For most of us, the job we do is an extremely important aspect of who we are. Our job is part of our identity, representing the realisation of our interests, values and capabilities. Often we spend as much time at work as we do on all other aspects of our life.
So it’s a sad fact that many of us, at some point in our lives, will find ourselves in a job we hate. And worse, although we feel unhappy, unfulfilled, dissatisfied or disengaged, we stay in jobs that don’t provide us with the sense of challenge, meaning and fulfilment that we crave because we feel hopelessly stuck in our circumstances.
We believe we don’t have the skills to do anything else, we feel too exhausted to apply for other jobs, or we think the current labour market is against us.
So is it possible to take charge of your job satisfaction without changing jobs?
People who find their job inherently meaningful, regardless of the tasks they are doing, are generally more satisfied and happier at work. Job crafting is increasingly being recognised as a legitimate career development tool that helps people change their jobs in small but tangible ways, enabling them to derive more meaning and fullfilment from their work.
You might think that your job description is set in concrete, and that from where you sit in the hierarchy you’re in no position to influence anything or anyone around you, let-alone change your role to enhance your personal job satisfaction. But by viewing your job as a flexible set of tasks and interpersonal relationships within your broader job description, rather than a rigid set of duties, job crafting encourages you to look at how you might customise your job to better fit your motives, strengths and passions. Finding opportunities to pro-actively change the boundaries of tasks and relationships within a job has been shown to enhance personal meaning, engagement and job satisfaction.
Here are three job crafting techniques to consider:
Task crafting – taking on more tasks, expanding or diminishing the scope of tasks, or changing how you go about a task.
Relationship crafting – changing aspects of your relationships at work by altering the nature or extent of interactions with others.
Perception crafting – altering how you perceive certain tasks, or the job as a whole, so you can connect what you’re doing to something personally meaningful.
For example, a project officer with little responsibility and no connection with the project clients, might offer to buddy a new staff member. This is an additional task that provides challenge and development, expands the scope of her personal interactions and enables her to perceive her role as supporting the learning and contribution of others.
The first step is to define your own personal motives, strengths and passions, then look for opportunities to modify aspects of your job to better align with these. The changes don’t have to be big, and can often be made subtly without anyone else even being aware. You’re still meeting the requirements of the job, but you’re also taking responsibility for crafting a role that increases your job satisfaction. People who have undertaken job crafting report being happier, more engaged, and less likely to leave their current job.
Need help crafting your job? Call or email me to discuss how career development coaching can help you increase your satisfaction at work.