Keeping Mum

Definition: Middle English, perhaps imitative of closing one's lips

 

You’ll notice that this post is anonymous. The reason for this is not because I’m embarrassed to be expecting a baby. It’s because at work, nobody has told my clients yet.

As any of you who work in a consultancy or services industry may also be feeling, despite the many policies, promises and precedents that have been set, you taking maternity leave might be viewed as “strategically” awkward for your firm by management.

You might have got the feeling, like me, that by getting pregnant, you’re jeopardizing client relationships because clients will be annoyed by the lack of continuity? Perhaps you’re being made to feel that you’re creating work for others?

So, by using the old Grace Kelly Hermes trick combined with some creative scarf arrangements, you glide into client meetings and get behind the meeting table before they do.

But let’s get real here shall we? This blog is about our health, so a quick ‘head wobble’, as my sister would say, is required.

Once both sides are over the initial “WTF shall we do?” moment, and the dreaded “she’s going to be leaving us for a while” conversation has occurred, things will settle quickly.

You’ve probably worked with women who’ve got pregnant before? When they went on leave, did the business grind to a halt? I doubt it. Clients are women, parents and professionals. They know that pregnancy happens and they trust suppliers to put their best available team on the job. This will happen.

Your absence will create more opportunities for junior colleagues to shine as they pick up your work. Senior colleagues will maintain an even keel. Clients and colleagues wish you and your baby well, but the world keeps turning, and it’s not worth us worrying ourselves sick about in these last months before leave.

So what should we do? Make suggestions, leave a clear path, compliment your successor and build your client’s confidence.

So even though it feels a bit silly ignoring what, by the mid-point of the second trimester, most people can see, I suggest making it less stressful by leaving the communication of your news to your managers. In a way, it’s their business, not yours.

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benjy davila

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