Connect with us
Advertisement

Job’s Worth

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

“Is there no inspiration in labor? Must the man who works go on forever in a deadly routine, fall into the habit of mechanical nothingness, and reap the reward of only so much drudgery and so much pay? I think not. The times demand an industrial prophet who will lift industry off from its rusted, medieval hinges and put pure human interest, and simple, free-spirited life into modern workmanship” McChesney, 1917I

In the Journal of Applied Psychology’s  first edition, G. G. McChesney made this elegant call to more seriously design work that preserves human character. McChesney went on to argue that “every man should be more of a man, a better man, for having worked a day,” and that “deterioration of men deteriorates profits”. Thus, right from the very beginning we have been considering what type of work is best for organizations and those who work in them.

The interest in the question of what makes ‘good’ work, largely arose because of the specialized and simplified jobs that became prevalent during the Industrial Revolution, when machine-operated work in large factories replaced small, craft-based industries. Around mid 1700 the concept of division of labour emerged, something which Taylor took further with the precept of scientific management, in which tasks were broken down into simplified elements.

Time and motion study  complemented these simplification principles, with Henry Ford fully exploiting them by opening the first continuously moving automotive production line in 1913. The success of this mode of work organization was so great, that simplified or narrow and low autonomy jobs became the work design of choice in manufacturing and beyond. Simplified work designs still exist, as witnessed at contract manufacturer Foxconn, who have become (in)famous for the large-scale production of such products as the iPhone.

Years ago how we did our work was the decision of management and work design left to experts and OD specialists. As appreciation increases for the fact that most employees spend half their waking hours at work a and a lot of  see it as a struggle, or at least a bore, where looking forward to the weekend when they can do more meaningful things is their main motivation, there is understanding that we should harness peoples desires.  But what if employers could change that so that employees felt that the job itself was worthwhile? What if work was meaningful, left one satisfied, and through it, you felt that you were part of something bigger?

In my article last week, I reflected on what jobs had disappeared in the past few years but it isn’t just the jobs which are ceasing to exist but also how they are being changed. When I studied HR we learnt about job design and today this has an old fashioned ring to it as modern proactive employers look towards things like job crafting which allows employees to become involved in the design of work.

This is where job crafting comes in. Job crafting is about taking proactive steps and actions to redesign what we do at work, essentially changing tasks, relationships, and perceptions of our jobs (Berg et al., 2007). The main premise is that we can stay in the same role, getting more meaning out of our jobs simply by changing what we do and the ‘whole point’ behind it. It’s about creating or crafting a job that you can love. You still do your function but at the same time the work is more aligned with our strengths, motives, and passions. And the research shows that when this happens there is better performance, engagement and intrinsic motivation.

Crafting can take place in three ways – task crafting, relationship crafting, and/or cognitive crafting, referring to the ‘behaviours’ which employees can use to become ‘crafters’. Task crafting is about adding or dropping the responsibilities set out in your official job for instance, a chef may take it upon themselves to not just serve food but to create beautifully designed plates that enhance a customer’s dining experience. As another example, a bus driver might decide to give helpful sightseeing advice to tourists along his route.  In both instances, the purpose is to harness individual passions, knowledge and skills to give added value to the task – a win-win situation.

This type of crafting might also (or alternatively) involve changing the nature of certain responsibilities, or dedicating different amounts of time to what you currently do, while not affecting the quality or impact of what you’re hired to do – although probably improving it. Relationship crafting is how people reshape the type and nature of the interactions they have with others or changing up whom we work with on different tasks and communicate and engage with on a regular basis. A marketing manager might brainstorm with the firm’s app designer to talk and learn about the user interface, unlocking creativity benefits while crafting relationships, linking  departments and functions and increasing engagement for both.

Cognitive crafting is how people change their mindsets about the tasks they do. By changing perspectives on what we’re doing, we can find or create more meaning about what might otherwise be seen as ‘busy work’. Changing hotel bedsheets in this sense might be less about cleaning and more about making travellers’ journeys more comfortable and memorable. When you do this you may find an employee saying such things as “Technically, my job is putting in orders orders, but really I see it as providing our customers with an enjoyable experience, a positive service delivery, which is a lot more meaningful to me than entering numbers.

In my own work I went through a really busy period a few weeks back which saw me pushing 14 hour days and being under a lot of pressure.  At one stage my kids said to me sorry that you are having to work so hard, Dad, and stay at the office so late. I had to explain to them they must never feel sorry for me. I love what I do and I have such purpose in the job that I do that for me putting in the extra effort and dealing with the pressure is all part of it and I don’t mind it – for the most part I love it.

I guess I may be in the overall minority because I am in a wonderful opportunity to shape my environment and really make decisions about what I do and what I don’t do. The old  cliché of ‘find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life’ is being transformed into ‘create the job you love’.  Through one, two, or all of the above, job crafting proponents argue that we can redefine, re-imagine, and get more meaning out of what we spend so much time doing.  In this way it really could become ‘a labour of love’.

Continue Reading

Columns

The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

Continue Reading

Columns

A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

Continue Reading

Columns

Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!