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Putting Talents To Work. Job Crafting In Real Life.

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree October 11, 2018

A staggering 67% of employees don’t use their talents in day-to-day activities. (See our previous post.) What a waste of talent! And job satisfaction!

The first fix? Map the talents you have on board. The second? Ask how can you put them to use. The third? Ensure people are working on the things they do best.

In this post, we share an approach used with success by some workplace pioneers.

Job Crafting

If you don’t like your current job, there are other possibilities. You can quit, find something new, or simply suck it up and continue suffering.

Then, there’s an alternative called job crafting. In the literature, it’s defined as “self-initiated change behavior that employees engage in with the aim to align their jobs with their preferences, motives, and passions” (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001).

Simply put, job crafting is turning your current job into one you enjoy more. And it’s not just good for fun. Research shows job crafting increases engagement and job satisfaction, and decreases burnout.
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Simply put, job crafting is turning your current job into one you enjoy more. And it’s not just good for fun. Research shows job crafting increases engagement and job satisfaction, and decreases burnout.

Redistributing tasks

Job crafting involves shifting your tasks, relationships and/or perspectives. Here we share a practice that enables these shifts. It aligns tasks with the talents of team members. It goes like this...

1. Create an activity list

The first step is to make a list of all tasks the team needs to do. This will be different for each team. Clearly, the best approach is to do it with your team. Capture all the tasks on post-it notes and display them.

2. Cluster the activities into roles

The second step is clustering. As a team, highlight activities that are similar or that relate to each other. For example: posting on social media, sending out newsletters, and posting new blog posts are related. Clustering similar tasks suggests roles. The group of activities mentioned above might become the “marketing role”. Another might be a financial one—that includes budgeting and invoicing tasks.

Check for example the different team roles that self-managing teams at Buurtzorg are using.

3. Choose your role

The third step is to let team members select the roles that appeal to them most. Don’t consult job descriptions. Don’t let the manager appoint people to roles. Ensure choices are based on intrinsic motivation.

In this step it helps to have a good understanding of each other’s talents. If you don’t have this yet, check out this blog post first. It shows how to map your talents and strengths.

4. Rotate unpopular roles

What to do with roles nobody wants to choose? Here’s a solution we like a lot: stop performing those roles!

If you do, one of two things can happen. The first is you run into trouble. This proves you need the role. So, look for alternatives. Make it a priority for your next hire—select someone who would love that role. Or outsource it. Or find someone in another team who would like it. In short, be creative. There’s almost always somebody who wants to do it—especially if you offer something they value in return.

The second possibility is nothing happens. Team performance remains unchanged, or even improves. Perfect! Now your team is not performing an unpopular role, but is still performing well. Surprisingly, we’ve talked to teams where this has happened!

Try and fail, but don't fail to try

The above practice is powerful. Do it with your team. Create a focus on talents. Redistribute tasks so that people do what they love to do.

Putting your talents to work: (1) Create an activity list, (2) Cluster activities into roles, (3) Choose your role, (4) Rotate unpopular roles.
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And if you do, share your experience in the comment box below. Or share them with our online Corporate Rebels Slack community.

Written by Pim de Morree
Pim de Morree
As co-founder of Corporate Rebels I focus on: researching, writing, speaking, and building our company.
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