How to Choose the Right Job Sharing Partner

After you find prospective job sharing partners, how do you choose the “right” one?

Your job sharing success depends heavily on who you choose as a job partner. Get to know each of your prospective job-share teammates so that you make the right pick. (Does this sound like dating?)

Are You Compatible?

With each prospect, have a meeting to discuss the responsibilities of the job position and the expectations of the job sharing arrangement. This discussion alone will give you an indication of general compatibility.

As in any relationship, there is no perfect match, but in making your partner selection, consider the following:

1. Good communicator: This tops the list because thorough and consistent communication is crucial to job sharing success. The arrangement needs to be as seamless as possible to others—as if you’re one person—so you can’t let anything fall through the cracks.

2. Cooperative: An attitude of mutual respect and support plus a give-and-take approach to the exchange of ideas are positive indicators of the “right” partner. Pass on the person with a competitive streak.

3. Similar and complementary skills: While you want someone with a solid background in your field, a coworker who complements your strengths and weaknesses enhances the partnership by rounding out the position.

For example, a combination of your strong organizational skills and your partner’s creative bent will reap better results on projects than either strength alone.

4. Similar work habits: Attention to detail or big picture approach? Methodical or intuitive? Organized or sloppy (important when you share a desk or filing system)? Prompt or procrastinator? Swift or thoughtful in decision-making?

Compatibility in work styles may not be a make-or-break factor, but it fosters harmony.

5. Flexibility: Ideally, your partner would be able and willing to trade time with you should the need arise. Child or elder care arrangements may be the limiting factor in meeting this ideal, but include flexibility and trading time in your discussions. While you’re at it, you may want to discuss expectations about possible long-term absences, such as maternity leave or a short-term sabbatical.

Making the Selection

Follow your intuition about the match-up potential. Don’t ignore red flags; they’ll haunt you later. (Does this sound like dating? Oh, I said that already. You know what I mean.)

You may not start your job sharing arrangement as soon as you’d like, but it’s worth it for long-term success for you to take your time to pick the “right” job partner.

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