The best advice from any career coach or mentor would be to bank on your strengths to ensure continued career growth. But how many of us get to the point of truly identifying those strengths and using them to our advantage?
While most of would like to believe that we do, a research by MIT scholars says that in the pursuit of happiness, excellence and success, we actually lose it all. We keep hopping jobs hoping to find the perfect one, but end up hurting our career at some point. If Ted Geisel had quit his job thinking that he was stuck in the wrong job writing books for 6-year-olds, Dr. Seuss would never have existed. Instead of fretting over an unsuitable job, Geisel banked on his strengths to craft it to his liking.
Psychologists Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane E. Dutton describe in their paper on job crafting that “your job comprises a set of building blocks that you can reconfigure to create more engaging and fulfilling experiences at work”. In order to do that, all you need is to focus on three steps to help you craft the job you want instead of hunting for it.
Step 1: What are your tasks
Progress, according to experts, motivates people the most. This motivation comes from the psychological need to feel competent and serves as an active ingredient of job crafting. Start with the tasks entrusted to you. Find out the ones that excite you and the ones that don’t. Talk to your boss about these and plan them such that the ones that fit into your competency and motivational zone are assigned to you and the rest are perhaps better assigned to someone else.
Step 2: Which relationships matter the most
Wharton Professor Adam Grant’s study indicates that the relationships at work truly start when we realize who is the beneficiary of our work. These relationships can be the source of our greatest joys or our greatest sorrows. As a result, to successfully craft the job you want from the one you have, you need to start paying attention to these relationships at the workplace and spend more time with the people who receive the maximum impact of your work, and less with those who don’t.
Step 3: What matters to ‘you’ the most
Evaluate your own perception about your work. Introspection is not as easy as it seems. Do you feel isolated at the workplace by your work or your title? While organizations and experts emphasize on the need to collaborate, studies indicate that we are increasingly becoming isolated at the workplace. This study’s importance lies in the fact that job crafting requires you to develop an awareness of your surroundings - how your goals tie into the goals of the people around you. When you become aware of the practical benefits of this innate connection, you will be in a better position to introspect and evaluate your own perception about your work as a part of a larger objective.
Workforce engagement is at an all-time low of 13%. As a result, those of us who feel disengaged at the workplace might just need to fall back to crafting the job we want instead of looking for one that fits the description. It’s a fact of life - we don’t always get what we want. But when we stop chasing and start crafting, we might just end up building something close to what we wanted. It may be imperfect, but when you build something, it’s always easier to fall in love with it than something that just landed in front of you.