How often have you wished that you could be a fly on the wall – or in German, Mäuschen spielen (lit. play mouse) – in a colleague’s office? Virtual Job Shadowing makes this practically possible, and gives an opportunity for mutual reflection. Recently, Camila had the opportunity to job shadow Mirjam, and together we spent some time reflecting on our learnings, shared below.
The biggest benefit of virtual job shadowing is…
Mirjam: From the perspective of being the “job shadowed person,” it was exciting to get an outside-in perspective from someone who observes the entire (virtual) room – not only you, but the meeting in general. I benefited a lot from Camila’s feedback and observations.
Camila: From the shadow perspective, it is interesting on many levels: there is the content, and the people you can meet and learn about. The biggest benefit though is the opportunity to reflect on yourself.
The biggest benefit is the opportunity to reflect on yourself.– Camila Chaudron
In the virtual setting, you can be less visible – this matters because you can have an honest experience. What is the dynamic of a team where you are not present? This can help you think about your impact on the meetings where you actively lead or participate.
Other obvious benefits to me personally were to see familiar faces in new roles, and to get a behind-the-scenes sense of what it takes to organize global series of events like IAA and the Financial Times Future Cities Briefings.
It informs my role as well – job shadowing helps me learn about the tools, topics and challenges of my colleagues, so that we can better support also from the people development function.
The most insightful thing I learned…
Camila: Mirjam explained her view that Siemens is a karma-driven company, meaning that what goes around comes around. I never consciously recognized it before, but I believe this is true. If we step out of silo thinking, we support each other because we are all working towards one goal.
Sometimes you don’t see the immediate impact, but then a year later – this contact comes to you with information, or advice, or an opportunity, and you realize that what makes Siemens strong is also how interconnected we are to each other.
Shadowing gave me room to reflect and to reprioritize my work life as well. – Mirjam Laubenbacher
Mirjam: Camila asked me where I get my energy from and if it is authentic. I had to laugh out loud in that moment. Of course, it is authentic, but it made me also laugh about myself and my “energetic” personality in meetings.
It definitely is true that I am happy when I meet people that I like. In general I loved Camila’s honesty and her directness and all her questions were like that.
The most surprising aspect of virtual job shadowing…
Mirjam: I really thought Camila will only listen in to what I do or will only job shadow me. Through the style of the questions she asked me, I realized that she read the room and that she analyzed the entire environment. For me that was a huge benefit because she was able to find blind spots in my everyday work life.
Camila: If you are the type of person who deals with imposter syndrome, job shadowing might also be a really good development measure for you. By gathering insights into someone else’s thought processes, seeing how they work through challenges – small or large, one will undoubtably arise – and noticing what you are already doing well in your role: all this can help build an understanding that we are all trying to do the best within our range of ability.
What I would do differently next time is…
Camila: Spend even more time! I only shadowed Mirjam for a few hours spread over three weeks, so it was a condensed experience and I could have kept learning. But I already got new insights, so even in a short span of time it was possible to learn and reflect and change.
Another aspect I would do even more of are debrief sessions or chat messages after a call, to get a sense of what your colleague thought about the meeting, and to get a chance to have your burning questions answered.
Mirjam: I will put job shadowing to my main to-dos every year and will try to keep up with the good people we have in this organization.
The biggest takeaway for me is…
Mirjam: I am impressed by the impact it has on both, the shadower and the shadowee. It makes up room for reflection and let’s you see yourself in the eyes of someone else. I can only recommend to do it!
Camila: Every person I’ve shadowed, which also included shadowing Anna Mouchref in person, and Ines van Neuß virtually in the early days of the pandemic, and now Mirjam, my colleagues bring so much energy and focus to their roles. It impresses and inspires me.
Something I am thinking about now is how I can continue to give my best every day. What if there was a “mouse” in the meeting right now?
Shadowing is not just something reserved for learning hours or trainings or leadership presentations – we constantly have the opportunity to lead by example and to learn from each other.