Job Repair

More and more often, you see people who aren't feeling comfortable with themselves at work. Unfortunately, also in the event industry. You can quit, but according to Wim Thielemans, there's also an alternative: jobrepair.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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More and more often, you see people who aren't feeling comfortable with themselves at work. Unfortunately, also in the event industry. You can quit, but according to Wim Thielemans, there's also an alternative: jobrepair.

Hi Wim, welcome back to our studio.

Hi Kevin.

You were here, a couple of weeks ago, when we talked about smart interviewing or smart recruitment. Today we're going to talk about jobrepair. But first: I'm curious about the title JobRepair. Where does it come from? Or, what does it mean?

Well, there is an international organization, who is setting up Repair Cafés. What does it mean? It means that there's the right to repair our own goods. And people want...

When something is broken, they don't want to throw it away. They want to repair it, itself. But very often, we don't know anymore, how to repair. So, this café is where you can go. There are people who know how to repair it. Who teach you, so that, next time, you can repair it yourself.

And that gave me the idea. Because in my work as a career coach, I found a lot of people were struggling with the question: should I stay, or should I leave? And if you throw away your job, you leave. But very often people have reasons why they stay. Otherwise they would have been already gone. And then we need to investigate if the job can be repaired. So, that's where the title came from.

Okay, when do I know...

As I'm working for a company, when do I know my job needs repair?

Yes, this is an individual question. Usually you know it yourself. But I try to distinct between your career. If you are in your career...

If you're certain about your career versus if you're uncertain about your career. And then, on the other hand, you also have the job itself, that you're doing for the moment. Whether you are in your energy in your job. Or whether you are out of your energy, when you dislike your job. And then you create four different positions.

Yes, it's like a matrix.

Yes, like a matrix. So, in the matrix, you have the people who are good in their job. They are happy in their job. And they are happy in their career. Then, what they are looking for in this jobrepair, is that they are looking for advancement. They are looking for opportunities. How can I become better, so that I'm even more successful in my job?

Now, you also have people who are happy in their current job, but they doubt if they have to make a move in their career. So, what would be the next move for them? That is: their looking for an opportunity.

You also have people who are happy in their career, but unhappy in their job. And they are demotivated. For them it is a way of finding new energy in the job that they have. And how they can do that, without the need to go away.

The last group of people is the people who are under a depression. A burnout could be an example. And it's very often they both have a doubt whether they still are in the right career. And they find, for the moment, their job is not going as it should be. So, they are demotivated. And that they find ways to get out of that. My advice...

I wanted to ask: in that last quadrant, is there still hope to stay in your job?

Yes, well that's a very good question. From my personal experience...

I had a burnout, a couple of years ago. And that's why I learned that the best thing to do, is to get from this depression, into a demotivation. So that you un-doubt yourself. Whether you need to make another move, another type of career. Because otherwise, when you need to do that, when you have to go and present yourself. Or even when you're an independent. You need to design a lot of certainty and a lot of energy. To present yourself or to set something up. You can't do that when you're uncertain about your own future. So, you have to get back first, to: okay, maybe this is not the job which is fantastic. But at least I'm certain about myself. And that's the first way to get out. If you're there then, doing whatever you need to be doing. And it's not working. Then after that you know: there's nothing wrong with myself. But I need to make another move, to another job, to another organization. So, with that you have enough energy to make that move. Then, when you do an interview, you don't look like you're really uncertain about everything. People won't hire you then, anyway.

No, indeed.

How do you repair your job? How do you start with that?

Yes, well, one of the things that I first do, is that...

I found out that the reason we have particular frustrations in our work, speaking to a lot of people and having done a lot of career coaching, is that I found that there are five reasons. So, when people recognize this reason for this frustration, they feel at ease.

So, the first one is that people have a frustration about the environment that they are working in. For example, the environment could be that the job I need to go to, is, maybe, 40 kilometers. But there's a traffic jam all the time. So, then I don't like the job itself, because I need to stand too long in a traffic jam.

There's also tasks, that could be a reason why people dislike their job. Something that they dislike might be administration that they need to fulfill, that no-one is really taking care of.

Another one is their pay or their remuneration, that people have. When you feel that what you're doing is not rewarded, according to the market, you feel unhappy. But reward is also not only the financial part. For many people the rewarding part is when you get feedback from your boss or your colleagues or someone, that you're doing a good job. People feel happy when they are being appreciated for what they're doing. So, that's this reward of positive feedback.

And then you also have relationships. That's a big frustration as well. We start working in a company, but the colleagues are already there. You didn't choose them.


Yes, you can't choose them, unfortunately.

And very often people have conflicts with other colleagues, sometimes their boss. And it's a very big frustration as well. But, guess what: you can solve that as well.

So, that's the number one that you could do. Number two is...

To answer your question of: how do you do it then? Let's maybe focus on tasks. What is for you something that you...

Then I would suggest you to do, is to take your tasks. And to categorize first the tasks, what you're doing in your job, in five categories. The first category is...

We call it fueled tasks. So, these are the tasks that you find fine, that you find funny and you're happy to do.

The second one is: those that you find unpleasant. The tasks that you don't like. If I would use my hands: so, these are the fine tasks. And then there's this little finger in the middle, which are your unpleasant tasks.

There is a task in the middle. Which is between: you like them, and you dislike them. These are dual tasks.

Then you have the empty tasks. Which are tasks that you can do when you had a tough day. On the automatic pilot. You don't like them, particularly. But you don't dislike them either. It's a little bit on mindset zero that you can do that.

