This is the week many women choose to tell their boss they're pregnant. But no matter how confident you feel, this can often be an anxiety-inducing conversation. Keep calm and cool by following these tips from women in the FGB community.
1. Schedule a one-on-one meeting.
Tempted to do a spontaneous share? Even your Instagram feed gets some editing, so we suggest you think twice about blurting out the news.
Sitting down for a one-on-one meeting has a lot of advantages. You’re not walking down the hallway within earshot of others, for starters. But you also don’t have to try to fight for attention while your boss is running between meetings or distracted by her phone’s email alerts. You want to have your manager’s undivided attention when you break the news.
If your boss is very busy, they might question what a one-hour meeting is about. You don’t need a lot of time, and even 15 minutes can do the trick if that makes it easier to get on their schedule.
2. Don’t encourage gossip by sharing the news with other colleagues.
We know you trust your work-wife, but why take the risk? Keep a straight face and the news to yourself so that you actually still have “news” to deliver. This includes being careful on Facebook and social media as well, since many of your friends at work might notice your online announcements.
3. Present the outlines of a maternity leave plan. Or tell your boss you intend to share one.
Even if you don’t have an elaborate plan, it’s probably just good manners to indicate you’ve thought about needing coverage for your projects and responsibilities while you’re out. While you may not have the power or authority to make decisions about who covers for you, just providing a list of your deadlines and duties and suggesting ideas for how to address your outstanding work will be appreciated. Even if it’s just a gesture at this point.
4. Know your employer’s policies or share what you know (if you don’t have the full picture).
If you know your company’s policies about maternity leave, that’s great. If you don’t, you should get some information about it as soon as possible (see Week 8) and share what you know. That way, you don’t have to ask your manager (who frankly, may not know).
You’ll benefit by looking well-prepared instead of showing up with an announcement and immediately asking for information that you could have easily found yourself.
5. Know your basic rights.
You don’t have to be an attorney to get the gist of what the law says about having a baby. The main reason to do this is to prepare yourself for the possibility that your manager says that you are not entitled to something you know is not true. Also, more knowledge always helps you handle your conversation with more confidence.
6. Contact someone in Human Resources immediately before or after your meeting.
Most of the time, your benefits information will reside with the HR department. And after meeting with your manager (or immediately before), you should tell your Human Resources department your news as well.
The HR department may have access to forms such as short-term disability information, and FMLA documents that may help you mechanically process your leave. Moreover, they will be your primary contact about any administrative details that come up.
7. Pick a good time to have the meeting.
You know that feeling when you’re asked to do something before you’ve had a cup of coffee? Don’t be that person who schedules a meeting before lunch, just before an intense client deadline and certainly don’t make your boss late for something important. While obviously you can’t guess what is going on at all times, there are some times you should try to avoid!
8. Rehearse your message if it will make you feel less nervous.
It’s SO normal to feel nervous and worried about how you will be perceived when you do break the news. But as professional coach and leadership trainer Hira Ali, says “Avoid sharing the news casually.” So take those nerves and translate them into a plan of action and that may even mean a little dress rehearsal.
If you’re worried about telling your boss you’re pregnant, practice it a few times in front of the mirror. It may make you feel better to rehearse your delivery and it can’t help to test out your choice of words a few times.
9. Don’t apologize.
There is nothing to apologize for, even if you are incredibly devoted to your work and you feel guilty about leaving the team for a while. It’s very common to feel a sense of guilt if you are loyal to your colleagues and team. However, apologizing reinforces the idea that you have to always be physically and continuously present in order to matter. Frankly, that’s not necessarily true in most jobs.
Your pregnancy is absolutely something you should celebrate and you have to believe that you will come back a better and more evolved human being (which we 100% believe) that adds even more value to the world — and to your work.
While it never feels easy (even for second and third-time mothers) to break the news, hopefully your meeting will go smoothly. Many women we know are warmly congratulated by their managers who are genuinely happy for them. Good luck!