why you need to teach stakeholders
As companies prioritize employee well-being, job sharing—a practice where two individuals share the responsibilities of one full-time role—is on the rise. Due to its rarity, job sharers often need to teach stakeholders to work with their job share as they onramp into their arrangement.
Though simple in practice, job sharing can seem complex to stakeholders. They may feel unsure of who to communicate with or who will be accountable. Successful job sharers learn how to manage stakeholder concerns, resistance, or even the Triangle Principle (where a stakeholder pits one partner against the other).
Understand that it is human nature to push back against an unfamiliar idea. It’s not personal and can be minimized, if not eliminated altogether when addressed early and consistently. Long-time job sharers Gabriela Mercado and Gabriela Proctor (aka GX2) share 7 ways they teach stakeholders to work with their job share with Work Muse.
be proactive with stakeholders and available for one another
Work Muse: How do you teach those you work with how to work with your job share?
Gabriela M: We know every piece of our business. We know each other so well that we can’t be played. I’ll handle (the Triangle Principle) directly and say, “Let me call the other Gabby because I’m pretty sure they didn’t do this.”
Work Muse: It’s the first week of your job share and a co-worker says, “Your (job share) partner already told me this.” What do you do?
Gabriela M: Be proactive. I go into our sent emails and notes to stay up-to-date. If it’s something important, we will send it to ourselves as well. We’re not shy. We are always available for one another.
clarity and understanding go a long way
Work Muse: You have your first meeting with a new client who’s never worked with a job share. How do you set them at ease?
Gabriela P: There is always a learning curve. It is endless. That is something I would tell new job sharers who are walking in. There is an endless learning curve for the people around you regarding how to work with your job share.
Work Muse: Do you say, “We job share. Here’s our schedule”?
Gabriela P: We do, and then, they’re aware of the schedule, but it doesn’t always click so easily. They’ll keep asking for one person or the other when they call. If Gaby met with them first, they feel like they want to deal with her only. There are some people, some clients and managers, who feel that it’s too weird and are not going to accept it.
treat one another equally and present a united front
Work Muse: How do you set up your team to be treated equally?
Gabriela M: We know the fights that we’re not going to win. If there’s a certain person that would prefer to talk with Gaby, we just let them do it. The beauty of having the same name is that it doesn’t matter.
Work Muse: Do people call you Gaby in the office or GX2?
Work Muse: How do you feel a combined name (like GX2) benefits your job share?
Gabriela M: I think that (creating a shared name) comes from the job share. It’s very important for you to know that you are equals. We make a big effort to reply from the joint email so they (stakeholders) don’t know who is answering.
Gabriela M: Maybe Gaby closed a big deal, but she will never say she closed it. Instead, she’ll say, “‘We’ closed it.” That’s how you train others to treat you as equals. It’s hard because maybe you think, “I kind of want to shine, but no, you must remember, “‘we’ are shining.” Put your ego in check and instead think, “‘We’ shine as a team.”
Especially in our competitive industry, it’s important to present a united front as a team. Be cautious in the beginning. From the beginning, you have to be very strong about your boundaries to make sure you are seen as a unit.
Put your ego in check and instead think, “‘We’ shine as a team.”
spell out how your job share works
Work Muse: What would you say to someone who has a brand new manager?
Gabriela P: We’ve had five or six managers and you have to explain the process to them and give them time, initially, to understand how a job share works. Try to overcommunicate with them as well, and tell them how you work (in your job share). We let them know that if they treat us as one, then they don’t need to double communicate with us. We say, “Here are the days we each work. Here is how we take vacation days. Here’s how our benefits and sick time work.” Lay it out.
Work Muse: Do you think they’re jealous of hearing that?
GX2: Totally! Totally.
Gabriela M: But after they live it for a few months, they love it.
We let them know that if they treat us as one, then they don’t need to double communicate with us.
dispel misconceptions by meeting new stakeholders together
Work Muse: Do you set the bar high so they see you in a different light from the beginning? A new manager can come in with misconceptions.
Gabriela P: At first, they think we’re the lazy ones who don’t show up to work. The part-timers.
Gabriela M: What we try to do is that the first time we see a client, we always try to meet them together. We make exceptions and maybe they can only meet on Friday and it’s not Gaby’s day to work. From the beginning when they see both people, it clarifies the job share.
Gabriela M: Our best compliment is when they don’t know which Gaby they’re talking to. And it happens more often than they think.
Gabriela P: As we say, “A Gaby is always there!”
conserve your energy and take ownership as a team
Work Muse: What would you tell job sharers about working with co-workers who don’t work directly with you.
Gabriela M: We stopped trying. We tell co-workers to go for a job share if they are interested. If someone makes a petty comment, we don’t give it any weight.
Gabriela P: Sometimes it’s honest.
Work Muse: How can you help them?
Gabriela P: I always say, “I don’t think that happened, but I might be wrong. Let me check with (Gaby) and I’ll get back to you.” And if there was a last-minute change I wasn’t aware of, we apologize and own it.
As we say, “A Gaby is always there!”
over-communicate to help others understand your job share
Work Muse: Do you think your stakeholders see a difference between you and full-time employees?
Gabriela P: I guess it goes back to knowing specific situations. When our company merged with television versus just radio and they hadn’t worked with job sharers yet, It took them (new stakeholders) a while to understand that we are informed of every piece of the business.
Gabriela M: I think that’s it. For them (new stakeholders) to understand that we communicate, sometimes in real-time. We over-communicate all of the time.
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This article is part of a series from sales and marketing job share leaders Gabriela Proctor & Gabriela Mercado (aka GX2)
Musings featuring or written by Gabriela Proctor & Gabriela Mercado:
- This Job Share SuperTeam Runs Triathlons Together
- We’re BFFs But You Don’t Have to Be: How to Find Your Job Share Partner
- 8 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Asking to Job Share
Melissa Nicholson job shared for nearly a decade and is the Founder & CEO of Work Muse. Work Muse drives the adoption of job sharing in business as a source of competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. Join the #JobshareRevolution here.