The exact steps to transition from full-time to part-time work

In This Post

  • Do you want to convert to part-time?
  • What's holding you back?
  • My story of shifting to part-time
  • Tips for asking your current company to convert to part-time
  • What you should say when asking to convert to part time
  • Be ready for your company's response to your request
  • Who to approach (in addition to your manager)
  • The conversation
  • Take Action --> Next Steps

Are you dreaming about a switch to part-time?

I hear from many of you that you want to explore the option to work part-time. You either want to carve out more time for your own business interests or for your personal life.

Is this you too?

Can you relate to one of these situations:

  • The weight of  working full-time, plus everything else you have going on family-wise, has become too much?
  • You want more flexibility in your schedule, to do what you want to do, and not just cater to the demands of work?
  • You want to create more time to grow the side business you've started?
  • You want more balance?
  • You don't want to give up your career completely and the mental challenge that comes with it?
  • You don't want to lose the continuity on your resume?
  • You want to continue making money?

Can you relate to these thoughts about your own balance of work and life?

What's holding you back from pursuing this option?

If working part-time is something you've been considering, what's holding you back? Why aren't you pursuing the idea of part-time work?

Most of the people I talk to don't pursue the part-time option because

  • They don't think it's an option at their current company
  • They don't want to search for a part-time position at a new company
  • They don't want to take a hit to their salary
  • They don't think it's possible
  • They're too busy to pursue a change

What about you?

My story of shifting to a part-time role

I had many of these same feelings. I was working full-time at my company of 12 years and I didn't want to lose my

  • Title
  • Salary
  • Bonuses
  • The people who worked for me that I loved working with and mentoring

At the same time, I was miserable and not showing up as my best self.

The corporate drama had reached an all-time high, while my capacity to manage through it mentally had reached an all-time low. That's not a good combo!

I won't go into all the details here (they're salacious) but just let me say that there were some very unethical practices going on at the company, and it was heartbreaking to see a performance-based culture (I had helped build over the previous 9 or 10 years) crumble.

I was also feeling so conflicted about how much time and energy I wanted to dedicate to work, especially when it was no longer fulfilling.

  • I wanted to spend more time with my almost two year old.
  • I wanted to pursue my own interests and find new challenges.
  • But, I didn't want to let go of the familiar. I knew the role and company  so well (even though it was a hot mess at the time). I knew what it was. The idea of starting over was exhausting to even think about).
  • I didn't feel the energy to pursue something new.

I probably would have "sucked it up" and dealt with this situation forever.

Then, I was forced to resign because my husband's job relocated us.

My husband decided to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming an oral surgeon, which meant he needed to go back to school. He got into the Army's program in Hawaii and so we had to move.

I resigned because working remotely from that distance wasn't realistic.

Then unexpected happened.

The CEO asked me to work part-time as a consultant.

WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?

Truthfully, the answer is:

  • Even though I was an executive, I didn't give myself credit that I could contribute to the organization outside my role at the time. My confidence had tanked as I was trying to figure out how to balance career and motherhood.
  • I wasn't sure I wanted to continue in the organization that, in my opinion, was crumbling.
  • I was exhausted and in survival mode. I was just taking things as they came and not thinking strategically.

After the CEO suggested I switch to part-time, I started to rejuvenate and think about all of this differently. It was exciting because 

  • I would continue to generate money and feel that sense of freedom.
  • I would work on strategic projects that the company had wanted to pursue for a long time but never allocated the resources. We were all working on the day-to-day and operating the business vs. working on strategic initiatives.
  • I could take a step away from the drama that was weighing me down.
  • I would be able to maintain professional relationships and have professional conversations and interactions that I love so much!

Overall, it was a win-win!

I worked in that capacity for over a year or so until we mutually ended the arrangement and I moved to another part-time working with a former colleague.

I was so fortunate I was able to convert into a win-win arrangement that allowed me to pursue the idea of part time work.

What opportunities are there to convert to part-time at your current company? 

I was lucky. The CEO brought up this idea.

I wouldn't have thought of the idea on my own or asked.

Could this be you too?

Are there opportunities at your current company where you could benefit the organization working  part-time employee?

Be creative.

