What Happens If You Work for “Neanderthal Inc.”?

I am so excited to share a special guest post from my husband and biggest supporter.  Take a few minutes to hear his perspective on maternity leave.

For starters, I’m really proud of my wife for doing the Maternity Leave Coach blog and helping get useful topics/hints/suggestions out there that working women can use when they are on the verge of experiencing the most amazing event they will ever experience in their life. My wife asked me to chime in on a guest post, so we chatted about what I’ve experienced in my working life.

For starters, I’ve had a knack in my working life for working around and with companies that could also be labeled as “Neanderthal Inc.”  By that I mean that they are typically male dominated and may have a culture that is gruff and quite frankly doesn’t understand women and how to work with them or develop them so they are vital parts of the organization. Fortunately, my wife has mostly worked for large companies that have had fairly progressive policies when it comes to women and typically would go above any federal minimums when it came to maternity leave and benefits like that. So, it’s safe to say we’ve had different experiences over our almost 20+ years working. We were talking about her blog recently (did I mention I’m proud of her?) and why some women might not want to tell their managers they are pregnant or that they might be nervous about their future when there are laws to protect them. Here are some observations I’ve made over the years.

Read moreWhat Happens If You Work for “Neanderthal Inc.”?

When to Tell the Boss…Again

I just visited Corporette.com and they’ve recently written a post about when you should announce your pregnancy at work.

The comments are great and I’d recommend you take a read to get a good understanding of all the ins and outs that other women have faced when deciding when to share their news.

Personally, I still side with the “earlier the better” camp because I just like to have the air clear.  But I completely understand if anyone else lands in a different spot.

P.S.  While you’re at Corporette.com check out this great post on wearing button down shirts.  If you are a mom who is bursting at the seams, you’ll definitely appreciate their advice!

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.  

Read moreThe Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Doctor Visits and Work – Planning for Pregnancy Care

“Will my boss let me off to go to my doctor’s appointments?” is a common question that I’ve heard from women newly pregnant who are actively involved in the workforce. If you consider that most pregnant women have between ten and 15 prenatal visits over the course of nine months, it’s understandable that this would be a concern.

To answer the question of whether or not your employer will let you off of work, I’ll answer with the “spirit” and then the” letter” of the law. From a “spirit” perspective, most employers will be understanding and as long as you aren’t pulling a fast one with your appointments, they will be accommodating. They will allow for the time off either from sick time allocation through FMLA or if you prefer, from your vacation allotment.

Read moreDoctor Visits and Work – Planning for Pregnancy Care

What Did Your Boss Really Say? True Stories of Telling Them You’re Pregnant

Tell Boss You're PregnantAs I hear from working women about their trials and tribulations of pregnancy and maternity leave, one of the hot topics is always “when/how to tell your boss you’re pregnant”.  There is so much fear and concern about how the manager will respond.

I have a theory that most of the fear about telling the boss comes from myths and legends, but I could be wrong (I hope I am).  I actually think that in most cases the manager is willing to work with you as best they know how.  That’s the deal, most don’t know how so the whole thing gets awkward and clunky.

So, here’s where you come in… I need your stories.  What REALLY happened when you told your boss you were pregnant?  Comment here with your story and please share this with the other working women you know who would have a story to share.

Thanks!  Let’s get those comments rolling in.

Flexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

I just read a great post on NYTimes.com about how one mom achieves more balance (and efficiency) by starting work later and leaving for home earlier.  You may say, “Wow, where do I find that fantasy job?” or “Does she also commute to work on a unicorn?”  As unrealistic as it may seem, there are moms (and dads) out there who actually work a reduced work schedule.  It doesn’t happen for everyone but I do have to say that it will never happen for you if you don’t ask.

My son was four when I finally worked up the courage to let someone know that I’d like to reduce my hours to spend more time at home.  The proposition of him starting kindergarten and not being to pick him up from school and help with homework was really getting me down.  Luckily for me, on my new manager’s first day she asked about my career goals.  I figured it was now or never so I blurted out, “I’d like to reduce my hours.”  It seemed so bold and gutsy and it played in slow motion over and over in my head after I walked out of her office.  Had I just committed career suicide?

Read moreFlexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

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.

 

First Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 2

I’m sure you were on pins and needles thinking “When is she going to post Part 2?”  Wait for it…. Ok, now.

Let’s pick up where we left off in Part 1.  Read it here http://is.gd/gwXGL1

Thank heavens for smart phones.   I’d recommend that you consolidate your work and home calendars if possible.   Seeing it all on your phone just makes things that much easier.  My husband and I even share one family calendar that we can both see and update through our family Yahoo! e-mail.  Merge your contacts too.  Merging contacts and calendars on your smart phone may be a little tricky if it’s paid for by your company and is really their property, not yours so check that out first.

Read moreFirst Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 2

Don’t Ask, Do Tell – When to let them know you’re expecting

When should you let your employer know that you have a baby on the way?  I’m sure there are varying opinions but in general I’d say the sooner the better.  Here are some reasons why:

  1. If you were the boss, you’d like to know.  Let’s put their shoe on your ever expanding maternity foot.  Fast forward one year and you’ve fallen in love with your nanny/child care provider.  They’re dependable, they do an excellent job and they’d be super hard to replace.  Then one day they show up and tell you that they’re taking the next three months off and you’re required to hold their job for them while they’re gone.  Huh?!?  You’d freak out!  You don’t have a back up because they’re the only one you want and you didn’t have time to make a plan.

    Read moreDon’t Ask, Do Tell – When to let them know you’re expecting