“Reinventing the wheel is sometimes the right thing, when the result is the radial tire.”
– Jonathan Gilbert
What if you’re unhappy in your job and can’t leave? In my work with individuals in career transition there are instances when as much as they would like to change jobs, leaving is not an option. Financial responsibilities may necessitate staying put as might the lack of opportunities in a particular industry.
Although changing careers isn’t always an option, reinventing your job is. The first step in this reinvention process is to identify the aspects of your work that you enjoy and find meaningful. In a recent NY Times article written by Shane Lopez , a leading researcher on hope, and author of Making Hope Happen he says, “By studying people who love their work, I came to realize that almost none initially landed the jobs they loved; rather, they landed ordinary jobs and turned them into extraordinary ones.” These employees found ways to recraft their jobs by utilizing the small amount of control they had to shape how they prioritized their time; allocating more energy, and attention to tasks they found meaningful.
Through what she calls job crafting, Amy Wrzesniewski, professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, says people can reshape and redefine their jobs. In a paper she co-wrote, she says you can use your knowledge of what you do best to choose “to do fewer, more, or different tasks than prescribed in the formal job.” In a study of hospital orderlies, Wrzesniewski and her colleagues discovered that they drew satisfaction delivering meals and making beds because they found significance and belonging in their interaction with patients.
A marketing manager with an interest in technology might add to his or her job, the use of social media to promote their product or service. This addition would bring the benefit of new, marketable skills and allow the manager to more easily track how their efforts were influencing the company’s brand. This is an example of the type of change that can be brought about that is likely to result in greater fulfillment and engagement.
Job reinvention can involve adding tasks or emphasizing existing ones, re-engineering assignments, reframing existing relationships or building new ones.
How can you shape your job in a way that is meaningful to you and beneficial to your organization?
Exercise: Answer one or more of the following questions.
- What skills am I interested in learning that would benefit me as well as add value to my organization?
- What am I good at, and what do I enjoy in my current job that I can spend more time on?
- What do I find meaningful in my current job and how can I emphasize it more?
- Who can I help and support in their role to encourage trust and synergy?
- Who can I foster a relationship with that will encourage my sense of worth?
Pick one of the above. For one week reallocate some of your time and energy by focusing on effecting one of the above. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference in how you perceive your situation.