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Considering job sharing? Some helpful hints

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Of the various flexible work options to emerge in recent years, job sharing--having two part-timers fill one full-time position--has never quite taken off the way experts once predicted. But it's still an option that can be useful. Here's what you need to know:

Start with two compatible people. Look for complementary skills, similar communication styles, shared goals and mutual respect. Make it the employees' task to work out the details and means of coordinating their efforts. Both persons should attend staff meetings, and there should be a definite plan for communicating important information between the two.

Be clear about your policies. For example, make sure you understand what the impact of job sharing will be from a benefits (and budget) perspective. Will both employees be working enough hours to qualify for benefits? Be sure you know the options from the start so that nobody is disappointed later. Also be clear with the rest of your team on how the job-sharing team will be affected by your work rules and procedures.

Establish a practical work schedule. If the position to be shared includes more responsibilities that can be handled in a regular 40-hour week, it's not unreasonable to expect each job sharer to work five hours a day, overlapping in the middle. In some shared positions, employees may need to alternate full days rather than each work half-days. Make sure everyone understands this in advance. 

Handle goal setting and evaluations as a team. The point of job sharing is for the two workers to function as a unit. Obviously, this can only go so far--there may be performance issues that only apply to one worker. But be careful not to discuss team issues with just one of the employees or show preference for one worker's style over the other. If the two workers disagree on how to approach a task, ask them to come back to you with a single proposal.

Bottom-Line Idea

Check what you think motivates your team members against what they tell you. For example, post a list of what you believe to be the "top 10 motivators" on a bulletin board outside your door, and ask team members to vote for their preferred order of importance. Or simply spark a discussion about the motivators you commonly use, and listen to how important your team thinks each one is.

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