We know exactly where you are at. You’re nervous, stressed and anxious about telling your manager. Even those of us who have incredible relationships with our bosses still found this conversation the most difficult one throughout the whole journey. It’s hard enough telling your family, let alone your boss!
Sometimes you just have to rip off the Band Aid. We promise that it will be a huge relief and allow you to really start enjoying and planning for your leave.
We have five very simple steps. Follow these and the conversation will be a lot easier.
1. Don’t let your manager find out from colleagues that you’re pregnant
It’s critical that you maintain the respect of your manager, even if you are close friends with colleagues. Unfortunately, the world we now live in is defined by social media. You don’t want to risk telling a friend and asking them to promise not to tell a soul, only to find out they have slipped it into a post on Facebook. Trust us, it happens.
2. Determine the right time for you
This is a very personal decision and only one that you can decide. The majority of women will wait until the 12-week mark, but some may decide to tell their manager early. Think about some of the reasons that may lead you to talking to your manager early:
- severe morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms
- any complications with your pregnancy (high risk, IVF etc)
- the safety of your workplace
- the type of job that you are doing
3. Do your homework and be prepared
The majority of organisations will have their parental leave and policies easily accessible on their intranet/portal. Spend some time reviewing this and understanding what is available to you in terms of leave and benefits. A lot of women struggle with this, specifically locating the right information, and then feel they cannot ask as they do not feel confident or know who to reach out to in HR. Remember, the HR department is there to help you with these types of questions and they must maintain your confidentiality. We suggest having a read of our article How to secretly find out about your organisation’s parental leave policy.
When you meet with your manager, we strongly suggest that you have an initial plan. This does not need to be detailed, but we suggest discussing things like:
- Anticipated doctor’s appointments—work with your manager to try and schedule appointments far in advance so he or she can manage them appropriately.
- Any complications that may interrupt your work.
- An estimated start date for parental leave—think about if you are going to start your maternity leave before or after the baby is born.
You know your manager best, so try to anticipate his or her reaction and questions he or she may have in response. Being prepared will help ease your anxiety.
4. Schedule a catch up—don’t just casually announce it at the next team meeting!
We cannot stress this enough. Set up an actual meeting and don’t present this news casually. Yes, we have heard of women announcing it in the middle of team meetings, to the surprise of their boss!
We personally suggest a coffee catch up (if that is common in your workplace) so the conversation is more relaxed and personal. If this isn’t possible, schedule a meeting when best suits your manager. For example, don’t schedule it before an important strategy meeting or when you know your manager may be busy or pre-occupied. Find the right time for both of you. We know that finding the right words can be difficult and so we have a suggested email to send to your manager to request this meeting.
5. Be confident and professional, but most importantly be yourself
Don’t apologise for being pregnant. Do not feel bad. You’re not going to ruin your boss’s life by having a child. Your boss will no doubt be happy for you, but it’s also important to remember that their mind will be racing as to what this means for them and their team. Reactions will be different and range from, “Oh shit” to “Wonderful” to “What the hell am I going to do?” That’s okay, as your job is to reassure them that you are committed and want to work together to make the transition as smooth as possible. (We have drafted a sample conversation guide for you and you can find the link below). Feel free to use and tweak it to suit your needs and your individual personality.
We promise you that you will feel a lot better once you can begin proactively making plans with your boss for your parental leave and return to work. We encourage you to send a follow up email after the meeting (we have a suggested email template for that, too.)
Written by the team at Circle In