8 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Asking to Job Share

This interview is part of  our series with SuperTeam Gabriela Mendez & Gabriela Proctor (aka GX2), a decade-plus former Univision job share team and current Co-CEOs of GX2 Media.


Job share team Gabriela Mendez & Gabriela Proctor

Gabriela Mendez & Gabriela Proctor

Don’t let doubt stand in your way

Work Muse: A lot of people who want to job share are afraid to ask. What gave you the hutzpa to present your job share?

Gabriela Proctor: The thing is, at first we thought it was too good to be true and had doubts too. We once asked a pregnant coworker, “What about job sharing?” but we could see she thought, “Nah, it’s too good to be true,” or maybe, “We already have one job share in our group, maybe two aren’t allowed.”

Again and again, we’ve seen people who’ve doubted they could job share and think working this way is an exception versus part of a new culture. 

Visualize your job share

Work Muse: How can we help people get over their doubt?

Gabriela Mendez: We tell everyone interested, “This can happen! You have to visualize job sharing and know it’s possible.” Because that’s the hardest part — to know in your heart job sharing is possible. It’s not that you don’t feel valuable, but rather, you’re a little scared about the income because you don’t want to lose the money, right?

Work Muse: That’s one fear. Did your coworkers see how well your team did?

Gabriela M: Oh, we told them! We recuperated the lost income (from job sharing) in two months or something ridiculous like that. In our case, it was possible because we worked on commission. We realize this may be difficult in other jobs. That’s why it’s important to understand and weigh the cost going in.

Work Muse: Did you know over 70% of job sharers who apply are promoted? So even if a person is taking a pay cut to job share in a salaried position, it’s possible to advance their career job sharing.

Again and again, we’ve seen people who’ve doubted they could job share and think working this way is an exception versus part of a new culture. 

Look for job share examples to model

GX2: Mm-hmm. 

Gabriela M: We tell them, “Look at us! We’ve been job sharing for a decade now, so it’s possible.” I think the real eye-opener for us was having a job share that we could model. We could see that it was possible. That’s the only way I knew job sharing existed; I saw another job share in practice every day.

Work Muse: Who was the job share you worked with?

Gabriela M: Paige and Heather!

Be ready for “No’s” before a “Yes”

Gabriela P: When Gaby said, “This is going on at B&P Media (her former company), let’s present it to our company,” I was hesitant because I hadn’t seen a job share before. And of course, we had many managers say “no” before one said “yes.” So you will likely encounter “no’s” before you find a manager open to your job share. But it is possible, you just have to find the right partner to share your job with.

Gabriela M: One manager said “no” then, luckily, there was a change in management, and we had a new manager familiar with the concept who’d worked in a market with job share teams.

Gabriela P: He empowered us to do it. When we approached him, he said, “OK, let’s figure out how to do this.” He had the knowledge thankfully because our company didn’t. They didn’t have a policy so we were building the plane as we flew it. 

act “as if” not job sharing is a deal-breaker

Work Muse: Did you face repercussions after unsuccessfully asking to job share?

Gabriela P:  No, not really.

Gabriela M: You know what I think? It got to the point that when we presented our job share, we were very sure of the arrangement. We projected “We need this,” and that not getting to job share simply wasn’t an option. It was like, “This is what we need in order to stay.”

Gabriela P:  Our lives had changed because Gaby just had her second child and I was pregnant with my third, so we were very certain we wanted to job share.

Gabriela M: We’d been exploring the idea for like three years.

We tell everyone interested, “This can happen! You have to visualize job sharing and know it’s possible.”

companies compete for talent who shop

Gabriela M: At the time, we worked at different companies so we were shopping to see which one would approve the job share. I ended up moving to Univision and we put our plan in place. First, they hired me and then, we waited because I was five months pregnant. Can you imagine if I’d said, “I’m pregnant, hire me, and once I have the baby, I want to job share.” So we waited until I came back from parental leave.

Gabriela P: But Gaby did cover me when I was on parental leave because I was six months pregnant when we started job sharing.

