The Who, When & How Of Sharing Your Pregnancy News At Work

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post

Congratulations! You are expecting a baby. Whether it was planned or unexpected, whether it’s your first baby or the fifth one, each woman experiences a surge of emotions on finding out the news. Among many other things that are involved in the preparation for the baby’s arrival, breaking the news to your boss is one which requires a lot of deliberation.

You should be thrilled to share the news, but be prepared for your boss to panic on hearing about it, even if it’s (hopefully) just momentarily. Here are some ways that can help you in communicating the special news.

Who to First Share the News With

No matter how tempted you are to reveal this news to your work buddies, avoid falling into the trap of telling everyone else before your boss. The latter should be one first one to know.

Anticipate your manager’s reaction, especially if this is the first time they will be working with a pregnant employee. If your company has had little or no experience with pregnant employees, it might help to provide them with information on your legal rights. It’s perfectly okay to ask your boss to keep the news confidential unless you feel ready to share it with everyone else.

[Related: What is Corporate America Getting Wrong with Their Female Talent]

When to Share the News

Legally, you don’t need to tell your employer of your pregnancy and intention to take maternity leave until 15 weeks before your baby is due, regardless of where you work.

Most women announce their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester (at about 12 weeks). There are several advantages of telling your boss sooner rather than later. The more planning and preparation involved before you leave, the easier it will be for you both to manage the transition smoothly.  An employer’s responsibility of care for a pregnant employee does not come into effect until you have formerly informed your employer in writing.

 

Once aware, the employer must take action to deal with health and safety issues. Your employer is now liable to ensure that you are not exposed to any potential threats or safety risks involving your working conditions or hours of work. Alternate work can be suggested on the same terms and conditions, but if neither is possible then you are entitled to be suspended with full pay until the risks are eliminated. After the formal intimation, you are protected against unfavorable treatment resulting from any pregnancy-related discrimination. Read more about this at the Pregnancy Related Discrimination-Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

Any pregnancy-related sickness needs to be recorded separately and must not be used against you in any disciplinary, redundancy or dismissal decisions. You are entitled to reasonable paid time off for your antenatal care, including classes recommended by a registered medical practitioner along with appointments. You will have to provide proof of the same when asked.

How to Share the News

“The more time for planning and preparation you and your employer have before you leave, the easier both of you will find it when you return,” says Abigail Wood, public affairs manager at the NCT. It also presents you as a thorough professional who is committed to organization goals. Consult your GP or midwife regarding suitable dates for starting your leave. The UK government site states that the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before your expected week of childbirth, but it is really up to you to decide depending on your own health and circumstances.

Pregnant working women in America are subject to different maternity rights unlike those enjoyed by women in almost all other developed countries especially in terms of a guaranteed paid maternity leave.

[Related: 10 Things You Need To Know About Maternity Leave In The US]

Avoid sharing the news casually. Schedule a special appointment with your boss to reveal the news. During the discussion be open and honest, and do not apologize as this is a special experience for you and nothing to be sorry about. Anticipate their concerns and be prepared to address them; for example, how the maternity leave will affect your work. Be aware of your own goals and don’t feel hesitant to reiterate past accomplishments that are evidence of the value you have provided to the organization.

[Related: Reacting to Pregnancy in the Workplace and What it Means for the Company]

Also, be equipped with research on your company’s policies and procedures as well as your own rights in this regard. In this meeting, you should be open to discussing ideas of Flex-timing in the future along with information on all important dates such as due date, appointment dates, etc. Devise a plan and agree on dates for handover, staying in touch, performance reviews, as well as resuming work. It will be a good idea to schedule your annual leave at this time as well.

You have worked hard to climb that corporate ladder and, understandably, you may be concerned about how the news of your pregnancy might impact your career. Organizations should do their part as well and endeavor to build an inclusive culture so that expectant moms do not feel left out. Do not feel too disappointed if you receive less than an enthusiastic response at work. It’s not that they don’t care or are not happy for you. Firstly, they might not be adequately prepared on how to respond appropriately, especially if it’s a first-time experience for them. And secondly, concerns regarding your leave and its subsequent impact on team goals might be too pressing a concern for them to express otherwise.

At all times, reassure those you work with of your commitment to the organization, its goals, and your own role objectives.

If you feel that your organization is treating you badly because you have informed them that you are pregnant, then free legal advice and support is available online. Remember that you are not the first one to go on leave. Do not feel responsible or guilty. Yes, the news will come with a lot of changes in the existing work situation for both you and your manager, but in today’s work environment, if there is anything constant, it’s change — and every manager must be prepared to deal with that.

