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Job Crafting – with Angela Wilson

Job Crafting – with Angela Wilson

This episode I welcome back Angela Wilson to talk about job crafting – what it is, what it isn’t, and the steps to follow to ensure your job actually brings you some joy this year!

Job crafting is all about tailoring your day-to-day experiences to bring forward your interests, passions, and whole self into your daily work (but still within the constraints of your role!). Angela steps us through how to do this effectively, while ensuring you aren’t adding more to your already overflowing plate.

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Show Notes

You can find the last two episodes with Angela here:

Angela Wilson can be found at her website Career Design Studio, as well as LinkedIn, and the other social media platforms.



Emily: Hello everybody. Welcome to 2023. This is the first episode of our whole new year. I hope you had a really great break away from the classroom and that you’ve come back in or are coming back in with a little bit of excitement, a bit of energy this year. Touch wood. Fingers crossed we’re going to be a little bit more calm with regards to the pandemic.

We’ll see. For the very first episode this year, I wanted to bring back Angela Wilson, who is behind Career Design Studio. OG listeners may remember. We had a double episode last year where Angela talked about what to do if you were thinking that perhaps you wanted to step away from teaching and how to figure out if you do actually need to step away and if you do want to step away, what other options are there for you?

Today we are taking a dive into, I guess, the opposite end of that spectrum. What about if you still love teaching and still love the job and you wanna stay here and keep doing this, but you just wanna change things up a little bit? So we are taking a dive into the concept of job crafting. So Angela’s going to give us a run through of what is job crafting, what are the right ways to do it, what are the steps to follow?

So I really hope you get a lot out of this episode and can bring some of this forward into your job for the new year so we can bring a bit more joy.

So let’s jump right in.

Good morning Angela. Welcome back to the show for a third time. How are you today,

Angela: Very well. Thank you, Emily, for having me again. It’s always great to be back here.

Emily: Excellent. So the story from the staff room today is all about job crafting, so I guess we could start off with, how would you define job crafting?

What’s the point of it?

Angela: Job Crafting is something that I came across maybe only last year, and my business is called Career Design Studio and Job Crafting explained what I do in my business. That some people come to me and they really love what they do and they are reasonably happy and they just wanna make changes.

And we talk about redesigning what you currently do at work. So job crafting is about that. That you get to craft what you see and feel and want in your job. That’s a nice sort of succinct way to explain it. And that’s what I like doing with people just being curious and coming up with different ideas and brainstorming within that safe space and then trying some things on as well and going Yeah, does that fit?

And having conversations with people about it. So there’s a, a few different elements to it that I’d love to, to go into about. Yeah, how? How can you do that? So job crafting is about redesigning the work that you currently do. So some people don’t want to quit or what, they don’t want to leave. They just wanna see, well, what can I do with what I have and make it even better?

Emily: To make it a bit more enjoyable or,

Angela: Yes, for sure.

Emily: And do you find some people might think that it’s impossible to craft your job because you’re working to a job description or like a, a role description? So I think in teaching a bit, you know, we have so many things that we have to do. How can I possibly change that to make it something that I want to?

Angela: and we often go into teaching with, let’s say, I want to learn as much as I can and, and I want to, gain as much experience and move through. And then you usually hit a point where you start going, yeah. , do I have to do this? And does that still bring me enjoyment? I can remember the, that sort of beginner’s mind when you’re first in teaching and you’re going through in Melbourne, we did a graduate program, so you got four years with mentors and all this learning, and then when you are.

Not so much out on your own, but you’re sort of stepping out there going, okay, I’m feeling Yeah. Quite solid with my teaching. And then maybe learning or growth might not be as,

Emily: sort of not the the forefront of what you’re

Angela: yeah. You just, you just, it’s like a routine and structure and you sort of fall into habits and that. With job crafting it can be about coming back to that beginner’s mind and, and, and going, yeah, what is it? Now that I know what I can do and I can do things really quickly, and this is really good and I’ve set this up, but what do I want to do? And most people don’t spend time actually thinking about what they want and how much room and movement there is within their job.

So yes, teaching is very defined in some areas and. Making sure that you are looking into, yeah, what is it that I want and how much room for movement. Have I even had a conversation with my principal or, yeah, just making sure that you, you’re not stuck in that I have to do this and there’s no room for movement.

Let’s actually look at it with curious size and explore what can I do, what do I want to do? And. Move into more of, yeah. What, what is it that you would like to be able to bring in to bring in engagement and feeling of success and liven things up a bit so that you’re not just going and Yeah. The, the Groundhog day.


Emily: or. And when you say bring in engagement, you mean that engagement for yourself as the teacher, not engagement for the students.

Angela: That’s right. For the, as the teacher. Yes, yes, for sure. We often forget about that, that, yeah. Are you really enjoying the way that you’re teaching? And to mix it up a little bit can sometimes bring life back to the reason why you stepped into teaching and, and really enhance that. Yes, I’m here for this reason, and I can do even more by just making a few tweaks that don’t drain my energy, they actually give me more energy.

Emily: So making these tweaks doesn’t have to look like taking on more or adding more to your plate necessarily. It’s more about sort of twisting and adjusting what’s already there.

Angela: Yes. Yes. Cuz a lot of people think that. Yeah, if I’m job crafting, yes, I’m putting more on my plate, it’s more about, well, what do I already have on my plate and rearranging things and maybe taking something off that frees up a whole lot.

Emily: So maybe we could give some examples of what job crafting might look like within teaching. Like I know in a previous episode we talked about one of my old colleagues really loves social media and in particular Twitter, so she wanted to bring that into her senior, um, I think it was senior English classes, but obviously you can’t get all the kids onto Twitter and, you know, start having Twitter conversations.

But the way she sort of brought that in for herself was to get the students to write like an exit ticket, as a tweet of something that they found interesting that day or something that they, they learned or question that they have, but they had to craft it like it was a tweet and they had to put in hashtags and she would collect them at the end of the lesson.

and that was her way of sort of gauging how the lesson went, what they knew, all that sort of stuff. But because she had done it in the way that it was like a tweet that brought a lot of enjoyment to her. So is that something that you would class as like job crafting, even though it’s such a small little

Angela: Yes. And I remember that conversation and I used the example of, uh, a colleague of mine that was really into health and nutrition, and she would. Thought in the newsletter about, maybe it was a recipe or something really interesting that for one thing changed the whole feel of the newsletter and it was something, a passion of hers and she got to tap into that.

And you could hear. When she would talk about the topic that might, she might be writing about. When you read it, it just, you could tell that that was something that really interested her, that she liked spending an extra half an hour during her day to, to type up and, and research. When I sort of think about bringing your whole self to work, that’s how she was able to do that through a small article in the newsletter that was related to something that she was really passionate about.

So, yeah, even those tiny little things can be job crafting.

Emily: so. Could it also be something like if you had a particular passion, you could ask to bring that in maybe as a lunchtime club and you would do that club instead of a different playground duty, cuz you’d obviously still be supervising a bunch of kids, so you’re fulfilling your playground duty requirement.

But you are doing it in such a way that like if you really like knitting, maybe you start a knitting club and you teach the kids how to knit. Does that count as sort of job crafting as well?

Angela: And that’s, that’s where there’s, and I think of there’s three different ways to job craft, and maybe we can weave this in that. The first one is to look at your responsibilities and yes, this is what is on my job description. When I applied for my job and when I. Uh, go back to it. This is what my responsibilities are, and if it is however many hours of ya duty you have to do, or being a part of, so many different programs and whatever that might mean for you in your job.

And just looking at that and changing things up and, and wondering, can I do a club instead of the playground duty. And I come back to also that, I used to, I am a Pilates teacher as well, so I learned Pilates and I brought that in as a club and that I was able to do that. I’d bring my mats in.

For me, that was so exciting to be able to do that for a group of it was probably grade five and sixes that could come in and do Pilates, and that was something that brought me joy and that I didn’t see that as anything extra. I saw that as well. That’s one lunchtime that I get to do that,

Emily: Instead of something else like supervising the oval.

Angela: Mm, yes. Yeah. And you can, this is where looking at those responsibilities and seeing how you might be able to mix them up a little bit and coming back to that support and conversations that you might have to have around, is this something that my school is open to? Some people don’t ever have that conversation and explore and look at, these are my responsibilities and how can I change them up a little bit? We all allow the kids to brainstorm and come up with different ways and try different things. And so we need to step into that. And that might also mean having a, a conversation and having support from the people that you work with and,

Emily: Not just assuming it’s gonna be a no.

Angela: Yes. Yeah. You never know until you have that conversation, but also being ready. So yes, there’s three different types of job crafting and before, maybe I can take a step back, before we job craft, and this is the way that I like to work with people, that we really need to get in touch with ourselves and do a bit of a, an audit on ourselves before we can even think about job crafting.

So I like if I sort of categorize it into four areas, getting a really good understanding of yourself and your situation. That most people, when they start thinking, oh, something’s not feeling right, or I’ve been doing the same thing for however many years, you hit that point where you start doing some deep reflections.

