Gemini3 offers coaching to job share partners and can see the importance of early planning and regular reviews of the partnership. In this three part article, Gemini3 will be following new partners Caroline Jackson and Tammy Grillo from Unilever on their job share journey. The new job share team started working together one month ago sharing a strategic category sales manager role. We asked them how they are doing in this first stage of the journey. We will then catch-up again at 3 months and 9 months to see the evolution and any learnings they would like to share.

When did you start job sharing and why?

We both have young children (6 children between us 19, 5, 3, 2, 1 year old & 8 months!), so we wanted to work part time. This would allow us to balance our needs. Or try to! We could have time with our kids while getting back in to the workforce to progress our careers and challenge ourselves.

We wanted to ensure we were coming back into a role that enabled us to continue to focus on our career progression journey and job sharing enabled that.

We have tried Part Time working previously with the same company and found that we often did a full time job in 3 days. A job share seemed like the perfect balance so we could perform our roles and also have family time.

Was it difficult to get approval for job share? Did you have to put together a business case and if so what were the things you covered?

The business was extremely supportive of us coming back to work in a job share capacity so it was relatively easy. Unilever is very progressive in this space and supportive of working mothers returning to the work force.

Why do you think your job share got approved?

The business focuses on enabling people to work on their terms. Our experience, ability and the belief that we would be able to make the role work helped. The role we are doing is an ‘internal’ facing role. Our intention is to show the business that any role can be job share, with the right people, and be able to move to a different role from there, whether it be internally focused or customer facing.

What tough conversations do you think are important to have right at the beginning?

We are fortunate as we are very good friends and have already worked together for 12 years in similar roles. Our working style is very complimentary as well as our core values. This is very important. Trust is the key to success for a job share role and we already have that but it was key to align on ways of working, especially on simple (but important) things like handover notes. Agreement that we would be open and honest, making sure we have the conversations and not let things fester. We also developed a 1, 3 & 5 year plan so we know what our career and personal ambitions are and how we deliver these together.

What job share model are you? (Twin, Island, Vertical, Unicorn): Twin, sharing all responsibilities and KPIs of the role

How did you meet and how did you know you would be a good fit?

We have been friends for a long time (12 years) and worked together on and off during that time. What we recognised is that having similar core values is important in job sharing, especially with the Twin model. We have similar values and working styles so we knew it would be a good fit. Trust is also the key to a good job share. Having each other’s back and being seen by the people you work with as 1 person.

Tell us about your first week as a job share?

Lots of inductions and writing handover notes. Given it was our first-time writing handover notes it took hours! We quickly learnt which tools were available to help make our lives easier. For example using One Note and sharing a file so our meeting notes and handover notes are continuously updated and are there for us to refer back to at any time. Sharing diaries. Aligning our To Do lists and using Tasks in outlook calendar. Everyone has their own way but we found if we aligned our ways of working (Calendars, To Do Lists, Hand Over Notes) it was much more efficient.

We also undertook a new LSI and ways of working study. Interestingly we have both changed significantly since having children and returning to work. A move from more humanistic green to red action orientated – the let’s just get stuff done attitude! We also found things to help each other whether it was challenging processes or just kick starting projects.

What are the first challenges you encountered? How did you react?

Feeling like we hadn’t completed enough work and was letting the other one down. We had a very open conversation on how we were feeling and that addressed it.

Understanding how we use our handover day to our advantage – we learnt that this really depends on the role you do. Ours is a strategic role so actually having a few hours on handover day and working through big projects is amazing. Two heads are better than one!

Ensuring we are consistent with our team and direct report. It’s essential to appear as one to them as they need consistency. Also the energy change through out the week is something we and the teams around us have to adapt to. One comes in on a Monday raring to go and then on a Wednesday the other comes in raring to go. This is great for the business and a productivity perspective but we also need to be mindful of the impact of those around us.

How have you set up your handover process? How long do you have to handover and is it working well so far?

We use OneNote as our handover tool which we update as we work. We categorise in buckets – Immediate Action, Follow Up and For Info. This is working really well as we tend to update as we work so you don’t get to the end of the 3 days and then spend 3 hours writing handover notes, which is not an effective use of time. We both write very few notes on paper and most go into OneNote straight away so it’s already there. Handover notes involve tweaking and condensing info and pulling out the key urgent actions rather than starting from scratch.

We also have our to do list online in Outlook Tasks, so we can see what we are each working on. We have two hours blocked out on our overlap day to handover however this generally becomes a working session as it’s an opportunity to brainstorm and bounce things off each other.

We will catch-up with you again in 3 months, what do you hope will have changed?

In 3 months we will ask for 360 feedback from our teams to ensure its working for the business as well as us and adapt where necessary. So far it seems to be working well for us and our families. No dramas yet! In 3 months we will be fully out of handover/induction phase and fully embedded in the business.