Our undisputed number one top tip for parental leavers is to stay in touch with your employer during parental leave; stay connected. We cannot stress this enough. Have a break, enjoy motherhood but don’t fully disconnect.
When we were developing the idea of Circle In, we spoke with hundreds of women about their experiences. One particular story resonated with us—that of Kim, a mother who had just returned to work after 18 months of leave. When she left, she was loving her career and her workplace. Her colleagues were friends who gave her an incredible send-off. She could not wait for her new baby to arrive, then to return to work in 12 to 18 months.
Unfortunately, when she returned to work she had a new CEO and was given a new role. Her team had mostly left, the culture was different and no one knew her or what she had to offer. She was essentially starting afresh.
Her message is clear:
“I wish so much I had stayed in touch. Even just a few emails and visits to the team would have made a huge difference. I also didn’t contact my network and now find myself having to rebuild relationships I took so long to develop. You think it won’t happen to you and everything will stay the same, but it doesn’t. I was naïve and wish so much I had approached things differently.”
We cannot stress this enough. In fact, our undisputed number one top tip for parental leavers is to stay connected. Have a break, enjoy motherhood but don’t fully disconnect.
So let’s keep this simple. 4 steps to staying in touch.
Step 1 – Define your key contacts within the following areas
- Your manager—an obvious one!
- Your team colleagues—who is it important to stay connected with? Everyone? A few people? Remember, this is not about social connections but is about team members who play a role in your career and will be critical for your return.
- People you respect who you have an informal relationship with. This contact will be less, but could go a long way for your return in 12 months.
- Mentors and sponsors. Read our article here about the difference and why it’s important to think about both.
- External stakeholders. Who do you liaise with outside your workplace? These contacts are important, especially if down the track you consider exploring new career options.
Step 2 – Define why each is important. Some suggestions could include
- Staying connected to my team
- Strong leadership
- Respected leader
- Connected externally—strong brand in market
- Believes in me and my skills/ abilities
Step 3 – Define how you will communicate
- Social media is great here. A quick message on LinkedIn is fine. Remember, you don’t want to be out of sight, out of mind.
Step 3 – Think about each of your contacts and define when and how you will communicate
Your plan could look like this:
|Team||Direct reports||Retain leadership and respect||Email update and 1 x coffee||Every 3 months|
|External||Samantha||Strong marketer, built relationship and works in field I aspire to work in||Every 4 months|
Enjoy staying connected and trust us, you will thank us (and your contacts) when you return to work back to work!
Check out our Keeping in Touch Template.