Hira Ali is Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise. She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, and Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner. You can contact her at hiraali@advancingyourpotential.com

 

7 Coping Strategies to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post

We all experience a feeling of inadequacy regarding our self-worth and whether or not, we are qualified enough to achieve something, especially when we are pushed outside our comfort zone or doing something for the first time. Some people feel the same, despite repeated, external evidence of competence. This fear or feeling is called Impostor Syndrome. This term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline and Suzanne and is marked by a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” and an inability to internalize accomplishments. According to HBR, common thoughts and feelings associated with this syndrome include; ‘I must not fail, ‘,’I feel like a fake’, ‘It’s all down to luck’, ‘Success is no big deal’

I had these feelings too, every time I delivered training to Senior Managers. When my target audience changed from being local to global, despite having international accreditations, I still thought, I needed to add more credentials to my name until I felt qualified enough to cater to the latter.

And, I am not the only one.

Millions of people including celebrities, sportsmen and CEO’s have been plagued by constant self-doubt and feeling of unworthiness. Hollywood star, Meryl Streep, Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization and Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou are all examples of famous people who have expressed inadequacy in their work, and hinted the fear of being found out. Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Pfeifer, Kate Winslet, Sonia Sotomayor and countless others have admitted to similar sentiments. High achieving people particularly, often doubt themselves and feel undeserving of the recognition they receive. While both men and women experience the impostor syndrome, studies show that women are more often affected and more likely to suffer the consequences. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women says; “Being female means you and your work automatically stand a greater chance of being ignored, discounted, trivialized, devalued or otherwise taken less seriously than a man’s.” It is hence no surprise, why women tend to question their abilities and feel inferior, all the more.

So what can you do to limit the negative impact of Impostor Syndrome?

  1. Identify the feelings: The first important step is to recognize that you are experiencing these feelings. Awareness is the key to bringing about a change in the way you think and act. The moment you know and say what it is, you are opening yourself to different possibilities of handling it.
  2. Let it out: There may be many others, who share the same fears as you. By sharing your concerns you may find out that you are not in this alone which makes the fear far more bearable. Seek support from those who identify with your belief and have effectively conquered it.
  3. Reconsider your perception of failure: It is okay, to be wrong, to fail or to not know everything: Occasionally being wrong or not knowing everything doesn’t make you fake or non-deserving. Remind yourself that you will learn more as you progress. Top notch teams sometimes lose, the best players often miss the goal, and there are many million dollar businesses that sometimes fail as well. Evaluate the impact of what could go wrong by asking yourself; ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ This will help mitigate the fear. Most importantly, reframe the failure as an opportunity to learn. Always remember, no one really knows the outcome. The fact that you are trying even when you are unsure makes you admirable and not fake.
  4. Reaffirm your self-worth: Accept your success and be kind to yourself. Don’t shy away or dismiss compliments by attributing your success to external factors. Own it! When you feel undeserving, go back and review previous accomplishments or positive feedbacks. Recount the people whom you made a difference to. This will help assure you that nobody belongs here more than you do. No one is telling you to be ostentatious, but downplaying your success will help no one.
  5. Refrain from comparison: Comparison can be lethal. There are many famous people out there who are doing similar to what you do and even better so why bother; you might as well not do anything at all. But this is not a justified comparison. If you don’t measure up against successful people around you, that doesn’t mean you are any less. Never compares other people’s highs to your lows Remember, these very successful people were in your place once. It may even seem that some people achieve success effortlessly but the reality everyone is facing a unique set of challenges and struggles, known only to them. Learn to value your own strengths and once you start respecting your own potential, you will soon realize that you have a lot to offer.
  6. Re-evaluate the context of the situation: Often situations exist in which you many not feel 100% confident but ask yourself; ‘Do you always feel this insecure and uncertain?’ ‘Has there been a time when you felt on the contrary?’ These questions will help you identify the circumstances in which you did feel in control and what steps you took to ensure the same. Perhaps, the same tools and strategies could be applied in a less confident scenario?
  7. Pursue your goal relentlessly regardless of what you feel: The best way to beat impostor syndrome is to continue taking action, irrespective of how you feel. It is said that if you take the risk and do what you fear the most, then you can do anything. It takes a lot of courage to pursue challenges even when you doubtful. After all, you can never really know how much you can accomplish if you don’t try.

You achieved because you did something different, something extra, something which you believed in, something which others didn’t do, others didn’t try. And trust me, the world’s needs believers, innovators and doers, someone they can look up to, someone who can inspire them to try, even when they are unsure!

Hira Ali is Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner.