When you find out that you’re expecting, the idea of leaving work to start a new chapter in your life doesn’t seem so daunting. But once your boss knows and once the rest of the office starts to learn, suddenly it seems like everyone is questioning your decision.
What if your company doesn’t have maternity leave policies? What will you do? How will you cope? And what about your colleagues, who might resent you for leaving?
A male-led office can be tense and difficult to navigate at times. Not only are you worried about being resented by your colleagues, you’re also concerned about how your colleagues are going to react to the news that you’re expecting.
Not all are going to react in the same way, but there is a process that can help ease the tension and help everyone be as supportive as possible.
1. Be upfront
As soon as you decide you’re planning to take maternity leave, you should be upfront about it from the start. This is less a question of being nosy or trying to find out information you shouldn’t, and more a matter of being prepared for the reactions that you might get from others.
If there are any office dynamics that might cause some people to be particularly sensitive about your gender and pregnancy, it’s important to know. HKM labor attorneys can help you through tough situations, such as discrimination or harassment.
2. Communicate regularly
If you’re planning to take maternity leave, be sure to communicate regularly with your manager. This doesn’t mean that you need to be constantly updating your boss on your pregnancy statistics and your plans to breastfeed. It just means that you should be open about the fact that you’re going to be out for a while.
As your pregnancy progresses, your managers will want to be prepared to answer questions and ease any concerns that your colleagues might have. Communicating regularly will help your managers to be prepared for these moments as they come up.
3. Ask for help when you need it
Asking for help when you need it isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Everyone handles pregnancy and parenthood differently. If you find that you’re struggling to cope on your own, or if you’re worried that you might be overstepping some boundaries, feel free to reach out to your managers for help.
A word of caution, though. Asking for help could easily be misconstrued as an admission of weakness. If you find yourself needing to be helped, be sure to let your managers know so that they can help you without coming across as trying to save you from yourself.
4. Be transparent
Being transparent about your pregnancy and maternity leave plans from the start can help ease some of the tension in your office. It can also help your managers to be more prepared for questions that might come up later on. If you’re taking maternity leave, being transparent about that fact means that your managers will know what to expect when questions come up.
5. Be respectful
Throughout your pregnancy, it’s important to be respectful to your managers and to your colleagues. You might feel like you have to fight a constant battle to keep your head above water, but you don’t have to do it at the expense of your colleagues and your managers.
If there are specific office dynamics that make it hard to be respectful around pregnancy and parenthood, you can use this time to ease those dynamics. You don’t have to be the person who always stands up for feminism in the office, for example; you can be the person who stands up for the person who needs it.
The best way to navigate the tricky waters of a male-led office is to be prepared for the tension. Not only will this help you to avoid making mistakes, it can also prevent you from getting resentful toward other colleagues.
It’s important to remember that everyone is going through something, and that the best way to be supportive is to be open and respectful.