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ASK A CAREER COACH

I’m stuck in neutral at work. When should I reveal I’m pregnant? Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I am scheduled to have a performance and career discussion with my manager. The last year was good and have done well in my role in the four years I’ve been in it. During my last career conversation three months ago, I was clear that I wanted to explore other roles to develop my skills as my current role isn’t challenging.

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However, I believe that the lack of continuity in my region (we have restructured twice and I have had several different managers in the past two years) indicates that this is not the right place for me to seek new challenges.

I also feel that the company’s impression of my potential has changed and my manager is just not prepared to tell me. The situation is demotivating professionally, especially as my personal life has evolved: I have moved, gotten married and am expecting a baby in eight months.

I plan to be a working mother. What would be the most reasonable career conversation to have with my manager and when should I share that I am pregnant? I don’t want to return from maternity leave to this unfulfilling role.

THE ANSWER

You are experiencing a great deal of change in your professional and personal life. You say you want to be a working mother, but be prepared to be flexible in this regard. Some new mothers decide to take their full maternity leave after the birth of their first and subsequent children. You will also want to reflect on how you want to balance being a mother and working at the same time. Some women want to work part-time or have a flexible work schedule in order to balance the two roles. This can sometimes have an impact on taking on more senior or supervisory roles where there’s an expectation that you will work longer hours.

You say you want to be recognized and want to get ahead in your current or another company. Even though your current company is going through numerous changes, keep in mind that this can be one of the best times to be promoted. Position yourself and foster relationships with your boss and the other senior managers so they know of your interest and potential in making a difference at a higher level.

Meet with your new boss and discuss what you have accomplished over the past year (and the three previous years) and outline what your strengths and talents are. Point out how you can help the company reach its goals. Explain that you would like to be supported in moving to the next level in the company. Ask your manager whether she and her boss are prepared to support you in moving ahead and when that will happen. If she says yes, then note it on your performance review, get her to sign it, and make copies for her, you and human resources.

If she says no, ask why and note her reasons. Ask her whether, if you address any shortcomings, she will then support promoting you. If she still says no, then you know it is time to start networking and looking for positions in other companies.

If she says yes, ask what you need to do to make it happen. Take note of what she says and act on her suggestions. Also request that you be considered for any appropriate promotions immediately.

You’ll need to decide when you’ll tell your boss about your pregnancy. Many women do not announce they are pregnant until they are in their second trimester or later.

Ideally, get the support of your manager for a promotion and move into that new position before you announce that you are pregnant. Be prepared to tell your manager and an HR representative that you do not want your maternity leave to hurt your ability to be promoted. If they are not supportive, update your résumé and start to look for another position.

Bruce Sandy is principal of www.brucesandy.com and Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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