Very few organisations have a formal buddy scheme—if you know of them, then please let us know—but this shouldn’t stop you from creating your own.
Buddies work at all levels. Our kids have them in the school yard, start-ups have them and even new CEOs are often ‘buddied’ up. This is a simple concept and one that could go a long way to supporting you over the next 12 months.
First-time mother Karen recently told us about how she connected informally with someone in her office. At the time she didn’t call her a buddy, but that’s essentially what she became. Having this support person enabled her to have someone she could confide in and trust. She could talk to her about the process, policies and her fear of what parental leave would do for her career.
The real benefit came once Karen left the office to begin parental leave and started to feel disconnected. Her buddy would often send her updates, keep her informed or answer questions. The other positive was Karen made a great work friend and expanded her network even more.
Think of it like a mothers’ group friend, but at work. They can help you with aspects of the pregnancy from understanding policies to childcare options close by, and how to speak to your manager about issues which arise from the pregnancy, plus how to manage your return to work given they’re experiencing it firsthand.
Says Karen, “Having someone there just helped me so much when I was questioning my career and how anxious I felt. Given she had been through it, I just felt better every time we spoke. It’s so simple and I am not sure why more companies do not adopt it.‘’
Now we could give you a step-by-step guide, but we like to keep things simple here at Circle In. Getting a buddy is about you taking control of your career and stepping outside your comfort zone. Identify some other women in the office who have recently returned and who you find similar in terms of work style and personality. Approach them and invite them for a coffee. We bet they will be so chuffed that you asked and will enjoy the experience as much as you. One thing we love about working mothers is that we all get a kick out of helping each other to thrive and survive.
Good luck, and be sure to share your stories with us. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by the team at Circle In