Dear Pat: I work as a Production Manager for a magazine in Chicago. I’m also a single mom who finds it nearly impossible to stay past 6 PM. In fact, I’m about to approach my senior management team about working until 3 PM on two out of five workdays.
I have a wonderful assistant, Darcy, who has been with me for a little over a year. She was promoted from receptionist to her current Production Coordinator position. She’s young, energetic, smart and hungry to learn.
While I have to dash out the door to pick up my kids, Darcy gladly sticks around, sometimes working very late when we’re close to monthly deadlines.
Should I discuss my desired work schedule plan with Darcy before I pitch the proposal to management? It really isn’t a job share arrangement because I’m her supervisor, so I don’t know if it’s a good idea to talk about my flexible work arrangement plan with her first. Please advise. Struggling Sara
Dear Sara: I think it’s an excellent idea to involve Darcy in your flexible work arrangement plan before going to management.
In fact, it’s probably critical to its long-term success. While you’re not job sharing partners, per se, you are definitely a team. She has demonstrated herself to be an eager and devoted team player and you want to continue to nurture that.
Involving your assistant in your plans not only shows courtesy, but you will send the message of how valuable and trustworthy she is.
By esteeming and appreciating her in this way, along with helping her build her job skills, you will make her continue to feel good about the contribution she is making. This, in turn, is likely to keep her motivated and loyal. What a combination!
Have a two-part conversation; one to ask about her goals, specific interests in the work she’s doing (i.e., what she enjoys most), what she thinks of the workload, and so on.
A week or two later, focus on your new schedule plan and ask her opinions and feedback about it.
Then, in presenting to your management, you can reference Darcy’s role with specifics, knowing she not only has bought into the plan, but was part of developing it.
Assuming approval of your new schedule by your management team, this approach to including Darcy is likely to result in high levels of job satisfaction for both of you.