We are so pleased to see Job sharing gaining more traction in senior roles. With increasing numbers of leadership Job shares springing up, I thought it would be timely to publish our experience of what is important to consider when it comes to leading as a Job share Partnership. The more senior the role, the more relevant the point that "success in Job sharing requires a Talent Partnership mindset, as opposed to a Job share mindset".
Adopting a Talent Partnership mindset
Ironically, interpreting a Job share as "sharing a job" doesn't lead to success, quite the opposite in fact; it encourages a mindset of "arranging cover" as opposed to "ensuring continuity". It is this mindset that informs the all too common judgement of "this role isn't suited to Job sharing". Adopting a Talent Partnership mindset from the outset builds a partnership approach to full-time continuity, with inherent communication and commitment to building reputation around a Talent Partnership identity; this approach is crucial for success in leadership.
Practical considerations when leading a team
Having created and supported Talent Partnerships for several years, we recognise that whilst there isn't necessarily a "one size fits all" approach to managing as a partnership, there are common success criteria. Our advice is to avoid splitting the role, since this introduces breaks in continuity and instead to take lead in certain aspects, whilst ensuring the partnership retains ownership and accountability for all duties. Some partnerships successfully split out the man management duties from other project duties and this can work. Other partnerships have split man management and then found that a full partnership approach works better. So with this in mind, our advice is to start with a plan, stick to the plan, review effectiveness early and be prepared to refine the approach based on success.
Pioneers of senior level Job share partnerships are inherently part of building cultural acceptance in their organisation, by delivering successfully and becoming role models to support further roll out. It's important to bare in mind as leaders and managers of teams, that your effective, transparent communication and a consistent approach sets a great example and is part of building wider trust and cultural acceptance.
Top tips to take away
With a Talent Partnership mindset, our top tips for getting started in leading and managing as a Job share are:
1. Agree your vision and communication plan for managing the team together at the outset, stick to it, and review regularly, with a first 360 at 3 months.
2. Whether your approach is a pure share, or you are taking lead on certain aspects, ensure this is clearly communicated to the team. Share how you maintain continuity and ensure that your system is set up to reflect and support your approach e.g. should team members be able to specify one partner over the other?.
3. Present a united front; always back each other up and tackle differences offline during your comms sessions.
4. Be prepared to flex based on what works best; run regular 360 feedback with the team and wider stakeholders.
5. Schedule performance reviews on overlap days to reinforce the partnership identity with the team.
A final point to consider when managing teams is to be intentional about creating opportunities to deputise e.g. by taking holiday at the same time at certain times of the year to give team members the opportunity to step up.
Advice and support
At Ginibee, our Partner Up training programme has been designed to address and accelerate cultural acceptance of implementing Jobsharing. If you have any questions about this post we would love to hear from you. Or to find out more about how we can help you to successfully implement Job sharing, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article produced by: Kathryn Jump & Lisa Tye
Partners Kathryn Jump and Lisa Tye job share and are joint Head of Shoosmiths Planning and Environment Team.
Lisa talks about her and Kathryn’s job share journey and their experience of job sharing as Partners at Shoosmiths:
“In 2005 I had my first child and my second followed a couple of years later. It was on my return from my second period of maternity leave that I first started to feel that things didn’t seem fair at the firm where I was working. I had been told I was on track for promotion, but suddenly I was told I wasn’t being put forward because my utilisation over the previous year wasn’t high enough – this was a year in which I had spent 6 months on maternity leave!
My colleague at that firm, Kathryn, had also come back to work after having a child and we were both trying to squash a full-time workload into a 4-day week. A germ of an idea started to form - what if we could work together to create circumstances in which a semblance of a work life balance might be found? We had no examples of successful job shares being undertaken, either by fellow lawyers or indeed anybody around us, but given that we had very similar backgrounds and level of qualification, and were both struggling with the way things were, it seemed like a good plan.
So in 2008 we joined DWF in our first position as a job sharing pair of Associates. In 2010 we moved to Semple Fraser as Legal Directors and in 2013 became Partners at Shoosmiths. We applied for all of these posts and promotions as a pair, even attending interviews on each other’s behalf during the other’s maternity leave.
