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Archive for the ‘Jobsharing Top Tips’ Category

Jobsharing In Chemistry: Lessons learned

Reflecting with our candidates over their experience returning to a career in Chemistry through a pioneering Jobshare 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 Jobsharing, whatever your specialism.

“Jobsharing has been the ideal solution for us both, it has enabled us to return to the responsibility and potential of our full-time careers without compromising time with our family”.  

Jane and Helen both used a Jobshare solution as a phased return to full-time employment, taking on the responsibility and potential of a full-time career without compromising family time, or needing their employer to scale down a role.

As Associate Medicinal Chemist for a Contract Research Company, their role entailed applying their expertise in Chemistry to develop new compounds.  This involves everything from researching effective routes, running chemical reactions, synthesising new compounds, and everything in between including ensuring the lab is tidy and there isn’t an empty fume hood!.  Working 2.5 days each, with a half day overlap on the Wednesday, they offered a 1FTE partnership to their employer for a 6 month contract.

At the end of their contract, they were kind enough to take time to reflect on their experience and share how they have benefitted and what they have learned.

What was your first day like?

We both went in together for the induction and then Jane came in on the Tuesday and was straight into the lab and I started the next day.”

Jane: “I wanted as much as I could for people to only have to explain once to us and actually that was a good thing as well because I’d learn once from someone and then again by teaching it to Helen and vice versa.

Helen: “For me, I wanted us to hit the ground running and for people to look at us favourably, so wanted to make sure we got it right first time with learning about the protocol and bits of kit.”

Has it been successful?

Yes it has been a success, on various levels. For us, it’s got us back in a gentler way, we wanted to fulfil their (employer’s) criteria and get back into it and both work part-time.”

“As well as the new compounds we have created, we have received positive feedback like “you’ve tried lots of different things in this area”, “you’ve achieved lots”, “you’ve made lots of compounds and answered lots of questions that needed answering”, which makes me feel like it’s been a positive experience all round.”

What were the benefits?

it is the perfect balance of career and family” – After seven years parenting, Helen could still spend time with her children around homework and clubs and Jane could spend time with her pre-schoolers and get used to new childcare arrangements.

Jobsharing makes me more focussed”. I find the pressure is on a Tuesday afternoon when I know Helen is coming in on Wednesday, I want to show her what I’ve done on Monday and Tuesday and show progress.”  Having a mid-week handover means that Jobsharers are inherently accountable to their Jobshare partner for progress they have achieved on their days, which further boosts productivity.

our employer got two brains on each project whilst only paying for one, because you don’t stop thinking about it on your days off”

We made around 25 new compounds in 6 months” – it’s always difficult to pin this as an indicator of productivity due to the unpredictable nature of research and the varying complexity of compounds, but it’s nevertheless a sign that good progress was made by the partnership.

What are the lessons learned?

Communication is key – “if one is doing the washing up all the time, there’s a certain fairness to making sure it’s an equal share (of all elements of the role), also a lot of the presentations have been with Jane and there’s a certain degree of when you start to realise that somethings happening in such a way saying “are you alright with this?, rather than letting something fester.”  Accepting the success of the partnership as a reflection of your own success is crucial and tight communication with each other is key to this.

Don’t duplicate – “we have ended up with two lab books and separate filing systems, which would mean that on our working days we were walking around with 2 lab books. Instead we could simply share a drawer and a lab book, with the rule that one of us writes up progress using even pages and the other always on odd”.

Inform stakeholders how the Jobshare works – “colleagues would treat us like we were part-time and be reluctant to ask us to do certain duties saying “are you okay to do this lab tidy because I know you’re only in 2.5 days?” – when actually one of us is in all week so we have just as much time as an FTE.”  Introducing the Jobshare to stakeholders at the outset is a fundamental step towards optimising the benefits.

Share targets – “Have common targets and see yourself as sharing the role. At the start we were set separate targets which meant that I put a reaction on on a Friday and by the time I got in the following Wednesday it had been going too long and had biodegraded.”  After about a month, it became quite different as they both focussed on the same compounds and so could ask each other to work up a reaction that one had started; it became a true Jobshare and a lot easier to work with.

