I participated in my first job shadow
when I was in eighth grade. For a class assignment, I shadowed my father, a corporate
attorney, for two days. My assignment was to observe and document what his day
consisted of, such as meetings, luncheons, etc., and not so much any specific
context of a particular meeting. I shadowed others in high school and college,
both for class assignments, and for personal experience. And, now that I’m
twenty-five years plus in my career, I’ve been shadowed a few times too.
Job shadowing can be fun for both the
student and the employee. You get to show off a little bit, sharing stories,
and in many ways trying to convince someone that your chosen profession is
something they should consider for themselves. There is also another form of
job shadowing, one that can take place between two employees, that can be
enlightening and quite valuable to organizational performance.
Take the queue from the traditional job
shadow, a sales person can and should spend a day or two shadowing their sales
manager, but also the president of the company. When a sales person has an opportunity
to watch and learn what takes place within their own organization, beyond their
smaller perspective or daily grind, it enlightens them as to why their own role
and decision making is so important. Sales people, by the nature of their chosen
career path, enjoy the engagement of others. Conversation is a key to a sales
person’s skill set. What better way to learn more about their own company and
potential career advancement opportunities than to shadow those ahead of them.
Conversing with these leaders while watching intently on what they do every day
to drive company success can be more enlightening, and ultimately helpful, to a
sales person than any other form of training.
Another approach to the job shadow is to
do so during an interview process. How often do you bring in prospective sales
candidates for a half or full day and allow them to shadow you? Not only will
the candidate get firsthand experience on a “day in the life of”, you too will
get firsthand experience of the candidate. You’ll have an opportunity to witness
how this person interacts with others in the organization for whom they will be
required to work with should you hire them. You can gauge their level of
interest in what you do and how you do it based upon the type and volume of
questions they ask. You’ll also glean some insight into their personality, more
so than in an interview, especially since you will be spending so much time
with them going forward. Will they be a cultural fit for the organization?
Consider the reasons you’ve either
participated in or hosted a job shadow in the past. Now, consider what value
this approach will have for your business today, and for your business in the future.