Job Crafting Your Way to a Better Career

What is Job Crafting and Why Does it Matter?

Job crafting – otherwise known as taking proactive steps and actions to redesign what we do at work to make it more engaging and meaningful – is one way to increase your job satisfaction, overall fulfillment and maybe even your income! And all of this without having to leave your current company, colleagues, or leadership team? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s no secret that the world of work has changed drastically over the past couple years. The Great Resignation, The Great Reshuffle, The Great Rethink… whatever name you land on, one thing remains the same – employees are making changes and taking back control of their careers and how they work. Job crafting is one way of taking the parts you enjoy about your job, company, or career and shaping it to better suit your needs and goals – today.

The Advent of Job Crafting and Career Design

In 2001, Professor Amy Wrzesniewski first introduced the concept of job crafting with Jane Dutton, co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations. Their research shows three distinct ways of job crafting. Let’s take a look at each and how we can apply them to crafting our way to a better career.

1. TASK CRAFTING

Task crafting is the most common method we think of when talking about job crafting. This often involves eliminating or adding on responsibilities outside of your official job description. It may also involve how you allocate your time and energy to different parts of your role. Task crafting, like all job crafting, is employee-run. We’re not talking about responsibilities that are added to your job description. Rather, job crafting is taking on new projects or delegating reporting responsibilities in order to create more fulfilling and meaningful work for you.

EXAMPLE: Kyle, a Senior Executive Assistant, enjoys writing and creating content. He has offered to take over drafting the monthly message from the CEO, in addition to writing a weekly blog for the company website.

2. RELATIONSHIP CRAFTING

Relationship crafting is about reshaping and changing the interactions employees have with others. This may be switching up the team you work on, joining a different committee, attending networking events, or reaching out to people in other departments to learn more about the work they do. Relationship crafting empowers the employee to seek out new connections at work and who they engage with on a regular basis.

EXAMPLE: Kris, a Chief of Staff, joins the finance division’s weekly meetings in order to learn more about the company’s new revenue streams and what sort of involvement will be needed from the CEO. In addition, Kris has joined the company’s wellness committee to hold herself accountable to her own fitness goals, as well as to meet new employees from across the organization.

3. COGNITIVE CRAFTING

The third type of job crafting is cognitive crafting. Cognitive crafting involves employees changing their perspective and mindset about the tasks and work that they do. A great example of this is the Bricklayer’s Parable:

Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”
The first says, “I am laying bricks.”
The second says, “I am building a church.”
And the third says, “I am building the house of God.”
The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

Each bricklayer was doing the same activity, but their thinking and the meaning they attributed to it was vastly different. How can you apply this same concept to your work?

EXAMPLE: Karli, an Executive Assistant, has been an executive support professional for twenty years and has seen it all. At her current company, she has been less than thrilled when handling repetitive tasks such as processing correspondence and triaging emails. She decides to employ cognitive crafting and reminds herself that processing mail and emails gives her unique insight into the priorities of the organization, as well as a better understanding of the communication style, thinking process, and decision making of her CEO.

The Three Methods Together Help Design Your Ultimate Career

Over the years, I’ve used all three types of job crafting to create a better career for myself (one that provides me with challenges, fulfillment, and meaning). I’ve taken over writing blog posts, helped to write a book, and began coaching and training (none of which was part of my original Chief of Staff job description). I’ve invited myself to meetings or asked to attend various training events in order to be in the same room as other leaders I wanted to learn from or get to know better. And I strive to reframe the work I do, particularly when it feels “boring”, into something that provides value for the organization. And, quite frankly, if it doesn’t, I will start task crafting to either eliminate that particular project or delegate it to someone who will find meaning in it. Job crafting is certainly a technique I’ve used to stay at my current company (and largely in the same position) for over eleven years.

Have you used job crafting before? Have you seen improvement in your job satisfaction or career growth? How can you use job crafting now to create a better career?


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