"I was promoted on maternity leave!" How working parent coaching drives career success
Enterprise offers working parent coaching to help all parents and their managers to prepare for leave and the return to work. Zoe Lazell, EU IT Manager, and her manager at the time, Victoria Brignall, Product Development Manager, joined the coaching sessions when Zoe was expecting a baby.
"When I found out I was pregnant, I felt uneasy and stressed at the thought of taking maternity leave," Zoe told us. With concerns about workload and handovers, she didn’t know what to do or how to approach work.
She decided to take up the opportunity of taking part in working parent coaching, which Enterprise offers as part of its family friendly policies through Talking Talent, a business consultancy that helps organisations accelerate advancement for under-represented talent.
This programme consists of four sessions: Great Expectations, Success Strategies for Managers, Confident Comebacks, and Father Factor.
"It gave realistic advice to help me plan for my parental leave and anticipate what will be different on my return"
Zoe started with Great Expectations, which is designed to prepare expectant parents for the transition to – and through – parental leave.
"It gave realistic advice to help me plan for my parental leave and anticipate what will be different on my return," said Zoe. "It helped me prepare for maternity leave and the discussions I should be having with my line manager to pull together a clear and flexible plan."
This meant that she could enjoy the build-up to her maternity leave without worrying about what will happen in her absence. She and Victoria discussed how best to communicate during her leave, set boundaries, and considerations for a smooth transition.
While Victoria had been a manager for eight years, she had never been through a maternity leave with a member of her team. She wanted help on how she might provide better support and direction, so she joined the Success Strategies for Managers coaching session.
"The coaches talk you through how to manage expectant and new parents and provide effective strategies to support the individual and wider team"
"I know as a manager I have a huge impact on the employee parental leave experience. It was important to me that I provided leadership and support at such a pivotal time," Victoria said.
Topics covered by the managers' session include handovers, managing the impact on the wider team, communication during maternity leave, flexible working requests, among many other areas.
Victoria explained, "It’s important not to make any assumptions on how best to handle the transition. The coaches talk you through how to manage expectant and new parents and provide effective strategies to support the individual and wider team."
Five months into Zoe’s maternity leave, Victoria got in touch and encouraged her to apply for a manager position which had opened in the team. Despite being on leave, Zoe didn’t want the opportunity to pass her by and decided to go for it - and her application was successful.
"I was promoted on maternity leave to EU IT Manager!"
"It’s important not to make any assumptions on how best to handle becoming a parent"
It wasn’t easy to return to work during a pandemic, with a new job, changed team structures, and as a new parent. Zoe signed up to the Confident Comebacks session for support and advice after her parental leave.
"It reassured me that it’s OK to set boundaries. Whether it’s delegating work, moving meetings, finishing work earlier, it taught me how to navigate roles as a parent and a professional in a way that worked for me."
Confident Comebacks helped Zoe to create sustainable work habits as a parent and as she reintegrated into her role, giving a sense of control over competing work and family priorities.