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.