It's always nerve wrecking to tell work that you're having a baby, "I'm pregnant and oh yeah and I'd like a year off please...." but even more so during the current climate where many people are worried about keeping their jobs. I spoke to the wonderful Rachel from A Different Me for her top tips on how to navigate this chat with your manager and come out of it on top. Rachel is a women's coach who focuses on you having a sustainable and enjoyable work and life blend. She wants to make work “work” for mums. With a background in technology sales, she has seen many brilliant & badass women struggle to maintain hard fought careers once they have kids. So after her second maternity leave decided to do something about it and set up A Different Me.
Rachel says: So, the bump is starting to show, you are feeling suitably exhausted and you are starting to get your head around the fact that you are going to have a bloody baby!! This took a while to sink in for me despite the never-ending heartburn, sore boobs and
knee buckling tiredness.
The initial excitement at finding out you are pregnant is often replaced by your second thought as a working mum of - “how the
f**k am I GOING TO TELL MY BOSS?! .Unfortunately, it will always feel like the wrong time in the financial year, project cycle, client deal, team reorganisation – the list goes on as to why not now to share your news (working mum guilt kick’s in early I am
afraid). However especially this year in the midst of a pandemic as we bounce in and out of lockdown the anxiety about how
being pregnant may affect your work prospects will I am sure be even more acute.
It is indeed a sobering fact that working mums have born much of the brunt of the pandemic on both the home & work fronts –often taking the lion’s share of the childcare & domestic duties subsequently losing out financially and career wise and for many being furloughed at a much higher rate than men…including pregnant women.
However, you are pregnant it may not feel like an ideal time – but it is just the time, and so you need a plan.
First of all, take a breath and steady yourself, work back from the disaster scenario that you have kicked off in your head and think positively. Managers are people and therefore in the majority of cases will be delighted for you in the first instance although the response or wording may not always be as helpful or appropriate as you would like (but that’s for another week). I know that telling your manager can be a daunting process as you may well be concerned about your role – with good reason unfortunately in many cases, and the subsequent implications for your career, manager, and your wider team all within the context of a Covid world feel scary. However, you can take certain steps to manage this conversation that can really help set you up for a controlled and positive dialogue hopefully
giving you the best opportunity to create the outcome that you want.
Top tips for telling your manager:
1- Get educated – start by really doing your research. Knowing what your rights are, what support is available to you, what the expectations are on you, what your company policy is and what the government guidelines are all mean that you can enter into the conversation with your manager in a calm & knowledgeable way (you will likely know more than them!). As well as standard policy information – use great resources like ACAS, TUC, and campaigns like
@pregnantthenscrewed or @working families to understand the amended regulations for COVID. This knowledge will help stop you becoming flustered, and feeling on the back foot when questions arise and allows you to write down any questions you have in advance. Although legally you don’t have any obligation to tell you manager until 15 weeks before your due date (check your company policy) – most women choose to share their news at around 3 months when the risks have reduced, allowing enough time for planning the transition and attending your antenatal
appointments. If you happy to share in this first meeting your due date and any medical appointments, you have booked it allows your manager the opportunity to start planning. Finally, it is always good to check how much holiday entitlement you have remaining so you can tack on to your maternity leave.
2- Treat this conversation professionally. Although it is a super exciting time – remain the professional by sharing your news with HR &your manager before you share around the office. It really doesn’t start the discussion well if they have already heard the “gossip”. Although unfounded the perception remains that once a woman becomes pregnant, she can be distracted at work – although I firmly disagree with this BS– let’s not help perpetuate this nonsense by
compromising our usual professional approach.
3- Get it in the diary. Sometimes with hard conversations we just want to get them over with so have a tendency to blurt out your news at the end of a meeting or a team call. Despite the urge, please resist doing this. Book a slot in their diary so that you both have adequate time to discuss this amazing life change – after all this is a once in a lifetime experience to share that you are pregnant with your first baby!
4- Timing is everything - So consider it! As in Tip one you set yourself up for less conflict and stress if you share your news early (but when you are ready) this giving yourself, your manager and team the best opportunity to plan an effective transition. But also think about the timing for the meeting that you book – Monday mid-way through forecast calls may not be ideal as your managers may be distracted. Might it be better to schedule your meeting for first thing
in the morning?
5- Breath and breath again. Calm your nerves by taking a few deep breaths. Aim to be confident and positive in your approach to the conversation. This is an exciting change for you and setting this type of tone for the dialogue can effectively set the tone for the remainder of your transition period.
Coming soon – top 5 tips for managing a great departure for maternity leave!
For more information and to contact Rachel if you are a mum who might need some support or work for a company who could use her valuable insight to help plan check out her website. www.ADifferentMe.co.uk