Mapping out team leadership success with a job share

Annie and Laura sit next to each other and look at a computer screen at their desk
Annie Waugh and Laura Hawkins have established a great job share which benefits everyone

When it comes to leadership, sometimes two heads are better than one. Just ask Annie Waugh and Laura Hawkins, the pair are the joint team leaders at VisAbility’s Children and Youth Services, North and East Teams.

They describe themselves as adopting a yin and yang style of leadership. Their job share works because they feel at ease, bouncing ideas off each other, contributing different skill sets. While they share the same lead role, their backgrounds are very different, Annie is a physiotherapist and Laura a psychologist.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day (link opens in new window), we thought we’d find out what makes this working relationship tick and why job share doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

Successful partnership

Laura says the job came about ahead of her return to work following a second period of maternity leave.

”I love my job but knew it would be hard to come back to the role, working a five-day fortnight. I didn’t want to take a back seat or step down, so I came up with this plan to see if I could job share the role with Annie,” she explains.

“I’d always worked well with her and I thought the two of us would complement each other in a working role,” she adds. 

The idea was warmly received by Seb Della-Maddalena, Manager Therapy and Support Services.

”I think he knows that we are two very different types of personalities but that our working styles would complement each other well,” Laura adds.

Annie was enthusiastic to be part of the job share and could see the merits of working alongside Laura. She has focus, drive and strategy while Laura has compassion, empathy and creativity, with the two styles complementing each other well.

I am methodical, quite structured and can be direct at times. I have an eye for detail and rigorously check my work.

While they are all good attributes to have, it’s beneficial to have input from someone else who has a rounded, softer approach and can get things done at a quicker pace.

Annie Waugh
Joint Team Leader

The two of them each have a different knowledge base, physiotherapist Annie has great experience with the NDIS while Laura has excellent soft skills when welcoming families to VisAbility, undertaking initial assessments and guiding them as they commence new therapy services.

Joint leadership initiatives

The team leader role is very varied, from managing staff to developing business plans to dealing with external queries, and they still have few one-on-one clients themselves. Two days are never the same. The pair have a one-day cross over every fortnight but are in contact over the phone or via email regularly. There is certainly flexibility among them both.

We get on really well, we’ve got equilibrium, neither of us wants to shine a little brighter than the other. There are no egos in this working relationship.

Laura Hawkins
Joint Team Leader

Laura and Annie point to a map which they created to help therapists on the road

They recently came up with a solution to a big problem among their therapists which was travel time. This so-called ‘passion project’ of theirs involved ensuring therapists spent more time with clients and less time on the road.

“Our services cover a large patch, from Yanchep to Waroona to Wundowie. We reassessed clients’ needs and where they are living and its far more streamlined for clients and therapists.

Now therapists are doing the job they should be doing with clients rather than racking up miles on the road. We’re very proud of our project map which shows therapists and their regular movements.”

Work-life balance

The job share also means that both Annie and Laura get to enjoy time with their young families. Annie says her carport is filled with surf skis and sports gear. Yoga helps her to maintain balance.

Born in America, Annie has also lived in Ireland, where in her late twenties, she carved out a successful career as a professional showjumper. As well as being a qualified physiotherapist, she also has a biology degree.

Laura has three children aged eight and under, so down-time is in short supply. Every year she returns to the same holiday resort with her husband and their three children – the JW Marriott Resort Khao Lak in Thailand. This year she’s looking forward to it more than most, as the couple have been finishing off a house-build project in Gooseberry Hill, living with family while it’s being constructed.

While they are very different individually, the two are wholeheartedly united about the benefits of job share. Both firmly believe that with the two of them sharing the one team leader position, VisAbility benefits from double the skillset, continuous cover and better planning for the future.

If you’d like to find out more about the services we offer to younger people, visit our Therapy for Children and Youth services and get in touch with us today.