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Job Sculpting: The Art of Retaining your Best Employees

What is job sculpting?

Job sculpting is the art of matching people to jobs that allow their deeply embedded life interests to be expressed. It is the art of forging a customized career path in order to increase the chance of retaining talented people. It is deeply embedded in life interests that are long-held, emotionally driven passions, intricately entwined with personality and thus born of unspecified mix of nature and nurture.

Job sculpting techniques

  • Ask employees to play an active role in job sculpting, perhaps by having them write about their views of career satisfaction an excellent starting point for a discussion.
  • In some cases, sculpting can begin simply by adding a new responsibility. An Accountant who has a deeply embedded life interest in counseling and mentoring might be asked to plan and manage the orientation of new hires.
  • A change in assignment provides another sculpting opportunity. A Marketer with an interest in quantitative analysis might be given new duties working with market research analysts.
  • Managers should have a strong interest in the motivational psychology of their employees. In fact, they should openly express their willingness to help sculpt their employees ‘careers and to make the extra effort required to hold onto talented people.
  • Even greater sculpting changes are sometimes required for example, when a manager can only meet a worker’s interests with a transfer to another department. In other cases, amicable separation is necessary, as when an Accounting firm has no job for an employee with a life interest in influence through language and ideas.

Importance of job sculpting

  • It keeps people engaged, and keeps them off from quitting.
  • It is the art of forging a customized career path in order to increase the chance of retaining talented people.
  • It creates happiness at work which often translates into commitment in employees’ areas of work.
  • It creates good opportunities for advancement at work.

Business core functions that represent the way deeply embedded life interests find expression in business

  1. Application of Technology: Whether or not they are actually working as or were trained to be engineers, people with the life interest application of technology are intrigued by the inner workings of things. They are curious about finding better ways to use technology to solve business problems.
  2. Quantitative Analysis: Some people aren’t just good at running the numbers, they excel at it. They see it as the best, and sometimes the only, way to figure out business solutions. Similarly, they see mathematical work as fun when others consider it drudgery, such as performing a cash-flow analysis, fore-casting the future performance of an investment instrument or figuring out the best debt/equity structure for a business. They might also enjoy building computer models in order to determine optimal production scheduling and to perform accounting procedures.
  3. Theory Development and Conceptual Thinking: For some people, nothing brings more enjoyment than thinking and talking about abstract ideas. People with this interest can be excited by building business models that explain competition within a given industry or by analyzing the competitive position of a business within a particular market. Our research also shows that people with this deeply embedded interest are often drawn to academic careers. Some end up there; many do not.
  4. Creative Production: Some people always enjoy the beginning of projects the most, when there are many unknowns and they can make something out of nothing. These individuals are frequently seen as imaginative, out of the box thinkers. They seem most engaged when they are brainstorming or inventing unconventional solutions. Indeed, they seem to thrive on newness. The reason creative production is one of their dominant deeply embedded life interest making something original, be it a product or a process.
  5. Counseling and Mentoring: For some people, nothing is more enjoyable than teaching in business, that usually translates into coaching or mentoring. These individuals are driven by the deeply embedded life interest of counseling and mentoring, allowing them to guide employees, peers, and even clients to better performance. People with a high interest in counseling and mentoring are also often drawn to organizations, such as museums, schools, and hospitals, that provide products or services they perceive to hold a high social value. People like to counsel and mentor for many reasons. Some derive satisfaction when other people succeed; others love the feeling of being needed. Regardless, these people are drawn to work where they can help others grow and improve.
  6. Managing People and Relationships: Longing to counsel and mentor people is one thng; wanting to manage them is another thing entirely. Individuals with this deeply embedded life interest enjoy dealing with people on a day to day basis. They derive a lot of satisfaction from workplace relationships, but they focus much more on outcomes than do people in the counseling and mentoring category. In other words, they’re less interested in seeing people grow than in working with and through them to accomplish the goals of the business, whether it is building a product or making a sale. That is why people with this life interest often find happiness in line management positions or in sales careers.
  7. Enterprise Control: Enterprise-control people are easy to spot in organizations. They seem happiest when running projects or teams, they enjoy “owning” a transaction such as a trade or a sale. These individuals also tend to ask for as much responsibility as possible in any work situation. Pure interest in enterprise control can be seen as an interest in deal making or in strategy a person with this life interest wants to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), not the Chief Operations Officer (COO). Investment bankers, for example, don’t run ongoing operations but often demonstrate a very strong interest in enterprise control.
  8. Influence Through Language and Ideas: Some people love ideas for their own sake, but others love expressing them for the sheer enjoyment that comes from storytelling, negotiating, or persuading. Such are people with the deeply embedded life interest of in-fluence through language and ideas. They feel most fulfilled when they are writing or speaking or both. Just let them communicate. People in this category sometimes feel drawn to careers in public relations or advertising, but they often find themselves elsewhere, because speaking and writing are largely considered skills, not careers. And yet for some, effective communication is more than just a skill it’s a passion.

Examples of pairs of embedded life interests that are most commonly found together among employees

  • Enterprise Control with Managing People and Relationships: These people want to run a business on a day to day basis but are also challenged by and enjoy managing people.
  • Managing People and Relationships with Mentoring and Counseling: These are ultimate people-oriented professionals. They have a strong preference for service management roles, enjoying the front line aspects of working in high customer contact environment. They also tend to enjoy human resources management roles.
  • Quantitative Analysis in Managing People and Relationships: These people like finance and finance related jobs, yet they also find a lot of pleasure managing people towards goals.
  • Enterprise Control with Influence Through Language and Ideas: This is the most common profile of people who enjoy sales. This combination is also found extensively among general managers especially those who are charismatic leaders.
  • Application of Technology with Managing People and Relationships: This is the engineer, the computer scientist or other technically oriented individual who enjoys leading a team.
  • Creative Production with Enterprise Control: This is the most common combination among the entrepreneurs. These people want to start things and dictate where projects will go.


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About the Author

Thank you for reading this article. The author, James Ndambiri is an avid Business Advisor and Consultant: A Tax Surgeon, Proficient Accountant, Skilled Auditor, a Guru in Financial and Investment management, Expert in Business Strategy Formulation, Business Transformation Wizard, Family Business Advisor, Lecturer, Business Coach and a Family Man.

James is the Founder, Team Leader, CEO & Managing Partner of MNC Consulting Group. MNC Consulting Group is your most trusted and respected professional business consulting firm recognised by our clients for delivering excellent business advisory and consulting services that create value to their ventures. With our focus set on value addition, we offer our clients the highest quality professional services in Accounting, Audit and assurance, Tax, Business Transformation, Investments and Financial Advisory, Family Business Advisory, Company Secretarial Services and Property Management that addresses their business needs through attracting, recruiting and retaining knowledgeable and passionate professionals who enable us to deliver superior results while contributing positively to the community in which we live and work.


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