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Mat Leave not Mat Left

Published in The Briefcase Diaries column at www.weewelcome.ca, November 25, 2005

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As a manager, I’ve groaned when a valued team member announced she was pregnant. As a human resources professional, I’ve talked many other managers through their “what am I going to do?” concerns.


It’s not easy committing to delivering bottom-line results and then finding out that one of your top performers won’t be there for twelve months.


Regardless of who is filling your shoes, when you’re on maternity leave, your team is ikely experiencing some hardship. The person filling in for you needs to be trained and needs extra support. Your manager and colleagues are reluctant to call you with questions.


It’s ultimately up to you to decide how much you want to stay in touch. Equally, it’up to you to keep communication lines open. Your colleagues don’t have time to initiate the contact with you, but they will welcome your efforts to stay in touch.


The challenge will be to stay connected without being sucked into doing work that you’re not getting paid for.  Having said that, if you want to do a little work from home, go ahead. Talk to your boss about banking the time so that when you’re back full-time you can have some flexibility to take some paid days off when you need to get the baby to the pediatrician or be at home when he’s sick.

Why stay in touch?

Don’t let change pass you by
In today’s fast paced environments, organizations undergo a lot of change in a year. If you don’t stay in touch with what’s going on while you’re away, it will be even harder to re-integrate when you return.

Don’t be a casualty of “out of sight, out of mind”
Make sure your manager and other senior leaders know you’re committed to your career and that you would like to be considered for new positions if opportunities arise while you’re away.

Stay engaged
If you have been a career-focused woman, being at home can be very isolating and stressful. Staying connected to work can help keep your new role from being all-consuming.

How do I stay in touch?

Attend important staff meetings
Leave the baby with a sitter and dress for the office.

Peruse your mail
Ask a colleague to send your mail to you once every two weeks. Read it. Pay particular attention to information about organizational change and other large initiatives.

Ask that important e-mails about organizational changes and initiatives be sent to your home e-mail address. Think about what issues are important to you and ensure you offer your feedback and comments if appropriate.

Be available
Offer to be available in case the team needs or wants your help or input. Let the team know what times work best and how to reach you.

Attend company functions
Christmas Party, Recognition Awards, Family Fun Day, Employee Appreciation Day are good ways to reconnect with co-workers.



Karen Todd is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant. She can be reached at 416-284-6752, karen@karentodd.com , or visit www.karentodd.com

Other Articles by Karen Todd
Considering a move to reduced work hours?
Published in The Briefcase Diaries column at www.weewelcome.ca  February 14, 2006
Lessons learned from bad HR bosses
Published in the Canadian HR Reporter, May 9, 2005
Next to the CEO, the leader of the HR function can be the most influential and important person in an organization.
Creating a culture of feedback
360-degree feedback can be a way of life, not a program you impose
(Published in the Canadian HR Reporter, September 13, 2004)
Connect with line managers and open the firm up to HR:
To play a lead role in organizational effectiveness HR must first gain manager’s trust.
(Published in the Canadian HR Reporter, November 8, 2004)
Executive Assistants must use power, influence wisely.
(Published in the Executive Assistant Update newsletter – December 2004)
Tell employees why they’re not getting promoted
Feedback can help staff avoid bitterness and maybe even get the next posting
(Published in the Globe and Mail, Career Section, September 15, 2002)
Very promising, very demanding
High potential employees often avoid lateral moves that would help them in the future
(Published in the Canadian HR Reporter, September 22, 2003)
“Once Upon a Time…”
Tell a Story Instead

Published in York University Human Resources Student Association’s
The Network Newsletter, Edition 2, March 2005)
Planning an Employee Meeting:
Model the future you’re trying to create
Where Has Common Sense Gone?
A Grocery Store Service Saga
Ditch the Cape, Supermom
Published in The Briefcase Diaries column at www.weewelcome.ca,  October 7, 2005

Is Working From Home For You?
Unexpected Choices
(Published in the Canadian Down Syndrome Society Quarterly Newsletter, Winter 2005, Vol 18.1)
Please be Balanced: A Parent’s Ask of Healthcare Professionals
Published in the Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities’ Journal on Development Disabilities
Vol 12 No 1

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