the diagramming process. You also need the cooperation of your colleagues. But this might be easier than you think. After all, one person’s dreaded assignment may be another’s favourite.
To win support for your job crafting, focus on creating value for others, building trust, and identifying the people who will accommodate you.
Job crafting is a simple visual framework that can help you make meaningful and lasting changes in your job—in good economies and bad. But it all has to start with taking a step back from the daily grind and understanding that you have the ability to reconfigure the elements of your work.
Many employees (at all levels, in all kinds of occupations) who try job crafting end up more engaged and satisfied with their work lives, achieve higher levels of performance and report greater personal resilience.
The bottom line? Make sure that you are shaping your job, not letting your job shape you.
Is job-crafting a process that could work for you or in your business? Why not talk to us about the idea. Here at Gravitas HR, we love innovation, and we’re to help you explore all HR options for you or for your business.
For straight-talking HR advice - 01604 763494
Or email - info@GravitasHR.co.uk