So understanding yourself, your situation, and this might be explored on your own or maybe with a therapist or having a conversation with someone that’s close to you that can just listen. So listening to yourself and what is bringing about this change that I, that I’d like to make? So really understanding your situation.

Then you can begin to change that perspective from what I have to do to what I want to do and exploring what is it that I want to do, what might be holding me back. Is it about having a conversation with my principal or, or someone? This is what I’m thinking and this is what I’d really like to do. And just finding out what may be blocking you and what it is, getting really clear about what it is that you are, you’re really wanting to do that.

Looking into that support of who can I talk to about this and

Emily: and that might be a like someone else in the staff room or

like a deputy or like even before you get to the principal.

Angela: Yes. Yeah. Sometimes saying things out loud first to that trusted person gives that voice to, does this sound right when I say it out loud and is this what I really want?

Emily: Or is it something that I feel like I’m supposed to want?

Angela: Yes. Yeah. If, if, if there is this new initiative in your school and everyone’s sort of doing it and you’re going, I’m not sure if that’s right for me.

I still want to be a part of everything yet, is it right for me? And then the, the last part is being creative. So maybe doing some brainstorming, some mind mapping , drawing and, and looking at your timetable and figuring things out. Going, okay, if I had this much time in my day, what would I like to be doing?

And is there room for movement? How supportive is the team that I work in? Are they open to, to new ideas on how to do things? And so it’s about understanding yourself, making sure that you have that right perspective of what you want, getting that really clear. The support. So yeah, having a conversation or maybe just tapping into those people that understand you and can give you that support before you might go that next step to to yeah, the principal or whoever you need to talk to, and being creative, which is the job crafting part where you might start to think of different ideas. How can I look at the responsibilities I have and change them up?

Which then flows into the second part of job crafting, which is about those relationships. As a teacher, I can remember and doing a bit of CRTs. So the casual work, I could walk into a staff room and I could tell which seat was marked for which person. The same people would sit in the same seat, the same spot with the same group of people.

So sometimes as an outsider, I’d. Oh, what happens if I sat in someone’s seat? Is that okay? ? What? How would they feel? Because they’ve been sitting in that same seat for I don’t know how many years. That’s just their routine. They’re comfortable with that. And so when we look around at the relationships that we have and those things that we do without thinking, Are those relationships, the ones that might need a little bit of job crafting and no offense to anyone out there, and it’s about you just changing things up and you might be a part of the same. Uh, when I think about the responsibilities that you had, you all had to be a part of some kind of initiative or group or program or oh n s, and you had to take on that task. And what happens if you have done that for the last five years and you would like a change and there’s one area that really interests you in actually, yeah.

Putting your voice forward and saying, I’d really like this, or, here’s a new idea. How often do you sit in your staff meetings and not actually say something or put forward an idea based on those relationships that are formed, and you don’t wanna step on anyone’s toes and

Emily: Particularly as a, as a new teacher, you don’t, you feel like, or even just new to the school, like you don’t wanna step on toes, you don’t wanna rock the boat, you know, you don’t wanna come across as a busy body or whatever it might be. So I guess, yeah, a lot of teachers could be quite cautious about, Wanting to make any changes to the system because how is that gonna reflect on them and how is it gonna affect everybody and how’s it gonna change the dynamics?

Angela: Yeah. And that were dynamics that if you were to sit in a different spot than your usual spot, would anyone notice? And what would that do for you, and what conversation might you have if you went and sat on a, a different table, or if you’ve been in the same year level with the same team for a while, what would it be like to, to even go?

And I know that in the, the school that I was at, we could go to different staff meetings and sit in with a different team and have a different conversation, but bring in what you were doing in your year level. And that for me, just break things up a little bit because I, it wasn’t the same dynamics. And yes, I wasn’t having to change class or team.

I just, for that, that 45 minutes or however long it was, I could just sit in another, in another space and have a different conversation and it changed things. So even just little things like that, you don’t have to change everything, but maybe something small like that just Observing and shadowing.

You might have been teaching for years and then what happens if you go back to that beginner’s mind and, and go and observe someone else that you’ve never seen teach? Cuz you’re just really interested in doing that. So that’s where just, yeah, those dynamics are like that word about those relationships.

How can you change that up to bring in a different feel to what you’re doing.

Emily: So I think we, we did, I think we’re onto part two of the three for the job crafting. What’s the, what’s part three?

Angela: Yes. So the part three is your mindset, so changing up the way that you are approaching things. When I even think back to any school that I’ve been in, you’ve got lots of really experienced people that might have been there for a while that have a certain way of doing things and there’s no way of changing that.

