What actually is … job shadowing?
“Tailor-made workshops”, “Individual coaching”, and “Customer-oriented advice”: What does precise support mean in practice? How can an external consultant or coach build up the necessary deep understanding of your organization, and in a very short time?
We have had excellent experiences with job shadowing. Perhaps you are already familiar with the term personnel development — originally coming from the USA, job shadowing is now also used in many German companies as a career orientation and onboarding measure. In short, a new colleague becomes an employee’s shadow for a day or two. The special thing about job shadowing is: It is not a classic on-the-job training! The “shadowing person” is not trained by taking on tasks under supervision but deliberately stays in the background and observes.
Job shadowing in business consulting
With increasing awareness of job shadowing, more and more consultants and coaches are discovering its potential. We have already prepared some change workshops and management coaching with job shadowing. Instead of working through image brochures, organizational charts, and charts or relying solely on briefings, we accompany selected employees and managers of your company in advance and collect impressions directly in everyday work:
- Typical workflows and structures
- Communication and collaboration in the team
- Behavioral patterns in routine activities and in challenging situations
- Conflict management
- Time management
I try to disturb the observed person as little as possible so as not to falsify our impressions with questions and discussions. Alternatively, the observer can be supported by an internal “commentator” who explains the procedure or relevant background information on complex topics. The job shadowing is followed by a detailed, joint feedback discussion.
Possible uses of job shadowing
With the help of job shadowing, we identify weaknesses and strengths quickly and objectively. The advantage: as an external observers, we also notice things that you take for granted and which you would therefore probably not mention in the briefing. In this way, we can give very precise feedback on the potential for improvement — the perfect basis for developing individual coaching, a workshop, or a further consulting strategy.
In the case of long-term cooperation, job shadowing can also be used to review agreed goals and measures. For example, we gain valid “live impressions” of progress and efficiency improvements for jour fix meetings and can use this as a basis to plan the next steps or suggest support with suitable tools.
Job shadowing also offers exciting opportunities for intensifying the transfer of knowledge within the company or for an inspiring change of perspective. For example, form shadow tandems of creative people and controllers or sales and marketing and let the input flow together in a moderated workshop on corporate development. You will be surprised!