Work: Beyond Tasks to Relational and Cognitive Crafting

By David Williamson.

This is the fourth of a series.

A worker today is somewhat limited by the realities of the job market. A chapter on “Job Crafting” in Dik and Duffey’s Make Your Job A Calling helps the reader craft any job so it is more of an experience or expression of calling:

Job crafting identifies those things that workers do to elicit a stronger sense of purpose, meaning, engagement resilience and thriving from their jobs. In crafting their work, employees might change their work tasks, branch out into alternative work activities, build stronger relationships with coworkers, supervisors and customers and re imagine the very purpose of what they do all day. Workers across a variety of occupations…who implement job crafting strategies, become more engaged, satisfied and productive at work.

“Can job crafting can transform one’s work into a calling?” they ask, and give the answer: probably yes.

Three crafting strategies are suggested. Task Crafting is altering or redesigning he work itself to better fit the responsibilities in the job better align with the unique features of the workers skills, gifts and personality.

Relational Crafting focuses on the social environment, seeking to improve and expand the worker’s relationships at work. “Establishing stronger, more positive connections with others around you at work will generate a greater degree of meaning and on-the -job happiness.” Relational Crafting may involve the immediate supervisor as well as the worker. This might enhance the supervisor’s experience as well, ultimately leading to the supervisor’s enhanced work satisfaction and enjoyment! “Relational crating entails both altering the nature or quality of one’s relationships and creating new ones.” This could result in a big return with minimal investment. “Improving the interpersonal climate of the workplace is one important outcomes of relational crafting.”

Cognitive Crafting involves redefining one’s perception of the kinds of tasks or relationships involved in one’s job. This is a change in the way one thinks about the job, or an attitude adjustment, in which a worker adopts new and improved ways of thinking about the job’s nature, purpose and impact. This may not lead to a formal change in the job responsibilities and tasks, but to looking at them from a very different perspective, especially a perspective that upgrades its perceived value. The authors provide several vignettes that illustrate this process.

Dik and Duffey provide some very useable and straightforward steps for crafting one’s job.

1. Align Job Tasks for which you are responsible. This is not a pie-in-the-sky venture, but a process for ordinary workers in their present work situations. A worker’s ability to align job tasks may be limited, but whatever opportunity is available should be pursued.

2. Identify and outline your gifts.

3. Integrate tasks and gifts.

Each of these three steps seem to require intra- and inter-personal experience or sophistication. This may suggest the value of having done the steps independently, with guidance as to how to do the integration. The steps take some time and creative thinking, and might be enhanced by having a coach or guide in this work, especially in understanding each item and brainstorming about integration and realistic reflection and application. This leads to having a vision of what that integration might look like, and guidance as to realistic application and follow-through.

The authors suggest that this process is a lot like marriage. Like marriage, it is not primarily about picking the right job/career/work, but about working “really hard to build, and maintain the practices the led in a helpful direction that builds and maintains well being.”

This can become an ongoing process throughout the lifespan of the worker – including how the worker approaches “retirement,” guiding a meaningful investment of time and energy after paid work. The authors conclude the chapter on Job Crafting by pointing out that the tasks and skills involved can themselves be a way of keeping our passion alive; at the time of retirement, this is every bit as critical as when discerning one’s calling originally.

I think this is a very important and useable process wherever a worker is on their work journey. It may take more effort and sophistication and time then some are willing to invest, but it is a good lifetime process.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: