Yale School of Management

Crafting a Better Work Experience

July 22, 2015

During summer class weekends, EMBA students have the opportunity to participate in career development workshops. This is one of the many ways the program helps executive students develop skills that can be immediately applied the next day at work. The workshops put students face-to-face with the people who conduct and analyze the research that is published in career management books.

Professor Amy Wrzesniewski leads the job-crafting exercise.

During one session, Professor Amy Wrzesniewski led our class through a job-crafting exercise. Her fascinating research on how people find meaning in their work and tailor their job tasks in ways that make them more effective and their jobs more enjoyable has been widely published. The job-crafting process helps you first identify the way you currently approach your work—what tasks take the most time and energy in your day? Taking time to reflect on this can reveal surprises, as well as a range of emotions (from frustration to confusion to satisfaction) depending on how content you are with your current job structure. For example, I’m a registered nurse and frequently work in different units in the hospital. I listed “look for supplies” in the category of tasks that require “Medium Time and Energy”—probably not the best use of my time.

In the second phase you create a new job diagram adding your values, strengths, and passions and revising the size of your daily tasks to reflect how much energy you would prefer to spend on them and how well they align with your personal goals. In addition to naming each task, the exercise asks you to consider how you can incorporate your personal priorities and develop relationships while completing each job task. In my revised diagram, the simple task to “assess and treat patient symptoms” became an opportunity to develop trusting relationships with my patients, utilize my strong communication skills, enhance my passion for learning, and lead me toward my goal of finding personal satisfaction in my job. Modifying the focus changed the urgent task of delivering a patient their pain medication into an important component of the significant meaning I find in my work.

The final important stage of the process involves writing out an action plan for implementing your new and improved job diagram. Professor Wrzesniewski encouraged us to work with supervisors and colleagues to implement our action plans, but also reminded us that part of the beauty of job crafting is that it’s about maximizing your personal goals while completing your daily tasks. Crafting your tasks, relationships, and your mindset as you approach your job are all within your control—you can make your job more meaningful today.

Watch a video of Professor Amy Wrzesniewski talking about her research.

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About the author

Jessie Nymeyer

MBA for Executives, 2016