Karen Darrin

My client came to me wanting to regain her “new hire energy” for her current job. She felt stagnant and trapped by the tension between day-to-day demands and what she really wanted to be doing. Sound familiar? Over the past couple years, I’ve spoken with hundreds of people, in a variety of industries and occupations, who, like my client, are feeling stuck.

If you’re in this situation, and changing roles or companies is unrealistic, what can you do? A growing body of research suggests that an exercise called “job crafting” can be a powerful tool for reenergizing and reimagining your work life. It involves redefining your job to incorporate your motives, strengths, and passions. Read the entire study here: What is Job Crafting and Why Does it Matter? – Michigan School of Business

Job crafting may seem like a simple idea, but what makes it a really powerful tool is that it allows you to increase the control you have over your own professional life, while “wowing” your employer at the same time. Practically any job can be crafted, at least to some extent, and you can start whenever you want, without necessarily consulting managers or having to wait for their approval.

You can make changes in one or more of the following areas to craft the way you work, so that it’s closer to your “ideal” job.

  • Task content: This involves improving the way that things are done, using skills that you already have; or using your knowledge to change working methods, so that you can generate better results.  In short, it’s about creating opportunities to play to your strengths. (If you’re not sure what your strengths are, use Mindtool’s Reflected Best Self™ exercise or my standard, Myers Briggs Type Indicator Myers Briggs Test to explore them.) One of my clients loved teaching finance but his current job as a Financial Analyst left little room for “teaching,” until he looked into the volunteer benefit options his company had.  He ended up teaching finance through Junior Achievement with local high schools a few work days a year.  It was a win for him and the company.
  • Relationships: Here, you might look for ways to have more satisfying interactions with other people during the course of your work each day. Volunteer to mentor new hires or reach out to individuals you admire asking for a brief “informational interview” over coffee. Google questions to ask. Have a 1-1 lunch with a team member you don’t know that well. Endeavor to expand your network both inside and outside your company. Create new connections. Those connections may become very important some day. You never know.
  • Purpose: You can also redefine your existing work to reflect what you see as being the real impact of what you do at work. Your impact may be overarching or focused on making one person’s day a little bit better. For example, a programmer working in the IT department of an airline could reframe her work from “writing code” to “helping people enjoy trouble-free travel”. Use your imagination and take a look at what you do with different eyes. Brainstorm with a friend or coach to come up with a fresh reframing of what you contribute to the organization.

Job crafting is a proactive process which involves flexible action and can help you cope with changes better.  Whether you find your work meaningful or not, and the relationships you have at work are valuable to you or not depends on how proactive you are willing to be in reframing and crafting your work to become meaningful to you.

CALL TO ACTION:  Let’s brainstorm on how to “job craft” your current role. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here:  Schedule Free Consult.

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