Our Co-founder and CEO recently received a message from someone in the WORK180 community. The sender was nervous about telling her boss that she’s pregnant and asked the question…
“How do I get the confidence to tell my manager? Should I tell her about the previous discrimination and experience so she can understand where I am coming from?”
Valeria shared the message anonymously in our Facebook Group and there was an outpouring of support. Martine Payne, an HR specialist and member of the WORK180 community, took the time to send us a guide to managing the conversation calmly and confidently. It’s so good we decided to post it here for anyone else in the same situation. Here’s what she had to say…
I recently saw Valeria’s post with your enquiry on LinkedIn and it was upsetting that such a wonderful time in your life can cause you such stress and worry. It is an unfortunate reality that businesses do still exist that can make such short-sighted decisions about their staff, as opposed to promoting a flexible and engaged work environment.
To answer your question about approaching your manager, unfortunately it’s hard for a stranger to share any sage advice as only you have a true understanding of your relationship. But I hope the below may give you some time to consider the best approach that suits you and your relationship with her.
Before the meeting
- Preparation is key. As with any important conversation or presentation, don’t go into it under prepared, or under any time pressure. Have it clear in your mind exactly what you want to say to her, and how much information you want to provide.
- Remove yourself from your work station before your meeting to calm yourself and try and reduce your anxiety in the conversation. Go and step outside for five minutes to clear your head, have a cup of tea, whatever you need to be confident.
- Please don’t go into this meeting running late from another meeting or having just been stopped by someone in the hallway wanting your time. It’s really important that you’re of a clear mind, and aren’t focusing on other people’s problems.
During the meeting
The reality is, there aren’t many ways to tell someone your pregnant; but this is where the preparation is key.
- Know (as much as you can) what your intentions are:
- Estimated first day of leave.
- Time off work.
- How you can facilitate finding your temporary replacement and the handover process.
- Key projects that you’re willing and wanting to finish before you go (shows you’re still committed to the business and its successes).
- Have you considered your return to work? Again, it’s always a benefit to go on the front foot.
- Finally, be armed with the right information, whilst you don’t want to use the legislation if you don’t need to, being prepared with your minimum entitlements is crucial. It ensures they know that you’re aware of your rights, which can be both empowering for you, but also sends a clear message to the business.
She may surprise you and be excited with you about this and really engaged about it. I wouldn’t recommend talking about your previous situation without any prompts, mainly as it could show a lack of trust you have in your relationship with your manager; and trust is fundamental to all relationships.
Finally, I would recommend some counselling or support to help guide this. As I said above, the current work situation shouldn’t mean that you feel anxiety or trauma about what should be a wonderful time of your life. Given the size of the company, I would assume they don’t have an Employee Assistance Program but going to your GP and getting a referral to have an independent person help you develop strategies to combat your concerns can be life changing. I know this from personal experience.
Take care, and congratulations on your pregnancy.