Thank you to Jane and Helen for sharing their insights with us, we covered a lot more in our discussion too so please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

Jobshare Top Tip #5: Practice Humility

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Often in today’s workplace, being humble can be seen as a weakness when in fact, entirely the opposite is true and crucial to success as a Jobsharer. Being aware of our limitations, accepting imperfections and recognising our potential when combined with another is an incredible strength! It takes courage to talk through our “mistakes” but only through creating this type of dialogue with a Jobshare (or any) partner can you create a truly fulfilling experience.

There’s no room for ego

Practicing humility as a Jobsharer requires a shift in perspective. Respect and commitment of successful Jobsharers is focussed on doing what’s best for the role (and inherently, the Partnership), as opposed to themselves as individuals.

“Any successes we had were not personal, they were as a result of the Jobshare” (Maggy Pigott CBE, a Jobsharer of 23 years with the Civil Service, 5 of which were at CEO level)

There really is no room for ego, if a task is done well, it doesn’t matter which Jobsharer does the presentation/ takes the call /is present at the meeting, what’s important is that the organisation experiences success as a result of the Partnership working together. Practicing humility through a consultative approach in the interest of the Jobshare not only enables the Partnership (and associated lifestyle) to thrive, it increases productivity and enables the Partnership to make more innovative, brave and strong decisions quickly, because there’s another to consult, to bounce ideas off and to rationalise with.

“It’s wonderful having another half who has exactly the same knowledge of the job as you do, and also exactly the same interest in making that Job a success” (Maggy Pigott CBE)

Of course sharing in the successes of the Jobshare also mean sharing in the mistakes and this leads me to a second important advantage of practicing humility.

Always Present a United Front

Practicing Humility in the interest of successful Jobsharing means developing and presenting a united front irrespective of differences. When differences in approach inevitably emerge it’s crucial to have a strategy for containing and resolving these within the Partnership because commitment to being consistent to everyone outside of the Partnership; colleagues, team, manager, clients, suppliers, is crucial for the development of Trust.

Experienced Jobsharers say that when a difference leads to a disagreement, it’s almost always due to incomplete communication. By engaging in dialogue as opposed to debate when differences emerge, each has the opportunity to explain fully their rationale and challenge with reason. Through approaching this process constructively, a shared way forward can be established and importantly the opportunity to respect and get on board with what’s best for the Partnership to deliver.

Another key success factor is summarised neatly in this salient point made by Maggy Pigott as she reflected on habits that led to the long-term success of their 23 year partnership:

“we always adopted the rule it a rule to never unpick anything the other had done, we would always move forward, even if we would have perhaps dealt with it slightly differently ourselves”

Food for thought

We only need to look at crucial leadership traits to discover how core Jobsharing skills like self-awareness and acceptance, communication and humility can translate into developing successful leaders. In a recent survey by Catalyst Research (which I discovered in the Harvard Business Review), leaders with increased self-awareness and a greater focus on relationships achieve greater commitment and performance from their teams.  So whilst these skills are required and developed through Jobsharing, they are also important characteristics of future leaders.  If you’d like to find out more about Jobsharing and how it could work for you or your organisation, please contact us at www.ginibee.com/contact-us.html

Jobshare Top Tip #4: Act With Integrity

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In last month’s post, I covered the importance of a Jobsharer “deciding to trust” in order for a partnership to thrive. What’s interesting and scary at the same time about this decision, is the condition of having to offer the trust first in order to test the partnership, because taking this leap with someone you don’t necessarily know, is a tricky decision for most of us. This month I’m going to delve further into what makes us able to take this leap of faith and importantly, how we can learn to build trust.

Start With Self-Trust
If you remember my first post on successful Jobsharing, I stressed the importance of taking time to “Know Yourself”, because to create an effective partnership you need to first understand who’s coming into it. The same principle applies to trust. To trust anyone else, first you have to ask yourself honestly “do I trust myself? Am I someone others can trust?” What I’m saying here is the process of building trust with a Jobshare partner, starts even before your very first encounter, it’s with yourself. But it’s not just about words, we can all say “yes I trust myself” but is your behaviour reflective? As Covey quotes:

 “Trust is achieved through action”…. (not words)

Self-trust starts with the small things and to give an example, this year after reading Covey’s book I decided to take a leaf out of it and here’s what I did. Until a few weeks ago, I would always set my alarm before going to bed knowing full well I was going to snooze it in the morning several times before I would actually get out of bed. What’s the point in that? Essentially, I was starting every day by breaking a promise to myself – a behaviour congruent with self-trust would be to set the alarm for 15 minutes later, allow myself the snooze and commit to getting up on the first alarm. So, that’s what I did. I decided to take the small but also significant step of promising myself every night that I would get up when the alarm goes off.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
The fact is, we all judge others by our own standards, because what other benchmark do we have? But if we can’t make and keep commitments to ourselves, it will subconsciously affect our ability to trust others. So if you’re concerned about how you could trust someone else, start with yourself, make and keep a promise to yourself from today, and stick with it. The small things DO count.

