As Sr. Directors of Marketing at Yahoo!, Hillary Mickell and Andrea Cutright are the Company’s first job share pair, and jointly lead all marketing initiatives for Yahoo’s Network Products Group.
Benefits to the Company.
According to Andrea and Hillary, or team McRight as they are known at Yahoo!, the greatest benefits of their job share arrangement are greater coverage for their ever expanding set of responsibilities and more time for creativity. Because their position covers such a broad range of high visibility products, before they shared a job, they both felt that too much of their time was taken up in meetings and reactionary work, and not enough in working one on one with their teams. Between her meeting schedule and balancing the demands of two children at home, Andrea also felt she was too busy to think as creatively as she liked. In recent years, those thinking moments in the shower or on the drive home that had always been her "creative time," were increasingly occupied by practical concerns like whether she had enough milk in the refrigerator.
Through their job share, the team now has better coverage for the growing responsibilities of the position. And both women feel they are more effective in the role than they were alone, with better coverage for meetings, more time to work with their team, and most importantly,
more time to think creatively. According to everyone in their ecosystem, the ideas are flowing. Their staff felt the results of the increased productivity of their new bosses first hand when their list of action items doubled in the first two months of reporting to the job share pair. When this was brought to their attention, Hillary and Andrea quickly reined in their creativity, recognizing that they may have doubled their thinking time, but they hadn’t doubled their staff.
In addition, both women feel strongly that they are more committed to Yahoo! because the Company is supporting them in this win-win arrangement.
Motivation for Flex Career.
Before they formed their job share arrangement, both Andrea and Hillary were working full time schedules as Sr. Directors in Marketing at Yahoo!. Andrea had been handling the job that the two now share and Hillary had been handling a similar role for a different group at Yahoo!. Both Andrea and Hillary have two children almost the same age, with both of their second children under a year old. They both also have working spouses. Clearly, time for their young families was a significant motivation for forming their team. But other motivations were equally important. Andrea, whose husband has a more flexible schedule than she does, was perhaps equally motivated by a desire for a creative partner and an additional resource that could help her to cover a big and growing role with high visibility in the company. Because Hillary had come to Yahoo! from an agency she was used to teaming and bouncing ideas off of a creative partner. As she looked at ways to create the balance she was looking for, she was particularly attracted to the teaming and collaborative aspect of a job share arrangement.
How it Works.
Hillary and Andrea each work 3 days per week. Hillary works Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Andrea works Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. They chose this schedule in part because neither of them would be out of the office for more than one day in at a time. But they also wanted to make it clear to management that their motivation in this arrangement was not to create a four day weekend for themselves. Behind the scenes, they talk every night at 10pm to synch from the day, and they use their joint time on Wednesdays to host a joint staff meeting, and meet live, ensuring they are on the same page on big projects. They truly behave as one person. Their email is shared, and they even go by one name – McRight (McKell And Cutright).
As far as goals and objectives for their position are concerned, the team has coached their management that they share all goals and objectives for the team and want to be evaluated as a team, rather than each being help accountable for discrete objectives. This is particularly important to this team because Andrea had been in this job for some time, and they both want to ensure that Hillary is treated as an equal in the partnership, though she may not have the same history with their constituents. The two women have, however, discussed and set different personal career goals with management.
Hillary and Andrea each receive full benefits, including full vesting of their Yahoo! stock options, a valuable component of their compensation. And because the team is working a total of 6 rather than 5 days a week, each of them is compensated at half of 1.2 times their original full time salary. According to the team, neither of them actually knows how much the other makes because their compensation is based on their salaries coming into the team.
Team McRight is responsible for all marketing for Yahoo’s Network Products group, including such well-known brands as Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! 360, Yahoo.com, My Yahoo! and the Personal Platforms that run across much of the Yahoo! product suite, such as the personalization infrastructure. Team McRight reports to the VP of Marketing at Yahoo! and has dotted line responsibility to the Company’s VP of Products. The team also manages 8 direct reports and 6 dotted line reports.
Selecting a Job Share Partner.
Both Andrea and Hillary feel that selecting the right partner is key to the success of any job share team. The two women had known each other for years and though they always handled separate responsibilities at Yahoo!, had sought each other out as a sounding board and creative partner since they had met. They were trusted advisors before they became a team. And they credit their mutual respect for each other and complementary skills as the keys to their success as partners.
Team McRight’s job share arrangement is the first at Yahoo!. It’s not clear yet, what the company’s position will be on supporting more of these arrangements in the future, but so far management is very happy with the team’s performance. There are also a handful of individuals at Yahoo! working part time schedules in various positions at the company. Andrea and Hillary sense that there are a number of people at Yahoo! that are interested in following in their job share footsteps but according to Hillary, “The what and the who of a job share are not trivial issues.”
Yahoo! did recently make a major switch from a head count model of managing human resource capital to a resource cost model. This cost model allows the company to stay in touch with the true human resources investment it is making in its various businesses. And though the switch wasn’t instituted for this purpose, doing away with headcount eliminates a number of disincentives for offering flexible and part time work arrangements normally associated with the rigidness of headcount’s whole units.
Advice for Other Job Share Pairs.
The team offers the following advice to others interested in job sharing: “Find a partner that you respect and that shares your work ethic. And be sure to respect each other’s opinions and thought process. A large part of the value in a partnership like this is the complementary skills and perspectives of the two team members. That means that you’re not always going to think alike and that’s a good thing. We are much more creative as a team than we could be alone, but it’s a collaborative process to get there. For us to truly operate as a team, it was important to put our egos on hold, and be committed to sharing all of our projects, rather than taking on distinct individual projects. Part of that is because one of us owned this role previously and the other is coming in to the role as a part of the team. But we recommend this principle for any job share to reduce the potential for competition and make it about the team.”
This is the first in a series of profiles by the Flexibility Alliance of parents succeeding in custom careers. If you are inspired to take the next step toward career flexibility, or just interested in exploring how it can be done; visit the Flexibility Alliance at www.flexibilityalliance.org . The
Flexibility Alliance is a portal and organization dedicated to supporting highly skilled parents in creating flexible careers and in helping companies to attract and retain this valuable talent through flexible career opportunities. According to the Alliance, a majority of employees and
managers report that flexible work arrangements have positive effects on productivity, quality of work and retention.