Getting a promotion in a job share can be tricky for several reasons. Although job sharing has been around since the ’70s, it’s remained rare. While 19% of companies allow some employees to job share, less than 1% working flexibly actually job share. Moreover, how do job sharers who prefer to stay under the radar to protect their arrangements, rise through the ranks winning promotion together?
Career Partners Beth & Angela
Beth Malmin and Angela Detviler hit my radar from their Linked In profiles. They were doing something unheard of: promoting their job share as a competitive advantage.
While an unbelievable number of job sharers 71% are promoted as a team, only 45% apply. Job share teams who take pride in and promote the benefits their arrangement brings to an employer (increased productivity, engagement, and better results ) are poised for promotion in a job share or even approval at a new organization.
I knew right away that I wanted to interview them.
The two met working at Target corporate in Minneapolis as the first of two leadership job share teams among 30 across the corporate campus. They led the Organizational Performance Improvement Team comprised of 9 consultants responsible for consulting, training, content development, and training facilitation.
How angela & beth started job sharing
Angela: Beth grew up in HR consulting, I was more of an HR generalist. Learning and development are where our paths crossed. We’d both been talking to our leaders (about job sharing). I moved into Beth’s role and together, we blew up that team in a really good way.
Each worked three days a week with two days of overlap. The duo both had Fridays off but, remained on-call by phone. They were interchangeable in day-to-day operations with weekly one-on-one meetings and monthly individual development meetings with members of their team.
what surprised them most about job sharing
Work Muse: What surprised you the most about job sharing?
Angela: Three things:
- How much we communicate every day about work and personal life. We never want to be caught off guard, so we talk a lot.
- Before I job shared, I thought of two people super similar in capabilities and skills. We were partnered through a project and worked really well together; we had different skill sets but figured out how to leverage those.
- We are much better as a combined team than we ever were by ourselves.
Beth: What we found is that when you’re in a job share, you are co-accountable to the results, but there is no relationship like it. Angela gives so much because her success is dependent on mine and vice versa.
I moved into Beth’s role and together, we blew up that team in a really good way.
Angela: Beth and I think of each other as career partners. We’ve moved through three roles together and we don’t have any intention of stopping. Today, we can both confidently tell you that we will move job to job together because we’ve found a partnership that works. We’ve branded ourselves as not only being a good job share team but, when you hire one of us, you get both – we are career partners. We move together wherever our career takes us.
how they primed their job share for promotion
Beth: And, our career has led us to start a business together, B&A Consulting Partners.
Beth and Angela led their team at Target so successfully, that they were promoted as a job share before deciding to begin their own consulting business in 2015.
Angela: We worked really hard. Promotion at Target was really difficult; we were going for a role with a bonus. We showed the breadth of work and why it required both partners for the expanded scope of work.
Beth: When we hear, “You’re in a job share, we would love to work part-time.” or “I just want to spend more time with my kids”, it makes us cringe.
Angela: That’s not the story you want to lead with. Think about what’s in it for the company and how that role is going to benefit from job sharing.
Beth: Our goal being in a job share is to make a significant contribution to an organization, which is why we don’t work part-time, we job share. We strive to work on the most important work of an organization.
John Higgins, Sr. HR director – healtheast
they applied for a new role as a job share with a former colleague
Higgins: Angela worked in an HR team I worked with at Target. I was looking for an Operations Manager at HealthEast, and she contacted me to ask if I would consider a job share for the role. I found the two-for-one opportunity intriguing, energized by how the strengths of these two combined, could create much more than what you could get out of an individual player in that same job.
Higgins approached his VP about hiring Angela and Beth but was told the company didn’t have job shares and the timing wasn’t right. He didn’t forget about the team though.
they positioned the job share as a proof of concept opportunity
Higgins: We began doing some major bodies of project work – big, hairy pieces that I needed some really great project management skills for. A lightbulb went off and I said, “I wonder if there’s a proof of concept opportunity?”
I reached back out to Angela to talk about working on the nine-month project as a contractor. In a week, Beth and Angela interviewed again with four top leaders at HealthEast and wowed everyone.
Beth and I think of each other as career partners. We’ve moved through three roles together and we don’t have any intention of stopping.
the benefits of working with a job share
Work Muse: What was it like working with a job share?
Higgins: It’s really hard to talk about them separately. It was remarkable how they leveraged their strengths and channeled one other. Beth is strong on the IQ side – data, facts, analytics – and Angela’s more in tune with the EQ side of the equation. Those little nuances make a difference. What these guys did and the timeframe they did it in, the way that they brought people along and got them energized about delivering the outcomes we were looking for, is second to none. They brought out the best in me and the best in a lot of things here at HealthEast.
what managers of job shares can learn and should know
Work Muse: What could have been improved and what did you learn?
Higgins: I look at myself. I suspect I could have been a better leader in terms of developing them individually. They were very explicit about how they communicated and set me up for success to lead them. My sense as a leader of a job share team is that you net so much more. You pay 1.2 FTE but you get better than a 2.0. It’s an incredible ROI, and it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. The work product is much higher quality, and it’s the simple concept of two brains are better than one.
That said, it’s got to be the right partnership. Whether hiring from outside or internally, if the job share partners are not committed to each other and the success of how it works, it’s only a matter of time before it crashes and burns. You have to make sure that people are getting into it for the right reasons and dig into why they want to work with one another and how will that will help the organization. If that can’t be articulated, pause and send that group back to spend time together to figure out how it will be a successful partnership.
They brought out the best in me and the best in a lot of things here at HealthEast.
what two minds in one job can achieve
Work Muse: What were the results of Beth and Angela’s project?
Higgins: We’re now live on our new technology platform, and quite frankly, these two big pieces of work were critical to being able to turn the corner on the effectiveness and efficiency of this particular function at HealthEast. It got so much notoriety. I mean, these two became known by our Organizational Sensei. We’re a Lean management philosophy company and look at ways to re-imagine the way we do work. For the first time ever, they removed a priority process from a list, reversed course and said “Now we’ve got this working the right way. The Executive Leadership Team no longer needs to pay you special attention.”
Work Muse: What made it work so well?
Higgins: When we went through the reflection, a big piece was because I had this incredible project management duo that helped drive it – we had a dedicated project job share knock out this amount of work in an exceptionally short amount of time. They’ve done a great job to set HealthEast up for much better success from a recruiting perspective for years to come.
For the first time ever, they removed a priority process and said “Now that we’ve got this working the right way, the Executive Leadership Team no longer needs to pay you special attention.
Higgins: I’ve become a huge advocate, opening HealthEast’s eyes to the possibilities of job shares. And I’ve got other folks interested too. Our CMO said to me, “This is brilliant, a practice I’d love to consider for my team. I wish I’d thought of this earlier for myself.”
a word to beth & angela
Work Muse: What would you want to say to these career partners today?
Higgins: It was really hard to have their contract come to an end, and I’m still looking for ways to bring them back. I’m excited to see what Beth and Angela do next!