It’s Time For Some Cognitive Crafting

Do you need to change the way you think about your work?

Cognitive crafting is when we change the way we perceive the tasks and relationships that comprise our jobs (e.g., “a ticket salesperson seeing the job as an essential part of providing people with entertainment, not just processing orders”) (Berg, Dutton, & Wrzesniewski, 2013, p. 82).

But job crafting can feed into well-being.

Job crafting is the process of employees redefining and re-imagining their job designs in personally meaningful ways.

For example, a history teacher who has had a longtime passion for performing music could incorporate music into his curriculum (task crafting), collaborate with the music teacher in his school (relational crafting), and draw parallels between the act of teaching in front of a classroom and the experience of performing music (cognitive crafting). By crafting his job in these ways, this teacher is able to incorporate musical performance and the experience of being a musician – which are valued parts of his identity – into his life at work, thus bringing new meaningfulness into his work (Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010).

Job crafting (and there are different types) could very well be the way to manage the unhappiness you feel in your job because it allows you to change your perspective and redefine your outlook.

This is the trick to getting more out of what you do because you can redesign your work so as to foster engagement and  satisfaction in order to build resilience and thrive. People who see their work as meaningful enjoy more job satisfaction because they alter what they do and bend things so they work in their favour.

It’s also the mindset of mission. Christopher Wren visited the site of St Paul’s Cathedral and asked three bricklayers there what it was they were doing:

The first replied: “Laying bricks,”

The second said: “Making a living,”

But the third bricklayer approached things from a different angle and said he was helping to build a cathedral and that one day people would come to pray to God in the place he had helped to build.

Having an internal locus of control is important in teaching because the workload weighs heavy and and can spiral. Many teachers, quite understandably lose focus and become bitter.

But this is where job crafting comes into play and teaching is a job that allows plenty of opportunities for work framing, to shape, mould, redesign and re-imagine what we do.

We have to take back control and make the job work for us even if things appear to be stacked against us. This is about addressing the burdens, looking for the boosts and making the most of our gifts.

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