Returning from Parental Leave- 1st Meeting with your Manager

communication at work confidence building d&i strategies return to work working parents Apr 21, 2017

We recommend that you and your Manager meet or at least speak virtually, ideally on your first day back from your parental leave; so that you can quickly re-orient yourself to the world of professional working!

What is the purpose of this meeting? Ideally, it will cover the following points:

  • Practical logistics 
  • Update from your Manager on the department & business
  • Handover of role & responsibilities

Let’s start with practical logistics

  • Has there been any changes to the office, your workstation you need to be aware of, or are there any pending changes?
  • If you are a returning mother who is breastfeeding, ensure that you know where all the facilities are, so that this does not create any anxiety. Use this meeting to advise or remind your Manager of your breastfeeding routine so that he or she understands when you will be away from the office space.
  • Together, look at the diary for the next six weeks and understand if there are any key meetings planned where you’re expected to attend - these could include business meetings, team days or an external event or conference. If some of these fall outside your agreed “working hours” and involve travel, then this is the time to be clear on what is and what is not possible. 
  • Also, discuss what you have both agreed in terms of working hours. You may be building your work hours slowly during the 1st month using a phased approach, to ease the transition. If this is the case, agree how it will work and the core hours required, to interlink with the team, other stakeholders, and time zones if applicable.
  • On the subject of logistics, another situation to anticipate is your need to take emergency time off to care for a sick child - trust us, this will happen in month one, especially if your child is in a creche! Again, agree what you need and what the Manager needs if this scenario occurs.

Moving on to the update from your Manager on the department & business

This is important for you. Often, when you have been away from work for a parental break, you can feel disconnected which can be disempowering. Make the time to give this some proper attention so that you feel up to speed with the business and political landscape. This will help you feel more equipped.

  • Starting big picture - understand if there are any developments in the businesses which will impact your work - changes in business strategy, direction? Any new internal policies or systems to be aware of?
  • Then onto the team - any new starters or leavers in your absence, any planned absences or resignations? Anyone pregnant or announced they plan to take leave as a partner? How are the team working together? Any opportunities or challenges to be aware of? Any changes in roles? Anything to be sensitive to?
  • Finally, come to stakeholders - again any changes? What actions, if any, are required of you in the next month around internal or external stakeholders?

Handover of role & responsibilities

If there are no major changes, then talk through the best way to resume your role & responsibilities. Please do note here that if you have come back on reduced hours, it is important that this is reflected in your roles and responsibilities so now is the time to be clear on what needs to be removed from your scope of work; so that it is realistic and aligns with the % of time you are working.

  • If you had a parental leave cover, when are they due to leave? You need to be clear on what timescales you are working to, so that you can plan and be efficient.
  • If the work was split between the team, understand from your manager if there should there be a priority order in who you liaise with first to resume the work?

Before you close the meeting, agree what else may be needed in these first few weeks back. Agree when you will be meeting next for an update and check-in regarding how it’s the handover has been and your return.

By working together, maintaining the lines of communication and adjusting expectations to a manageable level, the transition back to work will be a success for you, the Manager and the team.

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