Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Beating Drudgery at Work (Part II)
I often hear people complain that their jobs don't challenge them, or that they are just putting in their time at a lousy company until they can discover their true calling in life. I sympathize with those folks, because I have been there. But -- and I hope people won't take offense at this -- I also wonder if we sometimes use drudgery as a crutch to excuse ourselves from exercising our callings.
Of course, some jobs just don't fit us particularly well. But are you perhaps taking too static a view of your job? Granted, you probably have a list of formal job descriptions that aren't negotiable, but unless you are on a factory floor (and sometimes even then), you may have a lot more discretion than you recognize to shape what you do and how you do it.
Let me introduce three brilliant and wonderful colleagues (some of my favorite people!) who have made a huge splash with a new tool: "Job Crafting." Justin Berg (Wharton), Jane Dutton (U. of Michigan), and Amy Wrzesniewski (Yale) have developed an exercise that has been highlighted in Time Magazine, Business Week, and other major media outlets. It's a fascinating and fun activity that helps you, in about an hour's time, to create visual representations of your work and identify ways that you can reshape your job to better fit your gifts and interests. To quote the Job Crafting website, the exercise "encourages you to view your job in a new way — as a flexible set of building blocks rather than a fixed list of duties."
I love that perspective! If you feel alienated by your job, or mired in drudgery, you don't have to postpone finding your calling. Start building your gifts into your work now.
I heartily endorse the Job Crafting exercise. Check it out here! There's a great video that explains how it works, and there is a free version for students.