Is it the next big thing?

Posts tagged ‘Professional Development’

Is the term Parental Leave in need of a rebrand?

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One of the key challenges employers face in business is when valued employees take what is currently referred to as “time out” or “parental leave” from their professional career. In many cases it’s treated as a “taboo” with most being conscious of having a gap on their CV that may be viewed as a career break and is almost never discussed in a business context. Yet going on a course to develop our skills is seen as a great move, something which is highly valued by employees and employers alike.

Let’s turn this on its head!

Amongst the top reasons why parenting is so challenging, tiring and fulfilling are the fact that it’s constant and involves learning and immediately applying new skills (many of which you may not consider your strength (in a business context)) “on the job”. Imagine that, your company sends you on a sales course that is never going to end, there is no break from it, you can’t prepare, delegate or fast track. Irrespective of how well you take to it, your new skills will inform the development of new life coming into the world and as such will have consequences for you to deal with. A scary thought.

Yes, there are the obvious “time management”, “patience” and “productivity” skills, which are developed as a necessary requirement of Parenting, but we could all do with honing these irrespective of our specialism. What about the other areas that not everyone considers to be their strength? and in a professional environment some would run a mile from, but in developing as a parent you have no choice but to learn and apply, like:

Sales – skills required on a daily basis to parent a child from the age of 1-2 years old. What are the closing techniques that will successfully persuade your toddler (or older) to choose to process all of the functions that enable them to independently eat their meal, for example, or let you put on their coat, or co-operate in any way?

Performance Management – skills required on a daily basis to parent a child from the age of about 3 years old. What are the key performance indicators of a three year old? How will you measure them and what actions are you looking for as an indication that a reward is due to be awarded or revoked. What method will you use to communicate this and how will you ensure your child understands and is motivated by this process?

Conflict Management – required to parent children from the age of about 2-3 years old. How will you resolve and help your child to resolve conflict with another? How will you deliver news to your child that they don’t want to hear in a constructive way?

Supplier Management – which supplier will you select for your child’s education/ other skills development? What criteria will you use to select and how will you monitor whether it is being successfully delivered? What action will you take if it isn’t being delivered?

Add to that an array of other skills, like Networking, Leading, Events Management, Catering, Confidence Coach, the list goes on. (We can see why parenting is so challenging and indeed why many view going back to work as a break! That way we only need to focus on the skills we feel more comfortable with and consider ourselves successful in!)

Why are we not harnessing this phase of self-development more in the workplace?

Parenting could be viewed as a way of learning and developing ourselves, but most don’t view it in this way.  Instead, the application of new skills is simply viewed as a necessary part of getting things done and swept under the carpet by all, as generic “parenting challenges” that make us so tired.

But is everyone actually missing a trick? Could raising awareness of the learning and development experienced by parents be harnessed more by companies? What if companies decided to change how it’s viewed as part of recruitment and learning and development processes?

 Is the term “Parental Leave” in need of a rebrand?

What if the language around parenting was to change?

What if instead of “parental leave” businesses decided to offer a “parenting skills development” sabbatical and use the “keep in touch” days as an opportunity to review how to apply parenting skills in their profession?

What if, for candidates that are also parents, a portion of their CV and interview process were to be spent exploring rather than avoiding their parenting experience and reflecting on how it has ADDED TO their portfolio of skills in the workplace? Would a different, more respected approach from society create an energy shift that would fill us up rather than drain us of confidence and energy?

Would a rebrand like this, along with an accessible portfolio of truly part-time (3-day a week) working strategies like Jobsharing, reduce key recruitment and diversity challenges?  It’s certainly food for thought.  Perhaps you know of organisations that have already turned it on its head? I’d love to hear your views.

If you’d like to find out more about successful family friendly strategies and support for those who choose parenting and career, please check out http://www.ginibee.com

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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

Why are Jobsharers More Productive and Less Stressed?

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One of the over arching benefits of successful Jobsharing that seems to come through from senior level Jobsharers is the benefit of the supportive nature of their partnership.  By being aware of and respecting each others’ motivations and strengths, as well as liking each other, Jobsharers seem to live a very fulfilled life both in terms of their career and their life outside of work.

So what does being in a supportive Jobshare mean and how does it translate in terms of benefits to the individuals and employers?  There are a number of key trends that have come through.

1. Improved Productivity
Senior level Jobsharers, Louise and Katie have been in their role as HR Business Partners for around two years.  Louise says “we have two minds on one role, most of the time we agree but when we disagree it’s good to have that differential and talk about it” and Katie says “when you’re part-time, you naturally have a higher level of productivity because you know you’ve got three days and you want to get a lot done, so employers are getting that double, because you’ve got two people with that mindset”.

2. Reduced Stress
Ruth who as progressed from part-time to Jobsharing in order to progress to a more senior level as Director of Strategy.  She said “I feel less stressed as a Jobsharer, because there’s a proper release valve, in other roles you might vent to your partner or husband at the end of the day, but they’re not in it, so we can really vent to each other and share the challenges, which means it’s not all in your head, and I find that to be really valuable.”

3. Increased Objectivity
Polly says “Jobsharing is really supportive, which means you can take braver decisions faster, because with the best will in the world, your boss, your mentor, etc. isn’t going to be quite as interested and involved as your Jobshare partner.  In particular on management decisions where you might be worried about being too subjective about a matter, when you have both picked up on it you can give clearer, stronger, more objective messages.”

These are just some of the significant benefits offered by successful senior level Jobsharing which also double up as reasons why Jobsharers are more productive and less stressed.  If you’d like to know more about how Jobsharing can work for you and/or your organisation you can register interest at http://www.ginibee.com/contact-us.html

Jobsharing Top Tip #1: Know Yourself

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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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