And then you have your latent tasks. These are the tasks that you are not doing yet. But you'd like to add them to your job. Or there's a particular reason. Maybe digitalization or anything. Something that you have to start preparing for the future. That you have to add to your tasks. That's the latent task.

So, that would be number one. Now, if you have unraveled the tasks that you find unpleasant.

Maybe for you, Kevin, what is an unpleasant task, that you have for the moment?

I would say: doing reports and administration. Filling in numbers for analytics. That kind of stuff.

Okay, good. Now, the first thing that comes to mind, that people have, if you find something unpleasant, is find someone else who likes doing that and you pass it on to this person.

Yes, great.

You probably thought of that, too. Yes, so, do you have anyone in your head where you can...

No, unfortunately not. I have to do it myself.

So, here is, for example...

We designed a job crafting game. Where you have twenty different techniques, that you can do to find or to craft, re-craft your job, to make it more pleasant.

So, one of the things there is that you can reward yourself for doing a particular job, or the order. What I mean by that is the following. Do you have a task that you really like? That you find funny and happy. Makes you happy doing that.

Yes, the creative parts of my work. Doing some brainstorm. Sketching out some new pages for the website. That kind of stuff.

Okay, so let's imagine that you plan doing that at ten o'clock. You meet up with someone and you position this administrative task at nine o'clock. So, now you have one hour, that you can do this. This is the first thing that you do in your day. And then you reward yourself with the happy task, the task that you really look forward to.After you've done an hour of administration. How would that sound?

Already better. Because you have something to look forward to.

So, the idea is not that you do magic and that will go away. The idea is that we have learned that in our life or in our families, that life is not perfect. So, why would it be in our job? So, you try to find small ways to make it less unpleasant. Or make it happy. And that's what you can find in the technique.

Is it also about changing your mindset about stuff?

Yes, that's one of the techniques. We call it cognitive crafting. Which means: if, for example, if people have no idea why they have to do something and who would benefit, if you get them in contact with someone who benefits from it, then immediately the job will become more pleasant.

I'll give you an example. You have people who do fund raising. Fund raising for, for example, organizations who need to have funds. Because they don't have enough money and they do charity work. Now, the people who do that in a call center, they have a lot of noes. But if you bring them in contact with people who benefit and who tell the story of the fact that, through that, their life was saved or they found someone or whatever the charity's about...

When you bring them with the real life stories in contact, you see that people, after they met them, that they are more keen on trying harder to get the funds. Because they know that these funds are really very useful.

So, that's a way of cognitive crafting. Now, the way we do that in the book is that...

I don't know what is the task that you find unpleasant. So, I can't give you advice. But I can teach you a way that, anytime you get to an unpleasant task, that you can take the cards, So, you can take it out of the book. And then you trigger yourself to, in the twenty solutions that you have, small solutions, to select the one that suits most what you find unpleasant.

I notice you are always talking about what you can do yourself. Isn't it also a possibility to just step up to your manager and ask: I want a raise. Or: I don't want to do that job anymore. Wouldn't that be easier?

Well, it sounds easy, but the reason why I don't take that as the first one, is that you'll immediately get an objection then. That people will say: yes, but he will never accept that. Or: they will never allow that. So, you need to be able to make yourself self-supportive. So that, regardless of someone else who helps you, that you need to find your own way. And on top of that, of course, if there's something, if there's a reason that you need to involve your colleague or your boss, that of course you sometimes need to ask something.

If you want a latent task and you go to your boss, you know that your boss has a desire for, for example, that projects are always on time. Then, if you go to him and you present your latent task. Something you like doing. That that is the way to get the job done on time. Then of course you get ears. So, you need to design it, so that it suits what he wants out of the work that you are doing. So, in a second stage: yes, of course, you need help.

But, in the third stage, if no-one helps you, you have to help yourself.

Yes, being your own strength.

Okay Wim, people who want to find more information on this subject. Where can they find it?

Well, would be a place to go to. We'll help organizations who are transforming. Because there are now a lot of people, who are in jobs, like in the bank sector for example, who are at stake. They need to find new ways. So, the job repair could be a project inside organizations to redo and to find a way. It is actually the right to repair my job. So, that means: before you get me redundant, can I get the chance to do my job?

Can I give, maybe, an example for that? It's a clear example from IBM. IBM had engineers who were consulting in a particular software. But that software was made redundant. So, these people were unable to step in the new projects. But on the other hand, there was new software. A new technology that they needed consultants for. So, they told these engineers, they said: listen, this is the situation. We have for you, for a time, still work, but you will work only on four days a week. Not on a full-time basis. On the fifth day, we will provide for training. But it will be on your account. You're not forced to do that. You have to consider whether you like it or not. But after the project, there will be, for the new technology, new work for you. And you just apply again, for this new job. So, for those people who do not like this, there's a redundancy plan. So, they can still be on board and then they are waved away. But for those who want to step in the new technology, get yourself retrained.

Now, what happened in this project? What they found and researched at the end, is that this group of engineers, became, actually, the best engineers in this technology. Why is that? Because they knew what IBM was. They knew the job. They knew the culture. They knew the style of de clients they had. And they worked with the new technology in this environment. And that brought them, much quicker, to a better work, than if they would have hired all the new engineers, who came with, maybe, the knowledge, but who didn't know all the rest. So, that's a way of repairing the job and supporting there.

Okay Wim, thank you very much.

And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.