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Posted 20 Feb 2024

Four Tips For Job Crafting: A Tool For NeuroInclusion

Job Crafting is a phrase used to describe the activities of employees who naturally adapt their role to suit their skills. Job crafting tends to evolve over time, as they get assigned more work of the type they have mastered and begin exchanging tasks with co-workers to best fit each others’ style. Job crafting can be transactional, based on a to do list, but also relational, in terms of our feelings and values around our role.

Job crafting tends to emerge naturally in teams with high levels of psychological safety, team autonomy and management flexibility and trust. Job crafters are typically proactive, engaged employees who are motivated to succeed and have a good sense of self-awareness. Professors Wrzesniewski and Dutton’s research in this area has found that job crafting can occur in most roles from hospital porters and cleaners to executives and knowledge workers. Can we capitalize on this concept to support employees with neurodivergent profiles?

Tip One – Safety

Successful job crafters and their teams have psychological safety. This means that they feel safe to raise concerns, admit mistakes and be clear about their struggles. Unmasking is essential, so people need to know they won’t be penalized for admitting a weakness. “Oh I’m really struggling with the data in this report. Can you check it for me and in return I’ll design those slides for you?” Conducive to this are HR practices that allow people to be specialists, not generalists, for example annual appraisals that aren’t overly rigid on precise competencies and allow for overall contribution to be personalized.

Tip Two – Know Thyself

Knowledge of which areas of your work come naturally and which are likely to be challenging is also essential. Some of us find it immodest to talk ourselves up in terms of strengths, but we are likely to know what we find easy and what we find hard. A complementary skills workshop with your team, thinking about all the joint tasks and goals, and asking people to rate themselves according to easy / hard rather than good / bad is likely to generate more honest self-appraisal. Feedback from co-workers that a member of staff is brilliant at building rapport with difficult customers or is the best in the team at remembering ethical boundaries boosts confidence.

Tip Three – Team Discussion

Once you have a good overview of the team, it becomes clear how the tasks should be allocated, and where everyone has to muck in. If you find you have a clear skills gap, you can buffer this with training, recruitment or technology. It could be a huge relief to have this as a team discussion rather than the manager having to hold all the knowledge of who can do what. It will help the team feel that differences in goals are fair and transparent.

Tip Four – Revisit And Revise

The whole point of job crafting is that it isn’t static, jobs and personal resources ebb and flow. Making a job crafting session part of your regular meeting agenda allows people to grow and develop new skills, providing opportunity for learning and development. It takes account of interpersonal differences in resources such personal changes, ambitions for promotion etc. It provides a forum for such changes to be discussed frankly, with reference to the tasks at hand.

Neurodivergent people are more likely to have large differences between their strengths and challenges. By deploying a job crafting approach to team management, you can be neuro-inclusive without depending on accommodations which can tempt us to try and make everyone be perfect all-rounders. It allows to be our unique, authentic selves without compromising team performance.