Leadership Blog Series: Bring Meaning and Joy to the Employee Experience Through Job Crafting

Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for HR Organization and Professional Development 

Leaders who understand their role in bringing out the best in their employees make a significant impact on the employee experience, with a positive employee experience now requiring increased effort to recruit, retain and engage. Employees have become less accepting of doing things that may not make sense to them (what is the purpose?), and they will leave organizations to find a better fit.

Job crafting is a practical way to influence the engagement of employees to respond to organizational change more positively, be happier and have greater meaning in all the roles they perform. In turn, the positive experience can enhance the level of innovation, care, service, and productivity for clients, students, and customers.

Think about the explosion in the “craft” economy: beer, distilled spirits, bespoke “fill-in-the-blank.” That tailored experience makes us feel good and allows us to feel greater control and empowerment over some aspects of our lives— especially important when we live in a world that is anything but predictable.

What is job crafting?

The concept of job crafting isn’t all that different from other aspects of the craft economy. Job crafting is an aspect of empowerment that helps employees tailor their work to what brings them joy, adds to their experience and enhances the organization. According to research conducted over the past twenty years, job crafting — in the forms of task, relationship, and cognitive crafting — may be a critical element of engagement and job satisfaction, particularly in today’s workplace.

Task crafting – Changing up responsibilities. Improving the steps, timing, or sequencing of the tasks that make up your job to improve it in some way.

Example: Palmer, a customer service specialist, thought there could be an easier way to get the necessary information from customers. They set up a simple power form to capture key information in a consistent manner. Now there is a simple tracking system with all the key information leading to better resolution with improved response time, enhancing both the employee and customer experience.

Relationship crafting – Changing up interactions. Building relationships around aspects that are important to you with people you would not normally work with.

Example: Jody, a project lead, sought out other employees who were interested in mentoring new employees. She was engaged with the idea and participated in the task force which helped her connect with others from across the organization.

Cognitive crafting – Changing your mindset. Reframing the work to see how the value of the work contributes positively to the organization, the people, or greater society.

Example: Parker, a custodian, understood that his job involved a lot of repetition and was not glamorous. However, if he did not do his job, students could become ill or injured, might feel down about the environment at school or believe they were unimportant to the leaders at their school. By maintaining a safe and pleasant environment, he adjusts his thinking to focus on his incredible influence on the health and well-being of the students — contributing toward their success and helping them to graduate.

The leader’s role in job crafting

As a leader, you can initiate and facilitate the job crafting concept, asking employees for their thoughts and ideas. Design jobs (and job descriptions) that leave room for crafting. Demonstrate an openness to feedback and new ideas. Often, we overlook the true nature of our work and the meaning and joy we can derive from it. A little encouragement from you — and modeling the way — may just make the difference.

Leaders are in a unique position to not only foster beneficial job crafting in their employees but to practice crafting in their own roles to potentially impact numerous employees. Making small changes to your own job can have larger impacts on your organization as well.

Find additional resources to get you started below and reach out to HR’s Organization and Professional Development department at prodev@hr.msu.edu if you’d like further ideas. After you’ve had a chance to introduce job crafting to your own position and team, I’d love to hear your feedback. Contact me directly at margrave@hr.msu.edu to let me know how job crafting is working for you.

Recommended Resources

Note: all names used above are pseudonyms.

Sources

Carucci, R., Shappell, J. (2020). How to job craft as a team. https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-to-job-craft-as-a-team?ab=at_art_art_1x1

Dutton, J.E., Wrzesniewski, A., (2020). What job crafting looks like. Harvard Business Review. March 12, 2020. https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-job-crafting-looks-like

Wrzesniewski, A., LoBuglio, N., Dutton, J., and Berg, J.M., (2013). Job crafting and cultivating positive meaning and identity in work. Advances in Positive Organizational Psychology, Volume 1, 281–302.

Leadership Blog Series: Team Essentials

Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for HR Organization and Professional Development

Before you had your first formal leadership role, did you believe you would “finally” have the power and authority to get things done the way you want them, when you want them? Or did you think, “What have I done?”

One of the most significant adjustments in leaning into leadership is that there are multiple ways to handle situations, and there are many variables with respect to authority, responsibility and empowerment. Cohesive teams communicate and build trust and one of the most critical teams is the relationship you have with other leaders in your unit.

