“I’m pregnant." What to do when your team is “expanding”.
As a manager you may be minding your own business, having a coffee, catching up on the news, when in walks one of your female employees and to speak with you for a minute. Either she’s quitting, or she’s pregnant. If it’s the latter, you need to be ready to respond in a professional manner.
Here are a few tips!
1. Be happy for her! Leave the cynical remarks for everyone else. No matter if it’s her first or fifth, be genuinely elated.
2. Don’t make her feel bad, even in jest, for leaving you in a “bind” with work. If you have second thoughts about this, refer to number 1.
3. Ask her what you can do to be help support her during this time. Does she have morning sickness and want to come in later? (if that helps?!) If it’s later in the pregnancy, maybe her back aches and you can arrange a more supportive chair or footrest.
4. Let her know in advance that any time she needs to take off for doctor visits and the like are obviously 100% OK and she doesn’t have to fret or feel badly about missing time in the office. Undoubtedly she will anyway, so keep reminding her!
5. Start planning well in advance on how to divvy up her work be it with a temp, or with outsourcing it to the team. Keep her as actively involved as possible in the process so she feels comfortable and in control.
6. Talk with her about what she can handle as opposed to deciding for her. True, stress is not always the best thing for a pregnant woman but don’t assume she doesn’t want a certain intense project or time consuming client simply because she is pregnant. Let her decide.
7. Don’t penalize her for being pregnant when it comes to advancements or raises. If she’s a talented employee and a management position need filling, don’t deny her an opportunity simply because she won’t be around for a few months. You are doing her, the company and all it’s employees a major disservice.
8. If you are hiring a temp during her maternity leave, try not to use the word “replacement”. She isn’t being replaced, she is being filled in for.
9. Hopefully you work in an organization with a functioning HR department who knows how to handle maternity leave but if not, make sure someone speaks to her about her benefits, insurances, car, phone, etc and how it’s all handled during her leave. Be sure she goes off with as clear a picture possible.
10. Get input! Talk with your HR rep, other managers, other women, or anybody who can help you put your best foot forward and avoid any obvious mistakes. Learning from others is always a simple yet effective way to stay clear of potential landmines.
Your care, concern, and compassion for a pregnant team member will speak volumes to your team about your leadership skills. So, when you hear those two fateful words, rejoice for her and rejoice in your opportunity as well to display some top notch leadership!
Have anything to add? I would love to hear it!