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?