We met again with Caroline Jackson and Tammy Grillo from Unilever who have now been job sharing for over 3 months. They shared their early learning from their first experience job sharing a new strategic role. We will have a final catch-up at the end of the year to see how their partnership has evolved.

It’s already been over 3 months since you started job sharing. How are you doing and what has changed in 3 months?

Lots! 3 months ago our plan was to be out of the handover/induction phase and fully embedded in the business driving the beverages category, seeking 360 feedback and adapting where necessary. Well, one thing we asked for was a challenge and we certainly have had that. Unilever has gone through a business restructure which led us to share a new strategic role in an area of the business we are very passionate about and have spent most of our careers.

We both returned to work as a job share to enable us to have work/life balance. To be able to thrive in our careers but also spend quality time with our children. We relish a challenge and Unilever certainly delivered. This has meant we are back in ‘the first 30 days’ of listening & learning. In a new business structure and a great new team.

Have you done an evaluation of your partnership? What has been the feedback have you received so far?

We haven’t completed a formal evaluation as we will do this in 3 months of being in the new role. However informal feedback has been really positive & encouraging. Comments like ‘ I can’t remember who I’ve told what to but it all gets done’ is great.  The new team have also endearingly starting calling us ‘Cammy’ so clearly we are seen as one!

Have you encountered new challenges?

The key challenge has been coping with significant change. Communication has been key both personally & professionally. The fact we have been great friends for along time has definitely helped here but we had to have a few tough conversations together to ensure our 1,3,5 years plans remained the same with the change that was around us.

Did you find new benefits to your arrangements?

Absolutely. Caroline has worked part time previously between number 1 & 2 child and it was a challenge. Limiting a role to 3 days is hard and you often find you are doing a full time role in 3 days. A job share means there is always someone working and there for the team. Someone driving things forward. We have found that we are extremely productive – the not wanted to let each other down continues. Plus it also means you have to be very organised and we continue to handover using One Note and limit the amount of written notes we have. All our notes in One Notes are connected and so are our Tasks in Outlook.

Has your handover process evolved or changed?

We are getting more time efficient with this as have learnt to use One Note for everything – meeting minutes, hand over notes etc. We update the handover notes as we go and categorise into buckets – Immediate Action, Follow Up, For Info & People. This works really well and we often call each other to chat through things as well. We initially had 2 hours blocked out in the diary on a Wed (cross over day) but have found we can’t dedicate that time to this. Between the handover notes and a coffee chat at work we are managing to operate well without this. We prefer to spend the time together in more strategic meetings ie long term planning. Its great to bounce ideas off each other.

Anything you wish you knew at the beginning?

A positive experience so far but as always in business you have to be thick skinned even in a progressive business as Unilever. Some people don’t understand job share so it’s our role to show them it absolutely works through delivering results.

You had a coaching session with Gemini3, what advice or information you found the most useful?

Definitely the profile matching. We had assumed we could make it work as we are great friends but hadn’t really reflected on the ‘why’ and also our strengths and watch outs. It was good to take the time out to recognise where we are aligned and also areas we are different. It was also great to hear about Job Share being successful elsewhere at all levels of organisations. Very inspiring.

We will see you again in 6 months’ time. What would you like to see different?

Little change! and be fully embedded in our new roles. The teams all set up, a great culture starting to emerge and getting wins on the board. Plus an improved work/life balance as this is an area we have struggled with over the last month. Our aim is to regroup in a months’ time when the new business is embedded, people are all working in their new roles and we can set ourselves goals and boundaries ie no weekend working etc.