By Tracy Tanner & Blake Howard Norton
We met in grad school—two passionate, goal-oriented students—and worked at Austin Child Guidance Center soon after. Wanting to put our creative juices to use outside of the agency, we partnered to run an afterschool middle school girl’s therapy group. We knew then we had something special. The trust and friendship we developed by collaborating led us to Co-found and Co-direct GT Therapy Group.
We fell into job sharing without ever having heard of it, but now that we’ve job shared our practice, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
In fact, we’ve learned so much from our partnership that it’s inspired us to offer relationship coaching for business partners.
Our job share relationship is right up there with our marriages. No joke! We kid around that we’re actually married to one another more than to our spouses, but it’s what makes this partnership magic. By the way, we bring the laughs and internal jokes you often see in healthy marriages to our partnership and even jest that we’re Amy (Poehler) & Tina (Fey) or Romy & Michelle.
Just as you need to take care of your life partner, you’ve got to do the same with your career partner. While not all job share partners need to be BFFs—dedicating time and energy to building trust, connection, security and authenticity with each other will enrich the experience. The investment in your partnership will make it more sustainable and fulfilling, and it’ll give you both the support you need to rock your part of the job share.
Just as you need to take care of your life partner, you’ve got to do the same with your career partner.
5 ways we put our partner first:
1. Take time to check-in with each other in a meaningful way
We create space for each other’s personal lives and emotional worlds. We take into account what is happening in our personal lives and how our own emotional well-being might impact our capacity, internal resources, and productivity in our business. This could mean a change in our husband’s work schedules, a family struck by one of the zillion bugs going around at daycare, or a scheduled vacation.
We make room to bring our real selves to work. We know that inviting this vulnerability in is what allows us to feel seen and valued. Clearing the air means we can focus on the important tasks at hand, rather than putting up a front and trying to barrel through the work at hand, less effectively.
2. Give 100% to the partnership and the work
This doesn’t mean that we’re “on” all the time. It does mean that we show up for one another other and the work itself. We support each other and are accountable to give our best to our partner, clients, and the practice.
We don’t try to divide the work 50/50—which would only get us stuck in the scarcity mindset of tallying and comparing—but focus on working toward our strengths in some areas while synergizing to improve our practice in others. By consistently showing up in this way, we’ve built trust and safety freeing us to take a step back, outsource, or shift responsibilities. Then, the other partner can willingly step in with love.
3. Take one for the team
We are generous with each other in our willingness to take on responsibility for tasks that neither one of us loves. If we’re being real, every business or job has some of these areas!
For example, most businesses must allocate time toward writing newsletters and online content. Tracy often lays out topic ideas and the preliminary draft, then Blake sweeps in for the final edit with language that resonates with our audience.
4. Don’t let it fester, talk about it
If something has been nagging at us, we don’t hold it in and let it fester. Rather, we deem it our individual responsibility to evaluate where the frustration might be coming from, what role we may play in it, and what we’d like from our partner in order to change it.
Owning that role and communicating the problem to each other is essential. We owe this to ourselves and each other, as well as our therapists and clients. Good communication = love + directness. We don’t wait to talk until we’re burning in resentment. Little things can slide, but the stuff that gets us in our feels is a signal it’s time to talk. Conflict resolution makes your partnership stronger.
5. Schedule time for fun, self-care and play
We spend time together—sometimes working, sometimes playing, but always having fun. We even have work meetings on the treadmill or before yoga class at the YMCA. We treat ourselves to working breakfasts with great coffee. And we schedule quarterly treats like massages or dinner out with our families or colleagues who we feel lucky enough to consider dear friends. All work and no play makes for a very dull job share indeed! Find ways to laugh, let loose, live and love.
This article kicks off a series of how to build and maintain a successful job share business partnership by GT Therapy Group Co-founders & Co-directors Tracy Tanner & Blake Howard Norton.
Musings featuring or written by Tracy Tanner & Blake Howard Norton:
Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing in business as a competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. Join the #JobshareRevolution here –– events, resources, and relevant content to empower you in work and life! For more info, email@example.com.