So I always came with that beginner’s mind and Okay. I’m really curious. Someone said the other day, oh, you’re very optimistic. And I’m went, yes, that’s a way to describe that. I’d always come in and look at things with that optimistic viewpoint. I’m gonna try this, that there’s no harm in trying things and changing things up a little bit. Just give it a go.

Emily: That’s what I used to always say to beginning teachers, like just, you know, even a new way of presenting a content or something, or say, give it a go. If it doesn’t work, you never have to do it again. You know? But it might work and you might enjoy it.

Angela: Yeah. So just making sure you know about your own mindset and am I curious, do I like exploring and is that new? What is it like to step outta my comfort zone? Do I see the glasses half empty or half full? And coming back to that growth mindset that has been a part of, of teaching in Melbourne, that that’s it is about, yeah, slowly changing the way. That you were working and that might upset a part of you that’s going, no, I don’t like change.

Emily: Take me back to comfortable

Angela: Yes. So what small thing can you do? It’s just natural for people to wanna stay in their comfort zone. And it’s about taking small little steps. So with, with the mindset, really looking at at what perspective you, you’ve got and is it fixed on some things?

And are you open to exploring different responsibilities and making those small little changes. With relationships, what can you be looking at? And some people might be thinking, Nope, job craftings not for me. So I just want you to sit with it and go, what is this and how does it look?

And has anyone ever done it in your school? And it, it can be something small as we’ve sort of been describing. About, yeah. Going and sitting in a different staff meeting and just seeing, seeing how that changes your mood and, and your energy level. And what did you gain from listening to someone else go through, through their meeting, and what can you take from it?

Emily: Yeah. Cool. So were, was the first one doing a bit of an introspective look at yourself and working out where you are sitting. Was that number one?

Angela: Yeah. It’s all, that’s almost like that.

I almost say that as the

Emily: Pre-steps? Yeah. , step

Angela: prestep, uh, step zero. Yeah. Getting really clear on who you are, understanding yourself,

Emily: So you might sit there and think, I’m really interested in, you know, the behavior processes at the school, but I’m not interested in I don’t know, something else. Like, I don’t like doing leadership of any form, so I might be looking at what’s available at the school for you to head down that sort of path, and then that would guide where you’d go for the actual three steps.

Angela: That’s right. Yeah. You are really getting to know what’s brought about this change in your mind as well, of this feeling of, yeah, I’d really like to explore job crafting. So where does that come from? So it’s almost like digging a little bit deeper about you before going to the external.

Emily: like, am I bored or, has something changed or,

Angela: Yeah, and just exploring where you were a year, five years ago and how that’s different to where you are now.

So the prestep is really about the self-evaluation, and I like to do a little career audit that looks in on that. Yeah, that story that you’re sitting in at the moment, and how has that changed bringing you up to where you are now? , what are your hopes and dreams for the future? And have you set goals about what the next three, five years are?

So it’s taking some time to audit your career, look into who you are, what you are wanting to step into, and how that can play about in job crafting. So, no, you’re not looking externally, you’re looking internally.

Emily: And then what was step actual one?

Angela: Yes. So changing up responsibilities. Maybe even going back to what is your job description? Is there a document that you can look at, and this is what my job description is. There’s usually dot points about your responsibilities.

You may be able to add on more because as we move through, there might be things that you’re also given that’s not on the job description.

So really looking at your job description, you could go through with a highlighter and if you like all the different colors, which one do you like doing , which one do you maybe not like doing, and is there room for movement within that job description. And can you, would you like to bring anything else in or just play around with what you, what’s already in front of you?

Emily: Perfect. And then step two was relationships.

Angela: Yeah, so changing up relationships and looking at the dynamics and do I sit in the same seat every day? Do I park in the same spot and do I have the same conversations with the same group? And. And just looking at those relationships around you, which ones are really nurturing and positive that you’d like to strengthen?

Is there someone in the staff at any level that you might want to have a connection with?

Emily: Perfect. And then step three was

Angela: Mindset. So changing up your mindset. so coming back to yourself.

Emily: so it kind, so it’s like almost like a full circle.

Angela: Mm, yes. I

Emily: So you explore yourself, and then you look at your job description. Then you look at your relationships, then you look at your mindset, which brings you back to yourself. And then from there you can sort of go, these are the steps that I might wanna take. That’s gonna get me to where I think I wanna go.

Angela: Yeah. exactly. And. With that very first one about understanding yourself, it was also looking into your perspective. So touching in on that mindset a little bit, the support. And then from there you might have had conversations and you might, practice a little bit about what is it that I’d like to say at the next level and who do I need to talk to?

