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Make job-sharing work

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management

More employees are asking to split a full-time position. This trend may put you in a bind: You want to accommodate workers, but you must maintain productivity.

Some supervisors grant job-share requests, yet hold employees accountable for problems that arise on their days off. That can make everyone miserable. Other bosses expect so much from the two job-share employees that they both wind up working virtually full time. Some job-sharers try to disavow slip-ups by pointing fingers at each other.

Avoid these traps by defining specific job duties and identifying how the two employees will divide them. Clarify reporting requirements so that each worker’s performance is evaluated fairly. Other tips:

Ensure a strong match. If two employees propose a job share, assess how they’ll work together. Ask each individual, “Why do you think you’ll make good partners?”

If they say, “We like each other” or “We’re both flexible,” that’s not enough. You want them to address specifically how their skills complement each other.

Pay attention to the hand-off. Poor communication can ruin a job share. Discuss with the employees how key information will pass between them and how contacts with clients or colleagues will work. Ask, “What might go wrong?” Have them agree on a weekly crossover time when they’re both in the office.

Emphasize continuity. Make sure partners give each other regular updates on pending projects, client calls and developments.

Insist on equality. Arrange a job share between employees who share a similar authority and skills. Neither should feel subordinate.

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