Think about where your skills and the company's needs could intersect:

  • Are there areas in your current business unit that could benefit from a more focused employee, someone who is specialized and dedicated to strategic work?
  • Is there a role that you could design that would increase revenue?
  • Is there a role you could design that would improve efficiency (and reduce cost)?
  • Could you share a job with someone and how would that be a benefit to the company?
  • Could a switch over to part-time benefit the company through cost savings?

The KEY here is to figure out how your company could benefit from a part-time employee and then match that to your skills and interests.

They need to see this is ABOUT THEM, not ABOUT YOU.

This is step one to design your part-time work proposal - think about all the different ways you could benefit your business unit or company in a part-time capacity.

Tips for asking your current company to convert to part-time

So now that you have ideas on how you could benefit your current organization as a part-time employee, let's talk about how to position this and propose your idea to your company.

I will repeat, this is not about YOU, you need to make it ABOUT THEM.

From that mindset, plan out your approach including:

  • What you'll say 
  • Who you'll make the proposal to
  • How you'll address their response

I'll share my tips to design your part-time work proposal. 

What should you say?

First, you'll want to write out and plan your part-time work proposal in as much detail as possible. 

Work out your proposal in advance. Again, it needs to center around how it benefits the company. I can't emphasize that enough.

Think about:

  • What would the part-time role entail? Is it a portion of your current job or another role that you've identified is missing and is key to the organization's success?
  • How does this proposed role map to the organization's overall goals?
  • What is the success criteria you'd propose for this role?
  • How would this proposal specifically benefit your boss - does it help him/her advance a key initiative, does it increase revenue, does it decrease cost, does it add to efficiency?
  • How would it work logistically? Certain hours per day or a few days per week? In the office or remotely?
  • What salary/comp would you propose?
  • Would your title change?
  • Would you report to someone else?
  • If you manage a team, would that change?
  • Is this a deal-breaker for you? If the company doesn't agree, will you continue as-is or look for a new position?
  • Think though every possible question your manager will have and build the answers into your proposal.

Refine your messaging:

  • Let it sit for a few days and then review again. New ideas and ways to refine will jump out.
  • Is there someone outside of the organization, potentially a former colleague or executive, with whom you could practice your messaging?
  • Practice out loud and hear yourself.

Prepare for their response

Next, you'll want to write out responses to anything you anticipate the manager will say to your part-time work proposal.

Think through how you will handle all the manager's possible reactions and your response to those:

  • This is key. Think of all possible objections your manager will have and how you will respond to those.
  • Prepare for them to say  they're open to it and want to discuss in more detail. Have as many details from the list above defined Think of multiple options if possible, to give them ownership of the solution you jointly design.
  • Prepare for them to say no.
  • Prepare that this could damage the way they look at you, and your level of commitment. I would recommend addressing that head on.

Who should you approach (in addition to your manager)?

Then, practice your part-time work proposal in as much detail as possible. 

At some point, you'll need to discuss this proposal with your direct manager.

Before you do, one of the techniques I recommend is to socialize your proposal with a neutral sounding board in the company. 

  • Do you have a mentor in the organization who you trust and can talk to as a sounding board, to refine your messaging and how your proposal would best fit with the corporate strategy and direction?
  • Is there someone in HR who you could approach confidentially, and who would give you input? 
  • Just be sure that you can trust the person(s) you choose. Be cautious that this person won't share your ideas or take this as a sign that you're not as committed as you have been.

This person could help you refine your positioning, and even sell it internally after you've discussed with your manager.

Have the conversation

Now it's time to present your part-time work proposal to your manager.

  • Determine an optimal time. Don's surprise your manager with this topic when you don't have adequate time to discuss or you notice they're particularly stressed.
  • Approach this from the company's perspective, not making it all about you. I keep emphasizing this because it's crucial.
  • Don't get defensive if the manager says no flat-out. You may want to say something like, I know this might be a surprise. Would you be willing to sit on the idea for a few days and then reconvene after it's had time to sink in?
  • Decide in advance how you will handle it if the answer is no. Will you resign, will you emphasize that this was a proposal and in now way reflects a change to your commitment? Be sure you know what you truly want.

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