Job shares come in different forms. Traditionally, two people share one job and ‘hand over’ at points during the week. However, as Helen Mills and Richard Ney from the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) explain, this isn’t the only way.
Helen and Richard’s story
DExEU was created almost overnight on 14 July 2016 and was tasked with delivering what is widely recognised as the most complicated peacetime project for the Civil Service. Growing a department from a handful of staff on that day to over 600 today, in order to deliver this task, has called for new approaches in the way we work.
In DExEU we have two directorates where the director roles are ‘job shared’ between two people working full-time. This not only recognises the importance of ensuring there is sufficient resilience to lead the work of teams, but also ensures that the teams working to the directors are encouraged to work seamlessly together and reduce the risks of siloed working.
We jointly run the Corporate Centre here in DExEU, as HR Director [Helen] and Finance Director [Richard] respectively, and we job share all of the other corporate activity for the department between us. This includes Estates, IT, Commercial, Data, Security, Knowledge Management, Corporate Governance, Correspondence and Freedom of Information.
Five top tips
Having worked in this way for nearly a year, we wanted to share some of our five top tips for this type of job share:
- You’ve got to quickly get used to success being about ‘us’ rather than you as an individual. It’s all about teamwork, and you’ve got to take both credit and criticism jointly!
- You live and die by how good your prioritisation and handover is – do it regularly and do it well. It means both you and your teams have clarity over who is leading on what.
- Take advantage of having another brain to bounce things off, and that there is someone who can give you real-time honest feedback on your strengths and development.
- Regularly review the way you are working together – bad habits can creep in, so make sure you get any frustrations out of your system early. There will be times when one of you says something in a meeting the other doesn’t agree with – but try to have the disagreement and resolve issues outside of the room!
- Challenge each other to go further and out of your comfort zone, but don’t let your combined enthusiasm get too far ahead of where your team is.
We both feel that working in this way has been one of the best things we’ve done, and the benefits are huge. It’s a great example of ‘a brilliant Civil Service’ in action.
If you are considering starting a job-share on a similar basis, we’d love to discuss what we’ve learned in more detail and would encourage you to make use of the Civil Service job share finder.
Job sharing is open to civil servants at any grade and any stage of their career. For more information about job sharing in the Civil Service, and more stories from job sharers about their experience, please visit the job sharing pages on GOV.UK.