Being in a job share partnership is like any other relationship. It can really be compared to a marriage. As a matter of fact, you may end up spending more time working collaboratively with a job share partner than you do with your own spouse. So, it is very important to make sure that you work at the relationship just like a marriage. Here are some tips to keep it in check.
The two key ingredients to success are communication and compromise.
Communication – Communication – Communication
Obviously, the most important aspect of the relationship is going to be communication. You will need to keep each other informed about everything. Make sure that you set up protocols for how you will keep each other up to date on projects, client contacts, co-worker communication or issues. And make sure to set up specific guidelines for when and how the communication will take place. Will you e-mail each other? Will there be a file set aside where you keep a running list of “to-do” items? What time will you catch up with each other each day or each week? Make sure that you take advantage of any crossover time that is built into your schedule. That time is invaluable and should be used to talk everything out. You don’t want to let little problems become big ones. Nip them in the bud as they come along. Also, make sure to have a pact that you will each listen to one another without becoming defensive. This will help when you have to cover some not so fun topics.
As with any partnership, you are going to have to compromise. Things are not always going to go exactly as you would like them to. As long as you can each bend a little, things should all work out well.
Below are some problems that can really put a damper on your success as a team. All, however, can be fixed with good, honest communication and compromise.
Sharing the Spotlight: Partners in a job share are generally taking care of the responsibilities of one job. As a result, accomplishments will probably be attributed to both of you regardless of who did more or less of the work. This can be hard to adjust to but is necessary. To make it easier, do make sure to give credit where credit is due. If your job share partner has a special skill set that required them to do a complete project, for instance, that is a circumstance where he or she should be recognized for that work. On the other hand, if you are each working on projects, don’t knit pick and expect recognition for each little part that you played. Try to key in on the fact that as a team you are successful. And, as always, if you feel that your partner is stealing your limelight, you need to talk it out and come to an agreement.
Organization: You may be sharing an office with your partner. This can be an issue if you have different work organization styles. If you are likely to leave stacks on your desk at the end of the day while your partner likes a clean, nothing on it look, you will have to work this out. Come to a compromise about how the workspace will be organized, what will be kept where and how the space will be utilized. Again, communication and compromise will be the key. If you are the messier one of the pair, you may need to get a little neater. If you are the clean one, you may need to bend a bit and realize that there may be things out of place when you come into the office. You just need to find a level of disorganization and cleanliness that is tolerable for both. Bottom line is that you will need to stay organized enough to get the job done!
Work Styles: Procrastination vs. Get the Job Done: Everyone has their own unique work style. Some like to get things done the second they hit their desk, while others would rather let things pile up. This can cause problems if you are in a job share with someone who has a very different style. Again, it will be important to discuss this and come up with a compromise. If one partner is uncomfortable with finishing a presentation within an hour of having to give it while the other is fine working down to the wire, this will need to be worked out ahead of time. Maybe make a promise that projects will be done with 2 hours to spare if at all possible. Or, maybe you could agree to getting things done a day in advance of a deadline. You will each need to communicate your feelings and come to a comfortable resolution.
Ambition: Job Partners may have different ambitions when it comes to looking for promotions or additional responsibilities. Again, this is something that should be discussed and negotiated up front. If you are a real go-getter, it will be tough sitting on the sidelines not jumping at opportunities. Set some guidelines for how you will handle these situations. And if something comes up, be prepared to discuss your wishes openly.
Sharing the Load: You will want to make sure that each partner is doing his or her share of the work. If one partner is feeling that they are taking the brunt of the responsibility, the partnership will not work well. Make sure to be open about your feelings and have specific examples. Each partner should look at the overall picture, however. There may be times when one partner is not as productive or when he or she is not as effective with a specific project. If this phenomenon is short-lived, and the partner picks up the slack in other projects or during other times, then there is nothing to worry about. You will need to look long term – just as you do in a marriage. Things will not be even every day or every week. Just make sure that each is doing a fair share over the long haul.
Schedule: Family priorities or work initiatives can change over time. Or perhaps the schedule that was initially negotiated will stop working well. It will be important for the partners to discuss alternatives to find a solution that maintains the level of performance by the partners while meeting the individual needs. And once again, open and honest communication will be important. Try to be flexible to meet the needs of everyone.
Maintaining a successful job share partnership is not easy, but it can be so worth it! Keep the lines of communication open and be willing to compromise and you will be on your way to more life balance and great career success!