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Why Resign When You Can Redesign? The Four R’s of Job Redesign


At Fluency, there are many doors that lead coaching clients into our house. As you might expect, a common door is a desire for career and job change. We love to engage with brave people who are willing and fully capable of exploring what’s possible with the support of the third-party thinking and the natural curiosity of a coach. 

But here’s a common place where that door might get stuck on the way in. 

“I have to decide if I want to stay in this job, or leave and get a new job.” 

Our job as coaches is to unstick that door and reframe that thinking so it can open nice and smooth.  

First, we remove the tyranny of OR and we replace it with the genius of AND (thanks Jim Collins). We encourage the client to think about what they can do to redesign where they are right now AND start the exploration of what’s possible in a new chapter of their careers. We do that for a few reasons: 

  • In a mindset of scarcity, we can tell ourselves the story that we have to leave to make a positive change in our careers. That is one of the factors of the Great Resignation.  In that narrow hallway of two options, we think that’s the only solution to our problem. That may well end up being the truth the client comes to, but often, they haven’t even thought about exploring the opportunity to redesign where they are right now. 
  • Whether or not resigning is the better choice, what’s immediately available is the opportunity to reframe the current role and put new thinking and intention to work right now, rather than saving the fresh ideas and approaches for the next gig. Putting that goodness on to the field of play can be a great warm up lap for what’s next, and you never know what you can discover when you bring intentional and courageous change to your current work context. 

 As Designing Your Work Life shows us, “The better job you seek may be the one right next to you.” 

Speaking from Experience  

This is a lived experience for me. Throughout my long and wild career at Electronic Arts (EA), I went through a few job redesigns. Each was about moving from one place, in which I felt stuck, to a new place in which I had new challenges, new energy, and new opportunities.  When I reflect on it, it was me (not the organization) that initiated the best redesigns.  I started those conversations with a clear understanding of my needs state for the future. The redesigns were fraught with risk and uncertainty. And they were exactly what I needed in those moments. 

There was also a time at EA when my role was redesigned for me. It sucked in that moment. A lot. I got to the other side of the suck and learned an enormous amount from the experience. But what I was clear about is that I would never be the receiver of a redesign ever again in my career. I would listen for the signals, look out for the signs, and do the work to redesign my future when it was the time and place to do so. 

We Give Ourselves Our Jobs 

As a Certified Designing Your Life Coach, I have the privilege of participating in learning and development sessions led by the founders of DYL Bill Burnett and Dave Evans on a regular basis. They give me goosebumps and spark my passion for DYL, and they give us some amazing new tools and language to bring to our clients all the time.  

Earlier this year, Dave led us through a great conversation about redesigning. When he said, “we give ourselves our jobs,” it was a breakthrough moment for me. As Dave told us, we create our jobs. We action and own our jobs. We are the ones that are capable of doing our jobs. Because we are the humans doing the jobs. 

What I love about this thought is the agency it gives us. It reminds us (because we need that reminding) that we are ridiculously in charge of our careers. We need to tap into that agency and our abilities to craft and re-craft our roles. Within our organizations, we’ve already built relational equity, influence, and wisdom, and we can leverage those assets and create new jobs for ourselves. 

As they say, the best way to get started is to get started. So here are four ways in which you can think about redesigning where you are at — right now:  

Reframe It 

The simple yet profound mindset of reframing is readily available to us. Taking a challenge or problem and turning it on its head and looking at it from a different perspective can show us so much. Here’s one example: when we feel like our job sucks, we can easily and quickly make a list of things we don’t like about it. The reframe is to intentionally make a list of things you do like about your job, your colleagues, your manager, and your organization. That can help you see things you have forgotten or have new priority for you, and that itself can be a gamechanger. 

Remodel It  

Another approach is to get out the career paint and tools and do a remodel. That could be letting go of a part of your role that provides you with little fulfillment and joy, and offering that to a better owner or department within your organization. It might mean leaning in and framing up the possibility of taking on some new scope and responsibilities which unlocks better fulfillment and opportunity for you, regardless of whether it comes with short term wins like increased compensation or status change in the organization. 

Relocate It 

It’s time to move! You love your organization and its purpose, but what you’ve realized is that you need a change of scenery…for everyone’s benefit. Think about what a change of team, change of physical location, or change of mandate could do for you. When you relocate, you bring all the organizational awareness, wisdom and experience with you. It can be a veritable win-win for both parties. 

Reinvent It 

You may have told yourself the story that your organization has no appetite to talk about a “new you” in your career. Most people never even brave that conversation. Just because there is no existing job description or team name doesn’t mean you can’t explore what’s possible. A desire to reinvent isn’t a rejection of the team, the organization, or the boss. It’s an expression of desire to stay and contribute to the future, but through a new definition and new contribution. It might be in a new craft or a new business challenge that needs solving. Whatever it is, the starting point is the courageous conversation, getting curious, and talking to people who could be part of your reinvention. 


What would it bring you if you dropped OR and replaced it with AND as you think about your next career chapter? 

What’s the great job that’s right next to you today? 

If you could redesign your current job, what would be your next best step? 



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