Can You Teach Someone To Love Their Job?
Interview with Jessica Amortegui
Confucius advised: "Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life." Steve Jobs agreed counselling: "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." The truth is a meta-analysis of almost one hundred different studies of working adults in almost every conceivable profession finding that when our interests match our jobs we are generally more satisfied and happier with our lives.
But what does this mean practically for the seventy per cent of people — and the leaders who are responsible for them — struggling to feel engaged in their work?
"I waited years for my dreamjob.com to land so I could be ablaze with passion — mentally turned on and emotionally tuned in," explained Jessica Armortegui, senior director of learning and development at Logitech and 2016 University of Michigan Positive Business Project winner when I interviewed her recently. "But for one reason and another it just never seemed to happen, so fed up with waiting I decided to turn the job I had into a playground to explore my own interests and passions."
Researchers have found that while many of us have a fit mindset that leads us to believe we have to find the perfect job, a few of us like Jessica adopt a develop mindset that leads us to believe passion can be cultivated over time. And what the studies are finding is that it's possible to feel equally passionate, satisfied and successful in your job, whilst making a comparable income in either mindset.
Suggesting that if you can't be in the job you love, then it's worth trying to find a way to love the job you're in. But how can you help people cultivate a develop mindset?
"Researchers have found that it isn't just love that leads to labor, but labor that leads to love," explained Jessica. "Known as the IKEA effect it appears that you attach greater value to things that you've built because it boosts your feelings of passion, pride and competence. So at Logitech we decided to give our people an opportunity to engage in an exercise to actively architect their jobs, rather than being enslaved to their job descriptions."
"We did this through a ninety minute workshop on job crafting where people were encouraged to explore ways to align their strengths and interests to what they were doing each day at work," she said. "What we found is that by helping someone to make micro-changes in the way they were working, the mix of tasks they were doing and who they were spending time with, that we were able to have a mega impact on their levels of passion and engagement."
In order for job crafting to be effective however, Jessica cautioned that people must feel that are have a genuine sense of control over aspects of their work, or this feels like a fruitless exercise. To this end, she also found that job crafting was more successful when managers had meaningful conversations with their people about the ways they wanted to shape their work going forward.
So what are the keys to making job crafting effective?
Jessica believes that job crafting exercises build on three important ingredients:
Mastery — Making progress is what researchers have found motivates and engages people. This motivation is deeply rooted in a fundamental psychological need we all have to feel competent. Job crafting brings intention to this core motivational need by helping you look at the mix of tasks you're undertaking and where you're choosing to spend your time and energy.
Known as task crafting this can help you to identify what you're good at and how you can start honing these parts of your work. It also helps you to clarify the things you're not good at and that don't excite you and how you can find ways to minimize the time, effort, and energy you're putting into these parts of your job.
Meaning — While most of us think that meaningful work starts with the work, studies suggest it actually starts with who our work impacts. It turns out that when you know your work has a positive impact on others, not only do you find a whole lot more meaning in what you do, but you're also far more motivated. Job crafting encourages you to step back from your daily to-do list and see the larger canvas on which your strengths, values and passions can be placed when it comes to having a positive impact on others.
Known as relational crafting this can help you identify the interactions and connections that make your work meaningful, as well as those that make your work more challenging. It helps you to choose ways to invest in the relationships where you can make a positive difference, and to troubleshoot or limit contact in those undermine your sense of purpose.
Membership — Felling socially connected is one of your most basic survival needs. As a result researchers are finding that the more social you are the happier and more satisfied you feel. You make sense of your world through your relationships with others. Job crafting helps you to explore how your laundry list of job responsibilities fits into the larger goals of your organization so you feel that you're contributing to something larger.
Known as cognitive crafting this can help you re-frame the mundane or meaningless parts of your work, by broadening your perceptions about the impact of your job. For example one study found zookeepers — whose jobs mostly involve cleaning cages and feeding animals — often see their work as a moral duty to provide proper care for animals. The ability to map our work against the backdrop of a collective makes us acutely aware of how our work connects to others' goals and the importance of our collaboration with others.