My friend sent me a link to a video. She wrote, “Here is a good example of job crafting: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=462179807866796 ”
The link took me to a short CBS video clip about a school bus driver in Dallas. The driver’s name is Curtis Jenkins. The narrator begins by noting there are many reasons to not like the job of school bus driver. In the clip, the school principal indicates that Jenkins goes outside his job description and the kids on his bus become a family. He declares, “These are my children, my community.”
Curtis literally creates a community. There are rules about respect and caring. Each kid has a named responsibility in the functioning of the organized school bus. He gets to know and love each kid. Using his own money, he gives every kid a personalized gift. He, for example, gave a girl a tee shirt with a picture of a book she authored. He wanted to inspire her to never stop writing.
When the kids were asked what they liked about Curtis they said: “He cares;” “He is kind;” “He helps us.” A fifth grader spoke of the father who left him. He then said, “Curtis is the father I always wanted. I wish my father could have been like him.”
The clip ends with Curtis. He indicates that the meaning in his work is his real pay. The money he receives is an extra benefit.
The next morning I woke up thinking about the video. To craft is to shape or create. Most people see their job as something someone gives to them. There is often a job description or a set of assumed expectations that become the job boundaries. The holder of the job tends to conform, to operate within the boundaries. In many contexts, it is assumed that work is supposed to be joyless.
Job crafting suggests that the holder of a job can become proactive and actually shape the job so that it brings greater meaning. This can happen by crafting in increased achievement, increased structure, enriched relationships, or increased contribution to the common good.
People like Curtis are positive deviants. They are rare. Yet in the last 18 years I have been exposed to many people like Curtis. They work at all levels and in all kinds of jobs, from custodians to people at the top. They craft their own jobs and they rejoice in their labor. I am grateful for every example I witness–every person I meet like Curtis–who inspires me and creates in me a desire to craft my life and live in increasing joy.
- Have you ever met anyone like Curtis? How did you feel about the person?
- What would happen if the principal and the teachers imitated Curtis?
- How could you craft your own job?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?