Prepare for your return to work

Are you on family-related leave?  Take time out to analyse your role before you return.

‘Stressful, daunting, intimidating and worrying’ are often the words we hear from those returning to work following a period of leave.  Understandable, I felt the same.  When I returned from my first maternity leave, my manager asked me if there was anything I wanted to focus on when I got back to work – I honestly didn’t have a clue, because after 10 months off, I could barely remember the name of my department.

Consider the benefits that come with having a period of several months away from the office and from the day-to-day detail and stresses of your job:  this can be fantastic reflective time – and you may only get to do it once or twice in a lifetime!

As you begin to think about your return-to-work meetings with your manager, you may find that remembering the detail of what you did before you left has become a little vague – and understandably so!  You have probably not thought about work in any detail for almost a year.  We have found, however, that by taking some time to reconnect with your role will help your return-to-work meetings enormously, and may even give you some scope and control over what you do when you get back.

Analysing your role simply means thinking in detail about what you did before you left, and how you felt about it.

How to do it in 5 simple steps:

  1. Dig out your most recent role profile, performance appraisal and objectives
  2. Meet with others in your team (even socially or just have a telephone call) or use your Keeping in Touch days for fact-finding – what’s changed?
  3. Make a list of everything you really enjoyed doing before you left on maternity leave
  4. Make a list of everything you’re good at – include all those skills you honed to perfection on maternity leave (patience, time management, networking…)
  5. Bring all this together and present to your manager – you now have an overview of what you would like to focus on when you get back – and where you can add value

Managers can often have preconceptions and make sweeping assumptions about what returners want and don’t want to do – so remind them about what you’re good at and what you enjoy!

By Helen Letchfield, Co-founder & Director, PfP Coaching

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