Often when a team member announces she is pregnant, the onus is on her to manage her exit and then, all going well, her return. By breaking this transition down into three key phases, we help mothers and their managers approach this stage from both angles. If you imagine a three legged stool, one is the mother, one the manager and one the organisation; they all have to be aligned to ensure that stool stays standing!
For the manager of a new mum, it’s a transition into a new team structure (without the mother), sometimes with a replacement for a short period of time, which requires the team to transition again when the mother returns to that team.
To ensure successful transitions from a manager’s perspective, consider the following:
As a manager, one of your team advises you they are pregnant. First and foremost, congratulate them! It may be a shock, but remember a manager who seems to care is a manager they will come back to work for. Once you (and possibly they) have got over the shock:
Your team member departs for parental leave, leaving you with a changed team.
To ensure your team member remains engaged while absent, again, first and foremost congratulate them when the baby comes along. Perhaps give them a phone call to see how mother and baby are doing. Many mothers we work with hugely appreciate a phone call, even if it ends up being a voicemail message.
This is the stage where lots of returning mums fall off the career track and their talent is lost as a result of either returning to a role with less challenge or deciding not to return at all. This re-entry phase is hugely important.
To ensure a successful transition back to work consider the following:
Our research shows that the manager is a major factor in whether the transition back to work is successful or not for a returning mum. So think carefully about how you can best support the mother and the team through this period.