Returning to work after maternity leave may seem like a daunting challenge. But with some clever forward planning and a drive to grow your career, the first day back at work after maternity leave can be a genuine first step forwards for you.
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When you return to work after maternity leave, the approach that you take to returning to work comes down to what you want to achieve as a balance between being a new parent and your future career goals. It may take time to pick up where you left off before maternity as you will have gone through a significant change in your life. Simply things like less sleep due to a new child can have a significant affect on someones drive during the working day. It is important to be realistic about what is achievable both in the short term and long term after returning to work. But you should never feel alone in the process and that is part of our courses for those returning to maternity leave.
If you love your job and want to not just stick with it but grow and expand your career options when you return then we have a few ideas that can help to make the process both more enjoyable and less stressful.
Analyse your existing achievements.
When you are on maternity leave, there is every chance that you may start to doubt yourself. As you get closer to returning to work after maternity leave, you can revisit your career achievements. This can be a great way to plug your mind back into the business thinking process and most importantly, it can remind you of how capable you can be in the workplace.
Refine your leadership methods and style
For so many new mothers, their leadership skills will change in their time away from the office. You may have a new way of looking at priorities and how you adopt and play out leadership tactics. Turn your new skills into plus points that can help you step forwards with your career. Is your leadership style supportive, directive, participative or achievement led?
Supportive Leadership revolves around being supportive of your business team when they are suffering from repetitive work, are stressed at deadlines or lacking confidence.
Directive Leadership is all about producing clear guidance to your team, giving out clear job roles and responsibilities to your staff.
Participation Leadership is all about getting stuck in with the team, helping to motivate them to participate in problem solving and decision making processes to make the overall group stronger.
Achievement led Leadership is all about setting goals for your team, driving confidence in them to achieve these goals that can help boost overall morale in the workplace.
Looking at these example leadership skills – how do they match you now compared to before you had a child?
Baby Steps Back
Whether it is exciting or nerve-raking to be returning to work after maternity leave, you should be looking to rejoin your company slowly (aka baby steps). As a leader in your company, there is naturally a lot expected of you and with that can come extra pressure. By getting back into the role slowly, it can be a lot better for your focus and mental health.
If you can’t come back on a part-time basis then you can possibly ask to have extra days off each week at least in the early weeks and months of returning to work after maternity leave to help manage the stresses that come with returning to work.
Find your feet and find your support team
While you may from time to time feel like you are doing it all alone, there will be others in the office environment who have ‘been there, done that’. There can be so much power to be found in talking about your experiences with other mothers. Instead of holding onto your feelings inside, by finding a community within your workplace to become your support team, you can find an easier transition not just to returning to work after maternity leave but to finding new leadership allies in the workplace that you may never have know existed before you left to have a baby.
Keep in touch with the office gossip and news
We are talking more about the day to day business runnings of the office rather than what happened at the Christmas Party. Has there been any new personnel hires since you went away on maternity leave? Has there been a shuffle in job positions, leadership hires/fires and even the layout of desks and office space. It may seem small but these can make a big difference in the early days of returning to work.
The same goes with logins for any new software, computers, photocopiers (the list goes on). If the company has adopted a new software to manage customer databases, being able to learn the new system while you are on maternity leave can help you to more seamlessly return to the working flow of day to day business within the company and make yourself feel more comfortable on your first day back.
Is the companies goals the same as when you left. The modern business world is a fast changing environment and not all companies still look to promote the same core message to their customers.
Confident Steps and Confident Thinking
When you return to work after maternity leave, being able to step back into your role as a company leader with confidence can help act as a spring board for future career advancement.
Our Returners Program is targeted at those who are either currently on maternity leave or are preparing to return to work as well as those that have recently returned to work (in the last 6 months). The courses are designed to help establish personal motivation for returners. This covers the guilt and negative emotions that are completely natural and to be expected when you first have to leave your child at home/in child care/nursery for the first time.
Our Returners Coaching Program is designed to help improve your confidence and self-belief, learn new techniques to help you communicate your boundaries and prepare for the conversations of a work environment. It acts as a powerful platform for those returning to work after maternity leave and for powering you on to bigger and better things for the future of your career.
Upon completion of our 2019 Women in Leadership Programme, those who attended recorded the following:
Of those that we have surveyed, 69% have taken on extra responsibilities within their current role while 23% had gone on to take a new role within the company by the end of the training programme.
If you would like to know more about Skills4 and our Returners Program, please click here >>>