Like Learning to Ride a Bike

This Labor Day weekend has been stressful.  Not because I had to work while everyone was off sunbathing by the lake but because I was off and decided to tackle a project that I really didn’t want to do.

That project?  Re-teaching my 8 year old son how to ride his bike.   Sounds easy because re-teaching should just take a gentle nudge, an encouraging word or a trip down memory lane to recollect about how he rode his bike last summer.  As a matter of fact, he rode his bike just two weeks ago.  But, two weeks ago he also fell off his bike (in the grass so don’t shed too many tears) and that led to the drama that we have experienced over the holiday.

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The Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Julie Steinberg wrote a nice article that encapsulated the four rules you need to remember about your maternity leave.  I’ve linked to the article at the end of this post.  I wanted to expand a bit on her rules and ask you all if you’d add any more rules to the list.

1.  Start the conversation early

I was glad to see that the women Julie referred to in the article recommended letting managers know sooner than later.   The 12 week mark seems to be a good time to let people know.  You’d want to share the news sooner if you are having an especially tough time with morning sickness or you are high risk and may need accommodations during your pregnancy.  

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When Work and Family Collide – Missing the Big School Event

I really love Fast Company magazine and I was perusing their site the other day and stumbled upon this oldie but goodie.  Funny to think that 2007 is an oldie but in our world it’s so five years ago! But the concept of the article was timeless.  Here’s the scenario:  Cali Williams Yost, the author and well known expert on worklife issues, had been invited to a national gathering of flexibility experts.  Sounds awesome right?  Just the group to affect change in the world!

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Poor Performer Because I’m Pregnant? What Your Boss Really Thinks

I’ve talked to a few women who fear that their pregnancy or new mother status will reflect poorly on their manager’s and coworkers’ views of their performance.  In general I see it coming up as a concern when a women perceives that people are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or is a new mom.

Although there are thousands of scenarios, this difference of treatment can usually be traced back to a few root causes:

  • Most frequently I see that managers and co-workers are concerned about offending the new mom and they get weirded out and act strange.  Sometime they walk on eggshells and keep their distance so they don’t say the wrong thing.  In particular I’ve seen that men who work with pregnant women can be unsure of what they can say.  To the new mom, this can come off as being excluded, shut out or even shunned.  I recommend that if the new mom feels comfortable, that she just break the ice and  help everyone she works with ease into this transition.  You’ll get it all out in the open and know for sure where you stand.
  • The managers and co-workers are jerks and really are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or a new mom.  Unfortunately this does happen but I wouldn’t jump to it as the first conclusion.   If you are comfortable, speak with your manager about the situation.  If that’s not an option, speaking confidentially with HR can help sort things out.
  • Sometimes the mother’s performance really has dipped because of the physical and mental demands on her.  Most managers are understanding of this temporary situation.  Initiate the conversation and you may find that there are opportunities to adjust your workload or schedule to help during this time.
  • And finally, there are some mothers who have checked out and unfortunately used the excuse of  “I’m pregnant” or “I’m a new mom” to let their performance slide.  These few moms may have ruined it for the rest of us and you want to be sure that you aren’t inadvertently becoming one of  “those employees”.  Ask a trusted co-worker for feedback on your performance.  Meet frequently with your manager for status updates and to get a clear understanding of their expectations and whether or not you’re meeting them.
You may find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re being treated differently.  Think through your situation, talk it over with non-biased third parties and then determine what you want to do about it.
If you’ve been in this spot and have some words of wisdom, I’d love to hear from you.