Monday, February 14, 2011

Crafting the Job

Most people would like to have a ‘calling’ relationship with their work. However, they may be in occupations where they feel their callings are unanswered. However, it’s not the occupation, but the individual doing the work who defines the work orientation and makes meaning of the work. The same work may be viewed differently by different individuals.

People can realize a calling orientation by job crafting. Job crafting is defined as the physical and cognitive changes individuals make in the task or relational boundaries of their work. Individuals can redesign (craft) their work in ways that can enhance satisfaction, engagement, resilience and flourishing. This allows people to permeate their work with a personal and social meaning and allows one to view that through their work they are making a bigger contribution to the world.

Individuals can pursue unanswered callings by employing five different techniques to craft their jobs (task emphasizing, job expanding, and role reframing) and their leisure time (vicarious experiencing and hobby participating).

A. Job crafting

Task emphasizing: Involves accentuating tasks that are already formally a part of one’s job to pursue an unanswered calling.

This can be done either by (i) allocating additional time, energy or attention to an assigned task which relates to an unanswered calling or by (ii) changing the nature of an assigned task to incorporate aspects of an unanswered calling.

For example a manager who thinks that sharing knowledge or teaching is his calling can allocate more time for sharing knowledge with less experienced colleagues in a structured way.

Job expanding: Involves adding tasks to incorporate aspects of an unanswered calling.

This can be done either by (i) taking on short-term, temporary tasks or by (ii) adding new tasks to a job, which relate to the individual’s calling.

For example, an employee with a strong penchant for a foreign language can offer to be an interpreter when business visitors come or can join the team framing a business document in that language.

Role reframing: Involves modifying one’s perception of the meaning of his or her work to match an unanswered calling.

For example a cook with a creative inclination may perceive his work as an artistic expression rather than just the preparation of food.

B. Leisure crafting

Vicarious experiencing: Involves seeking fulfillment and meaningful experiences through participation of family (or friends and even celebrities) in an unanswered calling.

For example, a mother who perceives music as her calling but is involved in a catering job may gain fulfillment by helping her daughter to learn to play the piano and attending her concerts.

Hobby participating: Involves pursuing leisure and volunteer activities that individuals perceive as related to an unanswered calling.

For example, a salesperson who has a fondness for teaching and social issues may participate as a volunteer in community education programs like children literacy classes.


Berg JM, Grant AM, JohnsonV. When Callings Are Calling: Crafting Work and Leisure in Pursuit of Unanswered Occupational Callings. Organization Science. 2010; 21: 973-994. [PDF]


VSB said...

The concept of 'job crafting' is very appealing. Many might be motivated to craft something more meaningful out of their profesional engagements, however, not all professions and working environments allow this kind of flexi-dimnesional outlook and seldom leave one with the required time for leisure crafting. This is not to sat that I am dismissing the the revolutionary potential of the thought. For many this could spell a new beginning in more ways than one.

elisa freschi said...

Role reframing seems to me a very good idea and one which is probably very useful in one's path to happiness. I doubt that there are that many working environments which do not allow it at all. The only problem is that this attitude might teach also young people not to be ambitious and not to at least try to follow their calling.

Vicarious experiencing seems on the contrary dangerous, most of all when it includes younger family members, who might feel the pressure on them of the unfulfilled mother/father/…

VS said...

@VSB: It is worth noting that its not the job mainly but the person doing it who shapes its perception.

VS said...

Elisa, I think when somebody pursues a calling, it is for the work itself. Since the person could immerse himself in his calling he could get better results than somebody motivated by ambition.

VSB said...

The person is not alone in crafting a perception about a job. It is an inter-dependent process often very structured allowing for little creative manouevering. And yes there are working environments which allow as little latitude as possible in this regard.