The Shadow Knows

Shadow Knows WEB SMLJob shadowing is often good for young people considering a profession. A company allows an individual to come in and job shadow a person in marketing, or HR, or a chef, an attorney to help the new job seeker to see if the job or industry is a good match for his/her interests. Organizations would be wise to consider implementing job shadowing. However, job shadowing does have its detractors.

The Naysayers

First, organizations play a role in the negative reputation surrounding job shadowing. Managers present job shadowing as the need to have Employee A fill a job for Employee B who is going to be on leave or as a “just in case” backup. So, Employee A is thinking, “OK, so I must take time away from my job, learn about something I hate, do double work, and not get any extra compensation. Oh yeah, I can hardly wait!” While job shadowing for the stated reasons is valid, presenting it in a better way, helping the employee who is to job shadow see what’s in it for him or her, and some type of compensation will no doubt result in better attitudes and job shadowing acceptance.

Coworkers too play a part in the unpopular aspect of job shadowing. The employee who is conducting the job shadowing project will also lose productivity, must answer a barrage of questions, clean up any errors or messes, and still get their own job finished on time. Not much glamour or gratification in that scenario. Let’s look at a better idea.


Starting a job shadowing program that benefits everyone, including the organization, is a better idea. An excellent job shadowing program allows employees to select the departments to shadow. Now the person doing the shadowing has a heightened interest in the program. The department or person being shadowed is far more likely to be willing to help someone who shares their own interests. In addition, managers may be able to better identify people for succession planning to fill future openings. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have each party turn in an evaluation on both the job shadowing participants. The organization is now providing job shadowing as part of a career growth path for its employees.

Matching Individuals

When job shadowing, people are working more closely than normal. Therefore, it’s important to try and match working styles. You might have people complete surveys or profiles on their own preferences. Using behavioral assessments that are kept on file from hiring, or development purposes can provide the ability to make a quicker and more accurate match up. If two people do agree to working together and their profiles don’t match, at least they will have a better understanding of how to modify their own behaviors to curb friction.

Going Forward

Just as with any succession plan or ongoing program, it makes sense to keep records. Who has gone through the program? What do evaluations reveal? What is working? What changes need to be made? As the program progresses, the organization will have many people who can take over or at least contribute in a time of need when a position becomes vacant due to vacation, illness, leave, or dismissal. Overtime, your succession pool will build so that you have good bench strength. Employees will be happier because of the growth job shadowing provides.

The shadow knows this is a win for everyone!

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Job Shadowing