Are 2 Heads Better Than 1? Our Northern Rivers Job-Sharing GM Duo, Rebecca Robinson and Victoria Nankivell, share their thoughts.
Back in March, we welcomed back to the Northern Rivers team, Rebecca Robinson – General Manager of the Northern Rivers Branch, returning from maternity leave. Whilst we welcomed Rebecca’s return, we also celebrated a Beaumont People first, job-sharing the executive-level role with current General Manager, Victoria Nankivell.
Rebecca and Victoria are now over 6-months into their journey and this month we spoke to them about their wins, challenges, learnings and any advice for leaders taking on a job-sharing role.
Q: We are over 6-months in, how have you been finding job-sharing so far?
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: I think I can speak for us both (hopefully) when I say we are really enjoying working together again. We are growing and learning together.
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: Yes, we were lucky enough to know each other on a personal and professional level prior to starting in the role and had worked together previously and this has definitely made it easier.
Q: Were there any initial challenges you both had to overcome?
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: Yes, I rejoined the team and was back in the office for 2 weeks when COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. We were 2 weeks into our job share, leading a wonderful team, feeling so excited for the future, when we had to ask the team to pack up their desks and head home to work.
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: The challenges this presented included trying to establish our working style virtually. Brainstorming had to be done over zoom and we were just very conscious of not being in the same room with the team all the time. Added to this we had a brand new consultant, we were busy introducing our new role to clients and candidates (and the business!) all the time trying to keep the team and ourselves motivated.
Q: How do you both work with your team? Have you had to change your initial approaches to your management styles?
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: Each of our team members has different needs, different styles of working and different levels of experience. We initially had a plan of how we thought the job share would work but this quickly changed. We had to be very reactive and open with each other about what was and wasn’t working. This meant reassessing our expectations and communicating with the team and our managers. We realised that we needed to work on our natural strengths.
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: Yes, that’s right – it has been really good to have each other to bounce ideas off and also to have an alternative perspective. We were able to identify who was better to take on which aspect of our role – Bec is great at strategy and big picture stuff (she also has a great sense of humour so keeps the team upbeat) and I tend to look at the detail. We both enjoy the coaching part of the role and want the team to be successful. We have seen the benefits of this as the team are thriving, confident and get two managers instead of one which they have responded to really well. It’s an ongoing process but we are starting to find our groove and becoming more confident.
Q: What has been your biggest learning?
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: Oh a raw one for us. Our role requires us to manage the team but also hit our personal financial targets. When COVID-19 hit, the permanent recruitment market came to a grinding halt. (Vic and I recruit permanent positions). Luckily, a couple of weeks later the team were working on the largest value temporary contract our Byron office had experienced. They were working so hard, were incredibly excited and motivated to be helping people who really needed it. Our focus had to shift - we were helping to keep them focussed (they were working to very tight deadlines) and had to ensure they didn’t burn out. At the same time, we were the quietest, jobs wise that we had ever been.
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: We found ourselves taking on whatever recruitment we could (out of desperation) - which meant having to pull away from the team at times and it really felt like we were getting pulled in all directions and not being our best at anything! The reality was we had to manage our own expectations on what was really important and achievable, as well as change our perception of success. We now know that the team’s success is a measure of our success. It still feels alien to us both but we are starting to get used to this.
Q: Have you learnt anything about each other that has surprised you?
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: We both lack self-belief! But we are both so good at helping each other value ourselves. The irony! We are also both highly motivated by the success of the team and want to contribute to this.
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: We recently each completed the Strengths Assessment which is part of Beaumont’s new Career Coaching and Professional Development offering and found that we were opposites in a few areas. This has been great to identify as we can use it to benefit our job share.
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: For example, neither of us are strong at seeing projects through to completion, so we’ve started a process recently where one begins a task and the other finishes it, sounds so simple but we are ticking so many more items off the never-ending to-do list!
Q: Lastly, what advice would you pass onto any other leaders who are embarking on this journey?
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: Understand that any people management role will always require some reactive time during the day, in fact, expect it, plan for this. Be realistic about what can be achieved. This will help you to work smarter and better manage your time. If something isn’t working, try another way until you feel like it is and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The other thing is don’t be afraid of feedback – it is your friend!
A: [Rebecca Robinson]: Find a handover process that works for you – we went from email to Trello and back to email – we would love some more ideas that work if anyone has them, as we don’t have the time at the moment to research and trial them.
A: [Victoria Nankivell]: Overall we are enjoying our new role and seeing success as a team.