Friday 27 January 2017

Can you do a senior-level job share?

One question I'm often asked is whether it is really possible to work in a senior role in anything other than a full-time capacity. It's definitely the case that increasing number of both men and women are negotiating part-time roles in more senior jobs (see Timewise's Power Part Time List for some great examples), however it remains very difficult to be hired on this basis.

Job-share is an interesting alternative, which can give the organisation the full-time coverage they often want for a senior role, while allowing you and your job-share partner to benefit from a part-time working model. 

Can job-share work in a senior role?

Much as I love the concept of job-sharing, I haven't come across many case studies of job-sharing at a top leadership level, so I was very encouraged this week to read a Womanthology interview with Mary Starks, the Director of Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): Why Job Sharing is a Two-Brainer. Mary started her career as an economist and has worked part-time since 2005, joining the FCA as a job-share in 2013. She is enthusiastic about the benefits both to the organisation and the individual if you can make it work: 

"if an organisation can get the right job-share partnership in place, it gets two brains, two sets of accumulated experience, and the more productive halves of two people’s weeks for the price of one. It’s also a very enjoyable way to work, particularly as a senior leader – you share the highs and the lows and avoid the “loneliness of leadership”.

Job-sharing and returner programmes

Mary acknowledges the challenge of finding "the right combination of people at the right time". It strikes me that a returner programme cohort or a return to work support group could provide the ideal opportunity to meet another high-calibre professional with similar and complementary skills, at that precise moment when you are both looking for a permanent role on a part-time basis. It hasn't happened yet, so far as I know but, as the market develops, I hope to see job-shares as one of the successful outcomes of professional return-to-work programmes.

Further Reading

Sharing is Caring: Job sharing as a supportive way to return to work

Note: If you're inspired by reading about the culture at the FCA, and have a background in commercial/regulatory finance or accounting, look at this supported hiring role where the FCA are welcoming applications from career break returners and part-time work is available: FCA Finance Specialist

Update 2/2/17: Just after I wrote this blog Timewise published their latest Power Part-Time list which featured 9 job-shares - 2 in the private sector at The Guardian and Lloyds Banking Group and 7 in the public sector at Age UK, the Green Party, the Home Office, Croydon council, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish government. See more here.

Posted by Julianne

Friday 20 January 2017

Are you Missing the Point of Networking at an Event?

This week's blog is by Rachel Halsall, one of our Women Returners Coaching team.

One of my favourite ways to spend time is to work with coaching clients to design their networking strategy. 

After having had the pleasure of providing coaching sessions at the Women Returners Conference, it struck me that many of the women I spoke to were missing the point about what networking at an event is all about and what the benefits can be. What I heard in a number of these coaching conversations was a belief that networking is about walking up to somebody you don’t know, reciting an elevator pitch and then asking them for a favour, an opportunity or a job.

Whilst it's true that your next opportunity may well come about through your wider network, this is not what networking is about at all.

What is event networking about?

To ‘network’ at an event is ...
  • To walk into a room of people and to engage in interesting conversations; 
  • To find out more about another person and their perception and ideas;  
  • To enjoy social interaction in person rather than through social media; 
  • To share knowledge;  
  • To build new contacts and widen your network of interesting people;  
  • To find out what is going on in your or other sectors;  
  • To make introductions to help interesting people meet other interesting people.
At the Conference I saw that some great conversations were happening all around the room, and that new relationships were being developed. I hope that these conversations continued after the event. Staying in touch and nurturing that connection is essential - in most cases it is through this on-going effort, rather than the initial introduction, that you will see the advantages of having a great network pay off. 

How can you get better at event networking?

You can get better at this form of networking, and enjoy it more, simply by getting out there, attending some events and asking other people some questions. Practice listening intently to somebody about their take on things. Be interested in what you are hearing rather than worrying about whether or not you are interesting. Use the kind of listening skills that you would use on a first date and you will find that you remember much more detail than if you're focusing on saying something impressive.

If I am paying attention to you, listening to you, enjoying your company, learning from you and sharing my knowledge with you, you are more than likely to want to stay in touch with me, to ask me for help and to help me should I ask. This is the point of networking. 

To finish with an easy tip: Smile when you enter the room and turn your ears on!

Posted by Rachel, Women Returners

Thursday 12 January 2017

Women Returners Conference 2016 - Video highlights

One of our 2016 highlights was our first Women Returners Conference. We wanted to share a video which aims to capture the high level of energy and enthusiasm on the day.

Our thanks to everyone who was involved in making it such a fantastic experience: speakers, sponsors, coaches, organisers and all of you who joined us in the audience. We hope it inspires you to make 2017 your Back to Work Year!

Friday 6 January 2017

How to maintain your New Year motivation to return to work

Happy New Year!

If you've just set a goal to return to work during 2017, how can you maintain your start-of-the-year determination, and not let it fade away like most New Year's resolutions? 

Psychologist Richard Wiseman conducted two large-scale global scientific studies into motivation and found that only 10% of people successfully turned their dreams into reality. Why do we so often fail to achieve our goals? Reassuringly, this isn't another reason to beat ourselves up for not trying hard enough. The research shows that the problem is not our weak willpower, it's that the techniques we think will help us to achieve our goals don't help us in practice. 

A good example is the often-touted motivational technique of visualisation. A study at the University of California found that students asked to visualise their end goal - getting a high grade in their exam - for a few minutes each day ended up working less and getting worse marks. Another experiment found that students who often fantasised about their dream job were actually less likely to get job offers.

How can we boost our motivation? 

Richard Wiseman looked at the motivation techniques that people used most often and discovered that half were effective and half ineffective, and that most people were using the ineffective ones. 

He identified 5 effective ways to boost your motivation ...:
1. Making a step-by-step plan, breaking the goal into achievable and measurable sub-goals to reduce the fear and hesitation of change. 
2. Telling friends, family and other people about your goals. In this way you both strengthen your resolve and get support. 
3. Thinking about the specific ways in which your life will be better if you achieve your goal.
4. Rewarding yourself in small ways for achieving each sub-goal to maintain a sense of progress.
5. Making plans, progress, benefits and rewards more concrete and specific by writing them down. 

... and 5 ineffective techniques to avoid:
1. Focusing on a successful role model.
2. Thinking about the bad things that will happen if you don't achieve your goals.
3. Trying to suppress negative or unhelpful thoughts.
4. Relying on willpower.
5. Visualising your end goal or fantasising about how great life will be when you achieve your goal.

If using visualisation still appeals, watch Wiseman's 59 second video for how to make this more effective.

Return to Work Motivation

If you've committed to yourself to return to work this year, think about how you can apply these principles to build your own motivation when your New Year enthusiasm wanes and the rest of life gets in the way. 

Here are some ideas:
  • Buy a new journal, or create a spreadsheet if you prefer, and start recording your plans and progress 
  • Set aside regular times each week to work on your job exploration
  • Set achievable and practical weekly return-to-work sub-goals
  • Decide what small rewards you will give yourself for achieving your sub-goals (avoid chocolate if getting healthier is another of your New Year goals!)
  • Create your own return to work peer group to share your goals and to support each other. If you're in the London area, you can join our London Women Returners Networking & Support Group (and let us know if you'd like start your own local Women Returners group). Use our Facebook group as an extra source of encouragement too.

Posted by Julianne

Note: Updated version of previous post Jan 2015