Taking this to the next level of “Relationship Trust” involves the same rules. Exploring a potential Jobsharer’s competence may involve a lot of words about experience and motivations. This is all great, but as Covey says

 “what you do has far greater impact than anything you say” (Covey p128)

To act with integrity is vital; talk straight, demonstrate respect, know that little things have a disproportionate impact when building trust. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep and communicate, communicate, communicate; if you say you’ll get back to someone that day, keep to your promise even if it’s to say you can’t meet the deadline. Things you may feel are unimportant are likely to be exactly the opposite when it comes to building trust.  A great read to explore this subject further is Stephen Covey’s book “Speed of Trust”.

 If you’d like to find out more about Jobsharing, how to create a successful partnership or how it could benefit you or your organisation, you can register at http://www.ginibee.com/contact-us or contact me at info@ginibee.com

Jobsharing Top Tip #3: Trust Your Partner

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In my blog post earlier this year I wrote about the importance of Trust in achieving speed in business which feeds into productivity, effectiveness and cost. This is the third trait when it comes to successful Jobsharing, not only in terms of creating a functional partnership but also in realising the advantages of Jobsharing both on a personal and an organisational level.

A common concern is “how can I trust that someone else will do as good a job as I will?”, “how can I trust someone I don’t really know?”. Having Jobshared successfully and unsuccessfully I have experience of this and how it can break down, so I reflected on my own experience and also the experiences of senior level Jobsharers I have come across in my research. To help portray the mindset and successful habits that support this characteristic, I’m going to share with you three crucial quotes I have come across in my research.

It’s a Conscious Decision

“You have to just decide to trust the person because if you don’t it’s just not going to work. It’s a bit like jumping into a swimming pool and you hope it’s full of water, if it’s not going to work you need to know fast” (Polly Payne & Ruth Hannant, Directors of Strategy at Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

This is the underlying mindset of a successful Jobshare partner, also demonstrating the simplicity of the change that needs to happen for Jobsharing to become mainstream; away from suspicion and doubt and towards trust. It’s a conscious decision to trust from the outset made by the Jobsharer and one that won’t be without risk, but will be an informed decision based on whether the benefits outweigh the perceived risk.

Give yourself permission to trust another at work so you can have the work life balance that you need. Only then, will you be able to truly benefit from the Jobshare; your days off really will be days off, you will develop a shared approach and communicate more effectively, you will learn from each other, you will deal will difference constructively.

Demonstrate Trust

Another important quote came from senior level Jobsharer Deborah Bronnert:

“Always be available to your Jobshare partner on your non-working days, never be available to anyone else” (Deborah Bronnert, COO at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and previous Jobsharer)

This is a crucial habit to get into right from the start and certainly one which I believe contributed to the breakdown of my previous work partnership. Ensure a full and complete handover and then trust your partner to deal effectively with any and all outstanding or related actions or conversations. If you take over responsibility on your non-working days, this can be extremely damaging not only for demonstrating and acting with trust towards your partner, but also in terms of setting the precedent for taking the time that this work practice creates for you to focus on other things.

 “Any big decision on one of the other’s days that we haven’t talked about before we will always ring each other. We wouldn’t make a decision that changed the direction of something without consulting the other person” (Polly Payne & Ruth Hannant, Directors of Strategy at Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

This demonstrates the crucial trust and respect needed for a Jobshare arrangement to work, being available for a short consultation phonecall from your Jobshare partner, at your convenience on your non-working day, is very different from opening up a direct line of contact to another work colleague. When working a high profile, senior level role and spending spend quality time on things outside of work is no longer mutually exclusive, being available occasionally to your jobshare partner is not a chore but simply an enabler to this lifestyle.

 

How Can You Help?

