Gesa and Rixa work for Beiersdorf AG in the Category Test Team of Eucerin/Health Care. They have been in a tandem since May 2017. In the interview, they talk about how they found each other, what job sharing means to them, and how a good job-sharing organization works.
You have been working in a job share since 01.05.2017. Before that, you knew each other only fleetingly. How did you find each for the tandem? And how were your first months in job sharing?
Gesa: We actually found each other through our supervisor. At the end of 2016, I was doing the job alone and full time. During this time, I realized that in the long run I could not manage so many tasks and still manage to be comfortable in my private life. I was very stressed and my work lost its joy. After talking with my boss, she suggested the job-sharing model and later mentioned Rixa as a potential partner. Until then, we knew each other only fleetingly and had not worked together yet. So, we first met to get to know each other better and then decided to give it a try. For me, it was important to feel from the beginning that we were on the same wavelength. The first few months were very intense. Of course, you first have to get to know each other and develop and clarify your work processes.
Rixa: When Gesa and I found each other, I had been in a great job in another area for 5 years – part-time. I wanted to do something new again, but if you’re looking for a part-time job, it’s not that easy. That’s why I was glad that Gesa was looking for a job-sharing partner right then – and that I also had the opportunity to reduce my hours a bit. After a first meeting and after consulting with a colleague who knew us both, it was clear that I wanted to try the model with Gesa very much.
In the first few months, I learned a lot of new things in job sharing because the job was completely different. From Gesa, I was able to learn a lot because she had already done the job before. At the same time, I was able to directly bring in many of my own ideas and working methods, as both Gesa and our team were very open.
How did you come to choose this model? What was your motivation to work less?
Rixa: My motivation to choose the job-sharing model was that I wanted a challenging new job. Since I like structure and organization, I was also excited by job sharing. And if you can experience job sharing for yourself, you may also be able to support employees to choose such a model for themselves.
Gesa: For me, the birth of my daughter and other family circumstances simply shifted my priorities. Family and job – those can put a lot of pressure on you. That’s why I opted for a part-time option. At the same time, I did not want to make too much of a compromise on my area of responsibility – so the job-sharing model was a good option.
How do you organize your daily work in the tandem
Gesa: In our area, we work on different independent projects, so we decided to divide them among us. Also, for our team, we wanted to continue to offer the familiar atmosphere of a private, one-on-one conversation. That’s why we also divided ourselves as contact people for the team. With regard to the overall orientation of the team as well as strategic and budgetary issues, we make decisions together.
Rixa: I think the foundation of our organization has been very good, but we are not finished after 8 months.
You refer to it as a “Christmas present” that you found each other through your supervisors. If you hadn’t been this lucky, what would have been important in your search for a partner?
Rixa: Having identified potential job-sharing partners, you should develop through personal conversations a sense of whether you can build the necessary trust to share the job.
Gesa: As Rixa said, having a good gut feeling, as well as understanding and trust, is very important when choosing a partner. With our tandem, it’s good that we both already had some experience as sole team leaders. At the professional level, we both have a different background, which I also find very enriching. So, each partner also has their own competencies that they contribute.
What is especially important for job sharing to succeed? Do you have any tips?
Gesa: Job sharing is very individual; every tandem has to find its own way. For me, the right attitude, the mindset, is especially important: you and the job-sharing partner must want this model and be ready for it. Your own ways of working have to be reconsidered and adapted, and you have to be open to feedback from the job-sharing partner at all times. Trust is a very central element. You cannot vote on every decision with the job-sharing partner. But you have to be able to trust that the partner supports a decision.
And you should have fun with it. I think it’s a very good sign when you arrive at work in the morning and are really excited to see your job-sharing partner.
Rixa: I think the will to do the job together is especially important. And trust in the skills, work, and personality of the job-sharing partner.
A similar attitude to dealing with colleagues and employees, successes and failures, etc. is of course helpful, but not essential. Differences can be totally enriching, both professionally and personally.
Please complete the following sentence: “To me, job sharing means…”
Rixa: … having a great job with responsibility, developing myself professionally and personally, and still having time for my family.
Gesa: Exactly. In addition to reconciling work and family, there is also personal and professional development: I have learned a great deal in recent months.