Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2018

79 - Shadowing

from Section 3 - Activities and tools



JOB SHADOWING IS an informal process where one staff member works alongside either a more experienced colleague or someone who is doing a different job. Individuals can shadow colleagues within the organization, or arrangements can be made to shadow in external organizations within either the same or different sectors. The benefits of shadowing for the individual are that they gain experience, make contacts, expand their knowledge and may develop a greater understanding of a different area of work. Taylor (2013) writes about her experience as a teacher librarian in an Australian school, about using job shadowing to overcome isolation, share experience and network with others.

As a manager or supervisor of staff, you can use shadowing to keep existing staff engaged, helping them to develop new skills or services. You could also offer opportunities to students or staff from other organizations, inviting them to shadow one of your team. This is a good way of contributing to the profession, but also of scouting for new talent and growing your own team. In larger organizations, you could make arrangements for LKS staff to shadow other professionals to gain a greater understanding of user needs and to spot opportunities to develop new services. For example, in a university an LKS professional could shadow an academic member of staff or, in the NHS, shadow a clinician.

Shadowing scenarios

Below are a number of scenarios where shadowing could be considered:

  • • A new staff member shadowing an existing staff member doing the same job is a good way to learn the ropes, understand organizational values and get them up to speed. Shadowing the person who is leaving the post can be an excellent way of keeping the organizational memory and maintaining former staff talent (About Money, 2015).
  • • A new or existing staff member could visit a different organization which is offering a similar service to learn about the role, develop new skills and implement revised processes. This could be a good way of building networks and finding a mentor.
  • • An existing staff member could shadow LKS staff from other departments. This would work really well in a large higher educational service, where staff could work with other teams to develop their own skills, bring in new methods of working and generate ideas (Foley, Barbrow and Hartline, 2015).
  • Related content

    Powered by UNSILO