How to Redefine Your Career Through Job Crafting
Imagine dragging yourself daily from bed to work. Imagine doing the same tasks over and over. Imagine ranting about your boss, your colleagues, or your work situation in social media. Imagine meeting people; then, introducing yourself as an accountant, doctor, IT consultant, or lawyer but without enthusiasm.
Your work doesn't motivate you. You're stuck in a rut of your own making. Every day is dry and cheerless. It's Monday and you can't wait for Friday to roll in.
What if you can do things differently?
Enter job crafting. Redefine your career by making it more meaningful, engaging, and satisfying. Create a work environment that you can enjoy. Find resources to help, seek challenges, and reduce the demands of your job.
Through this guide, you can discover how to redefine your career through job crafting.
What is Job Crafting
A 2014 study by Evangelia Demerouti is the most- cited research in the field of job crafting. In her study, she discussed what job crafting is all about and what are its merits.
The study defined job crafting in terms of three aspects.
First, job- crafting is employee-initiated. The idea begins with you. You're on the field and in the midst of the action. You know the areas where improvements can occur. If the current work set-up bores you and if you feel that you can do better, you must also initiate the move to change it.
Second, changes can be made in job demands or job resources. Another study by Petrou et.al. covered it more comprehensively. The study defined job crafting as involving three areas: resource seeking, challenges seeking, and demands reducing.
Resource seeking may involve asking feedback or advice from colleagues or your boss to cope up better with the completion of tasks and goal achievement.
Seeking challenges involves going beyond the scope of your work, accepting additional tasks, or tackling an assignment that requires a new skill set or expertise.
Reducing demands may involve task delegation or engaging in processes that can reduce workload or adopting a set of habits that will enable separation of work from private life.
Lastly, job crafting aims to make the job more meaningful, engaging, and satisfying. Though another study proclaimed that work engagement is not directly related to job crafting, the intended outcome of the latter borders on making a positive change.
Think about it.
What if you can control the work that you do? What if you can define each day of your work as a new beginning?
CarI (not his real name) is an accountant in a professional services firm. As an accountant, he's in charge of preparing reports on a specific financial account. He records transactions for that account, day-in, and day-out. You can only imagine the kind of dull routine that he has to endure.
One day, struck by inspiration, Carl decided to create a learning guide for his colleagues. He used his Photoshop skills to craft an interactive, creatively-designed guide for recording transactions. His colleagues appreciated it. His boss used the guide as part of the training manual for new hires.
As you go through the case, there might be several thoughts popping in.
When Carl created the guide, was he already done with his tasks?
What if his colleagues interpreted his action as a display of competitive streak? Or as a sign of someone who has too much time in his hands and little work to do?
What if his boss neglected his output and instead dumped more work on him so that he'll have no chance to consider a side project again?
As you consider job crafting, bear in mind the challenges that might prevent its success.
Eliminate these challenges first. Or at least, be aware that you might encounter resistance.
Challenge #1: The company's culture and tone at the top
You might have entered a company that's rigid and inflexible. Every action follows a set of rules and a fixed structure. The leaders are authoritative and traditional. All orders flow from them and the employee's only job is to follow. Any deviation from the routine and ordinary will earn frowns and dismissal.
Challenge #2: Lack of opportunity because of a controlling boss
Your company encourages creativity and side projects. But somehow, you got assigned to a boss who believes otherwise. Your boss only wants you to focus on your work. Anything else is just dilly-dally and unprofessional. Because your work holds the reins to your potential promotion, you're inclined to follow your boss’ whims.
Challenge #3: Time and resource constraints
You know your passion and skills. You've already identified areas of improvement in your current work. But, there's just no time to work on it as a side project. New tasks keep flowing in, deadlines pile one after another, all sorts of demands occupy your time.
Or you've wanted to do something different. But it might entail additional costs or people that your company cannot spare.
Challenge# 4: Little or zero appreciation for the extra effort
You're aware that going beyond the usual boundaries of your work will go unappreciated. You'll have little to zero support and even less engagement from your colleagues. It will not even reflect as part of your salary or bonus. So why bother at all?
Which of those challenges do you have now?
As an employee who's into job crafting, all initiatives will be coming from you. Hence, even resolving these challenges should be the necessary first step that you're willing to make. Also, a "good job crafting" should always lead to positive results and add value. You should not consider job crafting as an alternative to your original job description. After all, the company hired you to do a certain kind of work. And that's still your priority.
If job crafting appears difficult now, why would you even still consider it?
First, it can be a constant source of inspiration and motivation.
You suddenly have something to look forward to. Before going to sleep, you're bombarded with ideas and new things to try. The best thing about it –you're in charge. You take matter into your hands and you're willing to take on both the risks and rewards.
Second, it's the next best alternative before quitting.
You're about to quit your current job but you want to give it one more chance. Many reasons might drive your reason for quitting. But before you do it, make sure to explore other options. There might be areas you haven't work on yet that can replenish the lost energy or reignite your spark of motivation.
Third, it will look good on your resume.
If you're into job crafting, it would be a mistake not to include it in your resume. Even if your current company might not appreciate the extra work that you did, your future company might be different. It will be a good reflection of your drive and enthusiasm.
Fourth, it will get you promoted—fast.
Of course, it's not the sole determinant of promotion. But when you take on job crafting, you're on a quick path to getting noticed, especially if it's new challenges that you're taking. You can drive your career forward with it.
Fifth, it will enable you to use your hidden skills/ interests/ talents/passion for things that you're good at even if they're not part of your current job.
This is probably the main purpose why employees consider job crafting as an avenue for finding passion at work. Imagine being able to use your talent for singing, dancing, arts or writing in order to add extra value. You will not even feel forced to do it because it's something that you love.
Now, you must be excited already to explore job crafting and prove its merits.
Before you do, here are some practical advice on how you can do it:
- Start by talking to your boss/mentor/coach and even colleagues. Discuss the idea. Even though the potential for refusal is high, it's' always a good thing to make them aware of what you're up to.
- Make a career map. List down your goals and ambitions. Somewhere along the process, you'll realize what you're good at. Use job crafting as a tool to build on the skillset that you'll need for your dream job.
- Ask around. Learn about your company's pain points. You'll probably find many opportunities on how you can contribute.
- Prepare a plan. If you're already intending to do an extra task, plan it around your current deliverables. Ensure that your original tasks will not suffer.
- Keep track of the results. In everything that you do, results speak for itself.
Finally, bear in mind that job crafting is just an option for sustaining your engagement at work.
Again, the initiative comes from you—the employee. But it doesn't mean that your own company can do away with initiatives to drive engagement just because most of its employees are inclined to do job crafting.
Remember that job crafting should always lead to positive results. You should never abandon your original job in favor of the newly-crafted job.
But who knows, when you finally leave a certain company, the job that you crafted can actually be a stepping stone for many more endeavors.
Demerouti, E. (2014). Design Your Own Job Through Job Crafting. Retrieved April 25, 2020. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/aace/eeaeca3e3f27db0aa99ef9d3840cda1c691d.pdf?_ga=2.166058682.547808623.1587783533-764830071.1582183829
Petrou, P., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2018). Crafting the Change: The Role of Employee Job Crafting Behaviors for Successful Organizational Change. Journal of Management, 44(5), 1766–1792. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206315624961
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2020 Chris Martine