After a period heading up the Northern Planning team at Shoosmiths we now jointly lead the national Planning and Environment team, responsible for driving the team’s growth forward across the UK.
In the early years of our job share we worked a 3 day week each, with a full day overlap on a Wednesday. This enabled time both for handovers and for seeing clients and contacts together where needed. It also meant that we could have proper time to discuss strategies at a time when we were growing our practice, and to bounce ideas off each other on client matters. Whilst there were some clients who were sceptical at first, the benefits of ‘two heads’ plus much more cover than one person can provide (holiday cover etc) soon erased any concerns. We have a number of clients who have been loyal to us over a number of years, through different firms, who are very happy to shout about the virtues of our working arrangements on our behalf. In order to be completely seamless there is inevitably a need for some email watching on our non-working days but the knowledge that there is someone else ‘back at base’ limits the need for us to be directly involved. As we have grown a team around us the sharing of client matters has lessened as there is more scope to delegate, but the need to share managerial responsibilities has increased.
Sustaining a successful job-share partnership for over 10 years has not been easy but we think the keys to our success have been (1) shared ambition; (2) honest and open communication; and (3) patience and perseverance. We have driven each other to be the best that we can both can be.
As Shoosmiths in now a fully agile office and business, this has helped to facilitate our job share arrangement and enable us to make the most of our part-time, job share arrangement so that we can flex our work around family life. Law is a very full on career, but a job share has been the perfect way to manage our burgeoning careers and growing families. A way to deliver on our ambitions whilst also being “present” at home.”
Kathryn and Lisa were recognised as Power Job Sharers in the 2019 Timewise Power 50 Awards. They were both also named Leading Individuals for planning legal work in the 2019 editions of Legal 500 and Chambers UK and as Women of Influence 2019 in Planner magazine.
Companies are losing out on experienced talent due to a need for full-time continuity
“We have only just had a decision and unfortunately they said no. I’m disappointed but have decided to hand in my resignation. I don't want to commit to more hours as I have a very young family"
This is a quote from yet another candidate I was approached by today who has been forced to resign her management position because she needed to reduce her hours, but her employer was unable to support the request.
In an economy where employment is high and attrition is also on the increase, competition for talent is fierce. At an average UK attrition rate of 15%, this poses a huge cost to organisations and with this knowledge, it’s more important than ever that companies measure, monitor and understand why their employees are leaving and work out what it will take to retain their top talent.
Reflecting with Jane and Helen on their experience returning to a career in Chemistry through a pioneering Job-share has uncovered some interesting lessons, which I’d like to share with you in support of helping more women (and men) advance their careers in science through successful Job-sharing
It was lovely catching up with these two fabulous ladies who we matched as an inter-generational Talent Partnership, to share one full-time role. They are still together after two years, here I'm sharing there experience after 8 and they were able to tell me about what difference being in a Talent Partnership has made to their lives
Part-time is an interesting concept and yet another term which is open to interpretation. More often than not, we find that part-time is in fact a 4 day week, requiring a "most-of-the-time" commitment, to deliver the same full-time output, in four days and to be paid pro-rata.
Job-sharing has seen renewed energy and momentum in recent years, since the right to request flexible working legislation came into play in June 2014. Since then, there has been increasing awareness of the work-life balance trade off at senior levels and the impact this has had on gender pay gap. Millennials and senior talent possess a new confidence to admit that work-life balance and career progression are high on the agenda when choosing an employer and are prepared to be proactive about it.
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
This #IWD, we thought we would look at the history of job sharing, reflecting how far we’ve come, how far we’ve left to go and to acknowledge some of the inspiring job share partnerships around today and their employers.
You may know us at Ginibee® for our Job share expertise and our mission to make successful Job sharing more accessible. Since we set up our mission in 2013, just ahead of the right to request flexible working legislation update, we have focused exclusively on Job-sharing and have analysed, supported, trained and matched a variety of successful Job-share partnerships.
Sara is the founder and CEO of Ginibee and a proud mum of two legends. Absolutely passionate about making successful Job sharing accessible, Sara set Ginibee up with the sole mission of "making successful Job sharing accessible" and has specialised in optimising and similifying the process to create successful Job shares since 2013 and in doing so has created a unique into a purpose-built platform, to accelerate the creation of Talent Partnerships.