“New responsibility creep” can drain the satisfaction science jobs provide. In Part 1 of this two-part blog, we described the tools for redesigning jobs. In Part 2, we show how to use the tools to produce a focused one-page document that keeps your job up to date with your most current interests and goals.
Using the Goal-Based Work Plan
The goal-based work plan builds on the foundations (passions, purpose, aptitudes, and pay) and uses the tools (formal and informal roles, independent studies, and mentors) introduced in the previous blog post to produce a brief (one-page) yet comprehensive document. Completing the document increases scientists’ clarity about their passions, purposes, interests, and goals. The completed document provides a useful tool for scientists to plan and negotiate job changes with management.
The goal-based work plan creates the structure useful for action planning. It includes:
- A Tasks column that provides the location for much job redesign. Listing the 8–10 major tasks the job includes, it’s where scientists can add formal and informal roles to address their passion, purpose, aptitudes, and pay. Each task begins with a verb (e.g., in science, Research, Study, Analyze, Write, Measure, Assess, Decide). Half the tasks are quantitative and analytical, and the other half involve communications (e.g., Communicate with team members, Partner with users, Manage project team members, Mentor new hires, etc.).
- An Outcomes column that further advances job redesign, asking the scientist to articulate, as specifically as possible, what the expectations for achievement are for each task. In the column, it’s useful to articulate several quantifiable outcomes that doing the task is expected to produce in a three-month time period. The ASMART acronym helps generate outcomes that are clear: Agreed on, Specific, Measurable, Results-Oriented, Time-Bound.
- A Priorities column that often generates considerable thinking. It asks the scientist to divide his/her overall 100% effort into the task categories. The numbers should reflect what’s most important, not how long tasks take.
Completing this form, most people list the tasks quickly and easily, but have to think more about the outcomes (and especially the outcomes for the communications tasks) and struggle most to clarify priorities allocating the 100% among all the tasks.
To illustrate how the form advances job redesign, we illustrate two versions of it for James, a statistician working in a mid-sized biotech company. Figure 1 is his first draft, Figure 2 is his revised version.
James’ Reflections and Job Redesign
James liked the clarity his first draft goal-based work plan provided in describing what he thought his job really was. Reflecting on his passions, purpose, aptitudes and pay, the draft helped him understand his frustration with his job. He revised the first draft:
- Noting that the outline failed to address his passions for learning new statistical methods and the discovery aspects of science, he added a detail to his Estimate Sample Size task to include piloting new methods. Addressing his passion for scientific discovery, James refined his role in Analyze Research Designs to sanction greater involvement in the discovery process. He also thought he’d reach out to ask Emma, a senior statistician to mentor him. She seemed to have done an excellent job keeping herself up to the minute with evolving statistical methods.
- Seeing that the outline neglected his purpose to increase the visibility and role of statistics in the research process, James reformulated his role in his Analyze Research Design tasks to be more proactive. Instead of waiting to be called to provide input, he began to reach out to the scientists working in early phases of research so that he could be included in the earliest possible discovery discussions. Along similar lines, he enlarged his role Participating in the Statistics Group to work on developing the company-wide statistics training his managers had asked for some time ago.
- Tapping into emerging aptitudes for leading groups James noticed in his activities on town civic committees, he thought he’d try taking a more active role in the statistics group, perhaps co-facilitating it instead of just participating as a member. At the same time, he thought it would be useful to conduct a brief study of the way similar groups function in other companies. He realized he could find considerable useful information efficiently through his contacts in the statistician’s professional association he belonged to.
- James reflected on his task to Work with New Statisticians in the recent merger of his company with a smaller start-up. He realized that taking a more active role partnering with that group would enable him to address both his passion to enlarge the impact and role of statistics in the company and his aptitude for group work.
- As James reviewed the Priority column, he reduced his effort for estimating sample sizes and writing reports, tasks that interested him less and should be easier to accomplish with his experience. He increased the priorities for analysis, communications and partnering work implied by his new roles Estimating Sample Sizes, Analyzing Research Designs, and Co-Facilitating the Statistician’s Group.
- Finally, when James checked the pay data he found on the Internet, he noted that making the job redesign changes he was considering would enlarge the statistics job in ways that justified pay increases beyond the levels he had reached.
Pleased and energized by his revisions, James discussed his Revised Draft with his lab’s projects, statistics and human resource managers. Each had questions about but overall positive reactions to the plan. Over the course of a few weeks, James was able to implement most of the plan and see the results in his everyday work.