Depending on the day, if you ask for the Director Development Apparel BU Training at adidas, you may get Melanie Guggemoss or you may get Heike Berenwinkel. So, who is the Director of Development Apparel BU Training? They both are. Melanie and Heike are job splitting. They share the title but split the hours, projects and responsibilities, each bringing a different skillset to the position; both key team players.
Where did the idea come from to split your position?
Melanie came up with the idea during her maternity leave. At that time I was substituting for her in the role of Director Development for the BU Training, which was my position before I left to give birth to my son.
Halfway through my maternity break I started to consider how I wanted to slide back into work. I’d always considered working part-time first. Heike told me it was hard to cover the workload with 32 hours per week. This made me think: how could I do justice to the team and myself while contributing less hours to the position? I gave it some thought and eventually brought the idea of a job split to Heike.
What is your specific arrangement?
Heike and I were lucky to self-manage our arrangement. It was important to us that the partnering functions and the team were not disadvantaged because of our arrangement. We wanted the office to be covered each day 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. I cover Monday and Tuesday. Heike covers Thursday and Friday. Wednesday we are both in the office.
What were some of the initial challenges you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge at the beginning was splitting the roles and responsibilities. Another one was that we are the first to set up a job split at the director level; pioneers so to say, at least on our level with team responsibility to consider.
I personally felt it was a bit challenging to get back into the job, as Heike had covered it for a year and suddenly I had to fit in again. I needed to become more sensible in how and when I consulted Heike. With her knowing all the topics, it was easy to check back with her on things, but she only has 24 hours. So I learned to decide more consciously when to include her.
What have been the benefits of job splitting?
A personal benefit for me is that I can continue working in my job and on my job level with reduced working hours and a better work-life balance. I have more time and energy for my family and friends than before.
Having Heike as my tandem creates a new level of accountability different from my team, manager or counterparts in other departments. I need to perform to one additional person’s expectations. This keeps my performance fresh and more consistent.
Yes, for the business, I see a great benefit:
Also, vacation and illness can be covered almost 100% between the two of us. And, we’ve noticed our productivity has increased.
What have been the reactions from your line manager and colleagues?
We’ve heard only positive feedback. It feels good to receive the trust from managers. Our Senior Vice President is proud to advocate our arrangement and its success for both the business and us. It would be great if we inspire others to talk with their line managers about such options. It would be helpful for a company to offer a platform where interested people can meet and see if they could be a potential job share fit, or a portal where jobs are offered specifically for share arrangements.
What advice do you have for someone interested in splitting a job?
Good chemistry between the job partners is essential. Create the set-up yourself, find your partner yourself and work openly and closely together.
To find a job share partner, check your network or talk to your HR and line managers to get connected. And for line managers it’s important that there is as open communication as possible to work together with the tandem on the set-up; involvement is key.
The set-up is never done. Constant reflection is a must and adjustments are needed. Be tolerant and open to the other’s opinions and ideas. Competition is a killer for the arrangement. And choose a platform to exchange and document meeting outcomes (for us, Onenote).