Work Muse: That’s such a great way to onramp a job share. Your partner can learn the day-to-day and form stakeholder relationships before you begin working in tandem! Do you think your coworker was deterred from pursuing a job share to avoid rejection? 

Gabriela P: Maybe or finding the right partner. It’s not like you can just bring anyone into your marriage. She’s a hustler and worked hard to get where she was, and I get it. We were the same way back then. But once you start planning a family, you want more balance. It’s a hard thing to trust another person…

Gabriela Mendez: with your livelihood.

know your worth and set boundaries

Work Muse: What do you think holds people back most from job sharing?

Gabriela P: I don’t think it’s fear of a demotion or a less challenging job. I honestly think there’s still a culture that flexible jobs are perceived as less than. Like you are not a hustler. But honestly, it’s not just from management but also employees thinking that if you’re not sending emails at two in the morning, you’re not productive.

Work Muse: Boundaries. 

Gabriela P: The idea that you have to be working all of the time. I believe we put more pressure on ourselves than companies do and everybody’s doing the same thing, so we create an unsustainable environment.

Work Muse: Yes! Job sharing naturally sets work boundaries but it’s important for partners to respect one another’s. Do you think boundaries should be set from the top down?

Gabriela P: I think everybody is responsible for it.

Gabriela M: Everybody. 

Gabriela P: It’s a two-way street. It would help if leadership defined boundaries but at the same time, we work in a very competitive environment and we are competitive people, so we respond to those emails and texts. It becomes a snowball.

don’t let a change in income deter you

Work Muse: What do you think is the biggest holdup from pursuing a job share?

Gabriela M: I think income. Big time. Not being promoted. In our company, I don’t think they would have considered a job share sales manager or general manager.

Gabriela P: We knew we wanted to stay in sales when we started job sharing. But we’ve had managers who’ve expressed interest and we’ve told them, “Ask for it!”

Work Muse: Why do many would-be job sharers abandon their job share dream?

Gabriela M: They don’t know where to even start. Maybe they want to do it but don’t know with whom. Or the hold-up is that they’ve worked years to build their career, and then suddenly they’re going to bring someone into their job. Maybe they don’t see the true value of the difference that job sharing can make in their lives.

4 steps for serious future job sharers

Work Muse: What steps should those serious about job sharing take?

research and find examples

Gabriela P: I would say research. Honestly, when we first started, we were just looking for examples. Now that we job share, we see more and more examples. And if we’d had Work Muse, I would have asked to do it way earlier.

Don’t Wait to go for your job share

Don’t wait! But also inform yourself. Be prepared when you present and ask for your job share. When we asked for our job share, we thought, “If we don’t get it, we’re going to quit.” But we would never have said that to our company.

present the business case

Present your plan. It’s easier for your manager to approve your job share when you present the business case.

Work Muse: Your proposal serves a dual purpose; you’ll design your job share while creating a guide for your partnership.

Gabriela M: By doing your homework, you’re making it easy for your manager to say, “Yes.”

Work Muse: Does presenting a plan change the perception of job sharing?

Gabriela M: Yes, you and your job share bring value to the company and they’d rather not lose your talent to a flexible company. Plus, it takes money and years to train a replacement.

Gabriela P: In the job environment now, job sharers are in a good position to ask because employers want to support working parents, fight burnout, and retain talent.

Work Muse: Not only do employers buy long-time loyalty but if one job sharer leaves, the remaining partner helps recruit their replacement saving expensive replacement costs.

know your why

Gabriela M: My advice would be to have perfect clarity for why you want to share your job. You need to really have a clear vision of how your life is going to be better by job sharing, even if you have less income. If you have enough reasons to justify this change in your life, then it will be so much easier for you to present it to your manager because it’s so clear for you! You know the values that match your life.

Work Muse: And know your partner can have very different reasons from you but appreciating one another’s “why” is what matters more.

GX2: Exactly.

 

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This article is part of a series from sales and marketing job share leaders Gabriela Proctor & Gabriela Mendez.

Musings featuring or written by Gabriela Proctor & Gabriela Mendez:

 


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.

 

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