from a senior


How to integrate a job-share role into your organisation at any level


Image: Istock

Eleanor Purser

Co-Strategic Director Sustainable Growth and Opportunity, Lambeth Council

Sara Waller

Co-Strategic Director Sustainable Growth and Opportunity, Lambeth Council

Even in a sector as creative and diverse local government, senior job-share is often seen as exotic. We arrived in the newly established role of (co-) strategic directors for Sustainable Growth and Opportunity at the London Borough of Lambeth in 2019. So, for us the job-share rhythm of passing the baton of responsibility twice a week is well-trodden. But we see the questions in people’s eyes as we introduce ourselves: how do we make it work and which one did I meet last time?

This is often said slightly apologetically, but we consider it a badge of honour. A founding principle for our job-share is that it is fully integrated: we both do everything and it is up to us, not our stakeholders, to remember who said what to whom. So what are the lessons for others from our experience?


Given its advantages for individuals seeking a work-life balance, job-sharing seems a no-brainer. We would argue that for employers also, 1+1 equals 3. The extra horsepower of two brains on the job does, we have been told, result in more reflective and considered leadership. So why is it not more widespread in senior circles?

It may be because our recruitment systems and leadership perceptions are structured around individuals. It is to the credit of our then boss, Andrew Travers, lead members at the time and since, and the spirit of rebelliousness that is Lambeth that they were prepared to keep asking the system to accommodate us.

“The extra horsepower of two brains on the job does, we have been told, result in more reflective and considered leadership. So why is it not more widespread in senior circles?”

Together we’ve learned a few practical tips for welcoming a senior job-share:


At recruitment stage be clear about how to assess the candidates. We were required to make separate applications but insisted on submitting a common statement. We were interviewed separately and jointly and were clear that we would only accept the job as a job-share.


At appointment stage, the organisation has to recognise that a fully integrated role requires time together for handover. This allows for alignment of thinking and effective team leadership. So there has to be doubling up on a Wednesday. Initially the role could only be offered as a FTE, so we started on a convoluted working hours pattern with half days off to balance the shared time.

The demands arising from a busy organisation meant these half-day boundaries were impossible to maintain. No successful senior leader in local government can be a clock-watcher, but the spillover of professional requirements into personal time became routine. After six months, in the interests of equity, the organisation agreed to fund the role at 1.2 FTE.

“Evolution can – and should – be possible.”


At induction stage, the IT system will inevitably say no to having two profiles for the same job role. A way was found for us to share a phone and an email account. The only system which refused to accept us jointly was, ironically, the HR system. We have individual logins for leave and salary information and our direct reports hang off one of those accounts for objective and appraisal management.


When configuring corporate leadership forums, some flexibility is needed to enable joint participation. Lambeth moved its corporate management team meetings to Wednesday. Evolution can – and should – be possible. Under our new chief executive, Bayo Dosunmu, timings are shifted and space is also being made for informal cabinet on the same day. The frequency means we can also hold our own directorate leadership meetings on Wednesdays.


And finally in terms of managing a job-share, we have common objectives and are appraised together. This is possible because we view our successes or stumbling points as joint. But our chief executives have also recognised the benefits of having separate spaces for personal development. So we have bimonthly joint 1:1s and in the alternative months separate 1:1s.

After the initial head-scratching, the process has been smooth. We would encourage organisations to be explicit in welcoming job-share applications at all levels and would be happy to answer questions from other Campbell Tickell clients.


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