And having it really clear about what you’re actually asking for and what you are hoping for and what you

Emily: Don’t just go to your principal and say, I need change

Angela: Yes,

Emily: Go to them and say, I would like to try doing this club on this day with these kids. So sort of getting yourself to that point. Yep.

Angela: And this is what it would do for me, for the school and for everyone. Just having that holistic view and, and being able to articulate it and to explain why, why you want, want that as well.

Emily: Yeah. Perfect. So we’ve done some examples. We’ve gone through the steps. Is there anything else that you’d wanna add about job crafting?

Angela: There was an article that I read about what, women are really looking for in work. I don’t know whether to touch

Emily: Yeah. Yeah, you can do that.

Angela: I just, Yeah, it’s about flexibility. Be able to thrive at work, bringing in new opportunities, develop, say, learn and grow.

and it’s coming back to meaning and purpose. A lot of people are talking about that recently, having that satisfaction, bringing your whole self to work, and that having, the employer, also the principal or the school that are committed to also your growth and, and bringing all of that into it.

Emily: Yeah, so I guess it’s hard. You can’t really do any job crafting if your leadership is just going to say no at every turn, then you might be looking at more. Tiny changes that you can make within the classroom rather than bigger picture changes. So I guess even if leadership are not receptive, there’s still ways that you can make it work, aren’t there?

Angela: Exactly. You. And that’s where that mindset comes in that, okay, I can’t do this, so what can I, can I make changes in, it might be you drive a different way to school just

Emily: or like if you can’t do a a Pilates club, you might do a Pilates brain break

Angela: Yes, yes. Yeah. So I’m not sure if that sort of ties in about Yeah, the collective of what people are looking for. Maybe in 2023.

Emily: Yeah, I think people are definitely looking for more. things that bring them joy and like, I mean, you have to work. So if there are ways that you can tweak your job to be more enjoyable, that’s, you know, that’s a good thing.

Angela: Mm-hmm. For sure. And just knowing that a lot of people might be thinking about that after Covid, we had to do what we had to do. and then that might have stirred something. You might have done a bit of reflection, and from there you’ve possibly just been kind of coasting and now the world is opening up and you, you can dream again and you can plan for the future.

That there might be that unease going, yes, how can I bring more joy and happiness into what I’m doing? And that it is, it’s your choice. You are the manager of your career and yourself as well. Going back to self-management, how can I change my situation with what I’ve got, with what’s in my control?

Emily: And I think that’s a big thing. A lot of people tend to think that there’s no point even trying because what can I change?

Angela: Hmm

Emily: but what I’m hearing from our conversation is that you, you can actually change a lot, even when you think that you can’t, it might be, like you said, you just talked to somebody else at lunchtime and that might bring about, you know, a ripple effect.

It might change something else somewhere else or change something that if you really dislike a particular responsibility that you’ve been given at school. Talk to people and see if you can maybe swap with somebody. Maybe you really don’t like being the behavior champion at your school, so maybe someone else would like to swap and you could try a different role for a while.

So I guess it’s also about not being stuck in negativity, but it’s also. Nothing to do with like toxic positivity. It’s not about like I have to be perfectly happy every single day that I go to work. It’s just bringing in those little bits that might bring some joy and some refreshing and renewal to the job.

Angela: Yes. And at the end of the day, stopping, and it might be when you finish your day, when you get home. I often do this before I go to bed. What went well in the day and taking that time to reflect. Yes.

Emily: We do that in the classroom.

Angela: And so if we do that in the classroom, why not take that home into our own practice and


Emily: Yep. That could be while you’re brushing your teeth. Have that. Have that thought.

Angela: and go, I had that conversation with someone, or I drove a different way to school, and how did that change my whole day? And was there that flow and effect and ripple effect and taking the time to notice those small little changes in what they, what they do for you.

Emily: Perfect. All right. Can you remind us where people can get in touch with you if they wanted to know more about job crafting or maybe if they wanted you to help them step through the process in a personalized way, where can they find you?

Angela: I offer anyone who’s listening that is really cool to take that next step to join me for a free discovery session. I love chatting about careers and job crafting and anything to do with brainstorming and, and what you are thinking. And that is through my website. So you can go onto career design au and booking a free discovery session and we can talk about what you’re already thinking and so that you can voice that to someone. I’m on socials as well, so if you wanna come find me at Career Design Studio. Yeah. Connect there and we can continue this conversation.

Emily: Perfect. It’s been really wonderful, like exploring this concept of job crafting even deeper. I know we touched on it on the previous episodes and having the time to be able to dive into it, particularly at the beginning of the year where schools and people might be a bit more flexible with how they want the year to go. Thank you so much again for your time today, Angela.


Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys sharing the real and human teacher life, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine.

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