I enjoy writing. I must do, or else I wouldn't spend my Saturday mornings writing posts like this.
I haven't always written, but I got into it when I headed up the Product & Operations side of a financial technology company, when we wanted to write some content that explained some of the financial concepts that our customers needed to know in order to improve their own financial situation.
Our marketing team didn't have the domain knowledge to write the posts, so I stepped forward, and I found that I enjoyed it.
I enjoyed being able to put down in words some potentially complex subjects in straightforward language, so that our customers could learn and help move their business forward.
From that point on, I volunteered to pick up the content writing tasks, despite being exceedingly busy running business operations, and this has given me the skills and confidence to write more, set up Getting Started in Product and blog on Medium.
In this talk, Amy Wrzesniewski talks about the research she and some colleagues did involving a University Hospital cleaning crew, where they spoke to two separate cleaning crews about their roles.
One crew explained the tasks they did in very job description-esque terms, whilst the others discussed their role in terms of their enjoyment and the skills they needed on a day-to-day basis. On investigation, both groups did the same work, however, the group who discussed the positives of the role turned out to offer more.
As they went about their role they took time to speak to patients, or to guide them through the hospital to their destination so that they didn't get lost, and in one case, a cleaner who worked on a coma ward discussed how she switched the paintings around in the rooms as she thought that the variety might aid recovery in some way.
When asked about this task that she undertook, she responded that "It's not part of my job, But that's part of me".
Job crafting is:
"What employees do to redesign their own jobs in ways that foster engagement at work, job satisfaction, resilience, and thriving
(Berg, Wrzesniewski, & Dutton, 2010)
If you're in a situation where you aren't fully satisfied with your job, but you can't just swap roles, then you have a couple of options.
You can simply carry on, undertaking the unfulfilling tasks, resenting work, and leading a life of dissatisfaction, or you can craft your role into something that does offer opportunity for daily engagement and enjoyment.
I did it by taking on writing tasks, which in turn fed my desire to help others improve their businesses. The hospital cleaner did it by taking steps to improve the chances of recovery for their patients.
How can you do it?
When we want to find new meaning in our role what we need to achieve is a new definition of our job that incorporates our motives, strengths, and passions, which means we have to ask ourselves:
From this we can get an idea of where we start crafting.
If you're a project manager who loves design, is there a way that you can bring design into your project plans, or how you write up requirements documents, or presentations to stakeholders?
If you're a designer who loves product management, is there a way that you can write up your designs in the form of user stories so that someone else doesn't have to?
If you're a software engineer who loves talking to people, is there a way that you can go out and meet some of your products customers and turn these conversations into product insight?
Another area you can look at is changing how you think about the purpose of certain parts of your job, or even reframing how you perceive your job as a whole.
We might think that roles such as "Product Evangelist" sound a little strange, but if what you love is sharing your passion for something with others, you are an evangelist rather than a Product Marketer or Product Consultant.
We can start to think of the outcomes that we want to achieve with our roles rather than the tasks that we complete.
A cleaner in a hospital could think they mop the floors and empty the bins, or they could focus on ensuring that the hospital is germ free in order to support patient recovery.
A traffic warden could think of themselves as ticketing illegal parkers, or they could focus on ensuring roads are safer and clear for emergency services, families and the disabled.
Once we focus on outcomes and not process, we can gain a lot more fulfilment from our role.