If you are interested in learning more about how Jobsharing could help you or your organisation please contact sara.horsfall@ginibee.com or register at www.ginibee.com . If you’d like to help improve our understanding and awareness of perceptions about Jobsharing please take some time to complete this short survey at bit.ly/ginibee_survey

In my next blog I’ll be talking about Acting with Integrity, the next successful habit of a Jobsharer.

 

Jobsharing top tip #2: Appreciate Your Differences

Laughing with Fiona

Effectively adapting to your differences is the key to success or failure in a Jobshare. In my last blog I wrote about the first of five top tips when it comes to successful Jobsharing, the importance of self-awareness to “know yourself” and be mindful of your motivations, as this will come in useful to get the most out of the role. Once you are aware of your own motivations, you need to be aware of those of others around you and in particular, those of your Jobshare partner. When you talk through your motivations with your Jobshare partner, listen out for what you don’t already know, because guess what… we’re all unique with our own experiences preferences and personalities and difference is good.

Awareness and appreciation of our differences means we can effectively bring the benefits of diversity to our role. During my MBA, I studied knowledge creation and what makes us want to share or hoard and my research uncovered two key patterns;

1. Too much similarity actually slows down knowledge creation, why? because we don’t challenge each other’s assumptions enough which can mean that we repeat mistakes or feel disappointed when difference emerges.

2. Too much difference makes it difficult for us to create a shared frame of reference and can create suspicion, which slows knowledge transfer as we hoard our knowledge.

So it’s important to have some common ground to relate to through which you can create shared understanding. This is where the importance of skills overlap and getting to know another comes into play.

Well matched partnerships have enough difference to stimulate creativity, problem solving, and accountability for your actions to another, which improves effectiveness and productivity. Appreciating difference will help to effectively set up a Jobshare role and to successfully exploit each other’s strengths and to learn from each other when you discover an approach that works well.

To find out more about Jobsharing and register to become a Jobshare partner you can sign up today at www.ginibee.com   Equally if your organisation can benefit from Jobsharing, please contact Sara Horsfall at sara.horsfall@ginibee.com

Jobsharing Top Tip #1: Know Yourself

Me holding phone

This is the first of a series of posts looking at the fundamental components required to create a successful Jobshare partnership.

To “Know yourself” might sound a bit cheesy, but it’s true, when creating a shared identity with another, it’s important to delve beyond our skills. Whilst compatible skills are important, they are not fundamental because we can have the same skills as another but be unable to create a shared identity together. In fact, our attitude is more fundamental than our skills, which I touched upon in my previous post “It’s All About Trust”.

So stripping everything back to basics, whilst behavioural profiles are great at modelling our actions in a particular environment, to Jobshare successfully you need to be mindful of what drives each others behaviour, starting with your own.

So, the first and most fundamental piece to understand when considering a Jobshare is self-awareness, take a step back and really reflect on your motivations. If you haven’t yet considered a flexible working option then it might be a useful exercise to simply reflect on how you currently spend your time to at least check that you’re happy it’s right for you by asking yourself:

“How do you spend your time?

What are the 5 things you spend most of your time on?

What are the reasons you spend your time this way?”

If you’re considering a Jobshare then you may have already answered these questions and decided that you need to make a change, so well done!. In this case, to make sure you are going in the right direction, be mindful of: Do you know what you want in your life? Why do you work? What makes you feel good at work?

Once you know this information about yourself you can articulate it to a potential partner and vice versa.   Not only will this help in ensuring a compatible match but further down the line knowing this information and importantly, being mindful of it, will help you to have a fulfilling career and also to manage your interpretation of each others behaviour in the context of what you know about your motivations.

So in a nutshell

To establish an effective partnership, you need to understand who is coming into that relationship and fundamentally, that means understanding yourself. Self-awareness is critical, if you don’t know your own motivations, you can’t conceive how you are different to others. Therefore achieving results by working with others is made more complicated.

In my next post I’ll be exploring the next natural step which is to be aware of difference. We are all different and guess what, it’s a GOOD thing. Tune in next time for more on this.

If you’d like to anonymously help to increase understanding of peoples perceptions of Jobsharing, please complete our short survey at http://www.bit.ly/ginibee_survey .  Finally, if you’d like to explore Jobsharing as a career option with a work life balance, you can register at http://www.ginibee.com .  Until next time.

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