Job shadowing is a form of career development where you observe someone in their position for up to a day to increase your knowledge, skills and understanding of what they do and how they do their job.
Job shadowing can be particularly useful if you:
- are considering working in a new field/are exploring a career change and want more information on a particular area, or
- are exploring capability gaps to transition into another position.
Before you apply discuss with your supervisor:
- What specifically would you like to learn about?
- What skills, experience, activities would you find valuable to observe?
- What objectives or goal do you hope to achieve from this shadowing experience?
By participating in this program you will:
- Gain insight into how another section operates through observing daily operations (collaborative & inclusive capability)
- Broaden your knowledge and understanding of other roles, practices or systems in the University (collaborative & inclusive capability)
- Build skills in working collaboratively across teams and Elements (collaborative & inclusive capability)
- Build networks across the university (collaborative & inclusive capability)
- Identify next steps in your career development and planning
This job shadowing experience is suitable for staff from the following areas:
- Professional staff, at any level, in any Group
- Staff who can invest up to a day (timing negotiated with host area)
- Have their manager / supervisor’s approval
Benefits, tasks and responsibilities
Preparing and applying
Talk with your team leader or supervisor.
Job shadowing placements are negotiated with your team leader in the first instance. So consider how long you want to shadow, discuss it with them and gain their approval. In most instances work shadowing is up to one day, which can be split up into 2 half day options as negotiated with the host Element.
- Dress appropriately for the work area (eg is there any special requirements from a Health and Safety perspective for example if working in Lab areas).
- Meet your work area contact at the designated time, date and location.
- Clarify what you would like to learn and the boundaries (e.g. is it OK to look over the host’s shoulder when they are writing emails).
- Observe and ask any questions that can assist you to learn.
- Talk about your shadowing experience with the host area (i.e. what you learnt, what went well, what you might do differently next time)
- Reflect on your learning - did you achieve the learning outcomes or your goal/s?
- Record these reflections in your Job Shadowing Workbook (PebblePad) as a way of capturing your experience to refer to for interviews or career opportunities.
- Explore any follow-up actions, such as:
- further work shadowing, or job shadowing in another area
- structured training
- record your experience in your e-performance document under Training and Development or Career Development
- Talk with your Supervisor about this experience
- How has the experience help you think about your next career steps?
- Is there any new practices or different ways of working that can be shared with your team?
- Is there any potential ongoing collaborations with the Host Team?
Benefits of job shadowing
- It contributes to the professional development of a fellow colleague
- It encourages you to reflect on why you do what you do and challenges you to think about your reactions and approaches to variety of situations
- It encourages you to reflect on your leadership style (improving self-awareness) and improves self-reflection
- develops coaching skills
- useful in transferring knowledge (e.g. can be used by someone who is about the retire to train a new staff member)
Preparing for a placement
Consider how you can assist the employee’s learning needs, including the best times and days to ensure the best learning experience. Determine the maximum time commitment (in most instances work shadowing is for up to one day (this can be split into two half-day visits as negotiated).
Think about what your boundaries will be as a host and be upfront about these with the visiting colleague (e.g. what they will and won’t be able to observe – consider confidentiality of sensitive information).
Health and safety
Ensure they are aware of all workplace health and safety (WHS) considerations for the work area. Will you need to provide advice on appropriate dress eg closed in shoes for the work environment.
The staff member must complete a job shadowing request form which is approved by their team leader before commencing a placement.
- Meet the visiting colleague at the designated time, date and location.
- Provide any local induction needed (e.g. fire emergency evacuation and procedures specific to the work area) and introduce them to team members.
- Clarify with the employee what they want to learn (this may have changed since the shadowing was organised).
- Talk through the activities they are likely to shadow (e.g. report writing, attending meetings, reading emails, answering phone calls, etc.), and discuss the behaviour that you expect. For example, if you are reading emails, can the person shadowing read over your shoulder?
- Have a discussion about privacy, confidentiality and/or any relevant legal or workplace health and safety considerations.
- Provide opportunities for the employee to ask questions and provide feedback to check their learning.
- Reflect on the job shadowing experience - what went well, what would you do differently next time?
- Explore any follow-up actions (if applicable), such as:
- further job shadowing opportunities
- sharing learnings from the experience with your team
- partner with the job shadower’s area to share information and collaborate on projects – this helps in process improvement and incorporates a collaborative approach
Feedback from previous participants
The job shadowing experience was a great overview of an area I have an interest in working in. I got the most from the time with my host by asking questions about their career path, discussing the structure of the department, various roles and how to get the experience for the role I am interested in.
To get the most out of the experience, participants should have an idea of what they would like to gain from the opportunity - is it a general overview of the whole area or a specific role? Do they want to know the skills required to work there, what a day in the role looks like or how they would go about moving into the area?
I've been employed with Griffith for over 13 years, and this is one of the best programs I've experienced.