How to Craft Your Job and Chart Your Future
By 2020, nearly 40 percent of the American workforce will be freelancers or contract employees for at least part of their work. Companies, of course, are driving some of this because they want more flexibility and because it may be cheaper. Whatever is causing the change – whether it’s the bottom line or a cultural shift as more employees demand flexibility – the end result is that you need to be prepared to take control of designing your job and career.
Job crafting – the act of “redefining your job to incorporate your motives, strengths, and passions” – is gaining attention as both workers and companies see high turnover related to low employee engagement. Whether you are a freelancer or a traditional employee, it’s time to think about how your job could be redesigned so you can be happier and more productive. Here are four tips to get started:
- Talk to and work with your team
Take a moment to write down your tasks and see how you can focus on those you are best at or enjoy the most. Talk with your colleagues to find ways you can trade tasks to better engage each other’s interests and skills. It’s also good to have a negotiation strategy if a colleague is skeptical about job crafting. Find an article that talks about job crafting and share it; an external source gives the idea credibility. Position a discussion about job crafting as a negotiation.
- Think about the times you forgot to eat lunch
Don’t know what you’re good at or confused about what you enjoy the most? Think about the task that was so interesting it made you forget about lunch. Those are the things we’re likely the best at.
- Learn to proactively manage your career and plan for the future
Job crafting can be expanded into how we manage our careers. Freelancers and contract employees know that they always have to be prepared to find the next gig and even traditional employees are taking on a more proactive role in their own professional development. But this is hard when many jobs of the future have yet to be invented. Would you have guessed that unmanned aircraft operations (drones) might trigger 100,000 new U.S. jobs and more than $82 billion in economic outcomes in the first decade of their commercial use? Do any of the expected 1.5 million “data savvy manager” jobs interest you? Also, consider whether there are tools (software or hardware) that would help you be more efficient in your job. Even in well-run organizations, the people doing the work may have better insights than formal managers or the HR department.
- Get and act on feedback from the work you’re already doing
Seeing the direct results of your work is one of the most motivating and effective strategies for improving your work and crafting your ideal job. Research shows that feedback from the task, as you do it, is far better than feedback from someone else. For example, artists get to see their masterpieces come to life, software developers get to see if their code successfully runs, and physical trainers can see improvement in their client’s performance. As more of our work and lives are quantifiable, (e.g., I track how many people read my blog, how many steps I take, and, on some days, how many emails I’ve sent) we have more opportunities to get feedback on our activities and then adjust based on those results. Figuring out how we can learn from this data is one of the most interesting things I’m studying right now.
Are you working on crafting your ideal job? Share your story.