The old saying goes that most people don’t work according to their passion. Their jobs pay the bills, but they don’t ignite any internal fires or otherwise inspire. And the reality is, it’s pretty difficult to find a perfect position. However, job crafting is an option, and it could just be the ideal way to find the balance between what your work is with what you want it to be.
What Is Job Crafting?
Job crafting is the process of evaluating your current work and gradually shifting your duties so the job is more enjoyable or aligned with your talents, knowledge, and goals. It’s a gradual process in cooperation with your boss and/or team, but to get the ball rolling, you might have the opportunity to make specific shifts in your task set relatively quickly.
It’s quite common for managers to put more — or varied — responsibilities on a worker’s plate. They assert these new responsibilities fall under an “…and other duties as assigned” clause that’s either strongly socially implied or actually noted in the hiring documentation. Job crafting similarly rejects the notion that a position is static and acknowledges that work might evolve over time based on a company’s needs and the markets.
Whereas a manager is in control of original job design or “other duties,” the employee directs job crafting. They bring ideas to their manager for what to do and make a business case for why those changes make sense. Having a say in the matter could significantly benefit a worker in terms of mental health. It also makes the employee a much more active participant in deciding not only their own career path, but also the path of the company. Further, it requires that the employee have an excellent understanding of the company’s vision, the business’ current situation, and how they fit into what the business should or must be in the future.
Done well, job crafting can mean that you are happier and more productive at work, end up with a better salary/rate and that your job is actually more indispensable to the business.
Putting Job Crafting Into Action
These tips should help anyone throughout their inaugural journey toward crafting a career most suited for them through their current roles.
1. Set priorities.
What is most important to you for work? What would you like to become as a professional or have the ability to do? Get a clear picture of what matters and will motivate you most. Don’t worry about how feasible any of it seems given your current job description. Just clarify where you want to go and try to find some parallel with what the company has said they want to do.
2. Identify the logistical steps necessary to turn your priorities into reality.
For example, if you want to be more front-facing with partners or customers, it’s a good idea to connect with some people you can refer to your manager as clients. This will show that you can advocate for the company and you have people skills. Similarly, you might realize that getting approval to automate a process would free you to target other in-person projects.
3. Clarify the business benefit your new self-appointed responsibilities will bring.
Show that each suggested change actually translates to some kind of productivity, relationship, cultural or financial gain. Bring in visuals or statistics to back up what you are saying and explain your game plan for carrying out new tasks. This shows that your concepts are viable — and that you’re serious about them.
4. Confirm that shifts to your position will not result in loss or conflict.
Your manager won’t support you if they feel any shifts could result in any negative consequences that would outweigh gains. Explain how you plan to minimize risk or how you plan to continue to perform your original duties in conjunction with your new suggestions.
5. Start acting in one small area and offer consistent progress reports.
Pick one priority area to work on and take positive action on the first steps toward that goal. Give plenty of notice and be transparent through all the work. Update your team as you accomplish milestones along the way. If you’ve made some mistakes or need to rethink anything, that’s OK. Just be open with everyone about what you are adjusting and why, and accept accountability as you go along. Repeat this step until you have achieved the goal and then move on to the next objective.
MORE FOR YOU
MORE FOR YOU
6. Gradually drop off old responsibilities, if possible.
As your boss sees you doing well in your new areas and older responsibilities become less relevant to the business, work with your boss and team to remove those tasks from your calendar over time.
7. Form new relationships to interact in different ways.
This point is something you actually can — and should — do throughout the entire job-crafting process. The idea is that changes to your interactions can shift the opportunities you have for various things. It also helps you broaden your support network while painting you as someone with more expertise, grit, and integrity. All of these elements improve the odds that you’ll be successful in the attempts you make.
As you make changes to what you’re doing and how you’re interacting, don’t underestimate the power of your own mindset. In fact, some experts view “cognitive crafting” as an approach to job crafting in itself. Simply seeing things from a different perspective can help you cope with areas of your job you can’t shift much or consider alternative ways of working around them. And when you’re positive about yourself and others, it’s easier to maintain confidence and not quit. Make many small adjustments with a good attitude and you’ll have a job that fits you better in no time.