Your Role in the Team

The truth of the matter is that we all play different team roles across our careers and in every position. Consider this: what have you done to make a new leader (especially new to MSU) welcome and valued, especially when that leader is also a peer? How we participate and engage with others can change depending on the circumstances and our own beliefs about our roles and the influence we carry, but trust me, everyone is watching what you do and say to make your team and colleagues successful.

Leadership expert, John Maxwell, shares that leaders lead up, across, and down in a complex system of teams. Can you picture a leader who leads only through power? A leader who made it very difficult for a new colleague, or minimally, less than helpful? Likewise, you can likely picture an effective leader that does not have positional authority yet is very effective.

Regardless of position, title, or role, everyone has leadership capabilities that can be developed, practiced and honed when they consider leveraging the skills and talents of the team. Helping others see the importance of their roles and contributions will help maximize effectiveness, results and enjoyment for the whole team.

Define Your Strengths and Areas for Growth

Remember, it takes patience and practice to develop. How would you rate yourself on the following questions adapted from HIGH5 leadership?

  1. I take responsibility for the teams I’m on and don’t play the blame game.
  2. I listen more than I talk in team meetings.
  3. I don’t interrupt others or talk over them. I add to the conversation, acknowledging and building on   others’ contributions.
  4. I am reliable and consistent, and my work is on time and of good quality.
  5. I help others if they are struggling.
  6. I can focus on positive solutions rather than making others feel wrong.
  7. I have a connection with the people on the team, knowing about their lives and what is important to them.
  8. I bring enthusiasm and energy to the team rather than bringing people down.
  9. I have worked hard to build trust between me, all my teams, and my organization in general.
  10. I can apologize to my team.

Another helpful resource is the free Team Roles test from Psychology Today. Take this 20-minute assessment to help you summarize your strengths in being a team player. As it’s not geared specifically to leaders, the quiz covers a wide range of team-based situations to share with your staff.

Organization and Professional Development Resources

A number of options—everything from short videos to live, online courses—are available through OPD to assist you in developing as a leader. Looking for further assistance? Contact OPD at prodev@hr.msu.edu for additional course information and customized solutions for you and your team.

Sources

Maxwell, John. The 360° Leader. Summary and excerpt available at https://edadm821.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/360_leader.pdf

https://www.high5leadership.com/are-you-a-good-team-player/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/tests/career/team-roles-test

Start the New Academic Year with a Professional Development Course!

Welcome to a new academic year at MSU! Organization and Professional Development (OPD) is offering new courses this fall to help you reach your personal and professional development goals.

NEW Upcoming Courses:

Managing Meetings – Tuesday, October 15
With company resources tighter than ever, and staff and management busier than ever, frivolous meetings are simply not an option. Yet they continue to occur more often than ever. And too many unproductive, wasteful meetings create a major drag on staff morale and motivation, thus affecting productivity, turnover, and the corporate “bottom line”. And, if you are the organizer or leader of meetings, you simply cannot afford to look unprofessional when you are “on stage” in a competitive or political environment. Use this program to better plan, lead, and follow through on your meetings and enhance team productivity, coordination, and cohesion.

Communication Strategies for Supervisors – Thursday, October 24
One of the non-negotiables for successful leadership is being an effective communicator. Many leaders believe they do communicate effectively, but what most leaders do not understand about communicating with their team is that it is not just about what is said. To lead successfully today, leaders must be able to persuade, inspire, listen, articulate the big picture, and create teams of people who buy into and trust the sender.

Manager as Coach – Thursday, October 24
Successful managers today understand the importance of coaching in the workplace to improve productivity, loyalty, and results. Instead of telling team members what to do, or just expecting them to perform, it is important to guide, discuss and encourage – in other words, coach.

Presentation Skills 101 – Wednesday, November 20
You may have a great deal of knowledge or important information to share, but if your presentation is not engaging, you may lose your audience and opportunity for influence. Whether you’re a training professional, an executive, a manager who leads meetings, or anyone who needs to communicate clearly to more than one person at a time, this workshop will show you strategies to create and deliver effective presentations with confidence and enthusiasm.

Support staff should note that their Educational Assistance benefit resets with the fall semester – be sure to use these funds to help cover costs for any registration fees.

You can find all current OPD courses on the HR website. Sign-up through the EBS Portal. Questions? Contact HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.