Maternity leave is an important topic to talk about.
Your employer may offer something completely different than your friend’s employer. Yet, what is the right way to prepare for it? You want to make sure your job is being done correctly while you’re gone (no matter how long that might be) and your boss wants to make sure there is a chaotic mess left for when you’re gone.
In my job I wear many different hats. One moment I’m the Marketing Director, deciding on emails, facebook campaigns, letters, planning client appreciation events, calling prospective clients, and reaching out to new clients. The next moment I’m the financial planning assistant, completing paperwork, handling maintenance on clients’ accounts, meeting with new clients, and answering questions. Then my final hat for the day could be the Sales Director, managing contact with current clients, preparing client touches about any focus we are working on, and so on.
My day can be all over the place and it can be overwhelming at times. But I love it. I love not knowing where my day is going to take me and to know that I can be doing a variety of different tasks. However, it doesn’t make it so easy for when I’m going to be gone. It can be tricky trying to explain to a fellow co-worker how they can help me out. I decided my maternity leave will be easy to follow and nothing would get overlooked. Summers might seem slow in an accounting office, but it’s not for me. That’s when I work on all of my marketing pieces for the entire year, start sending out touches and kick start marketing campaigns. It’s a busy season for me.
One of the best decisions I was to plan for maternity leave at work. I can’t tell you how much of a stress reliever it is to know your work will be taken care of and you won’t have a huge pile when you return.
I wanted to share some helpful tips so you can be ready to leave your work to take care of you and baby. No matter how long your maternity leave is or how short, these tips will work for you.
It’s important to have a plan in place well before the baby is due. You never know if your little one will be making their debut early or not. It’s best to be prepared for the unexpected.
Know Who Will Be Wearing Your Hats.
The first thing you want to do is know who will be covering you. Is it one person or are multiple people going to be splitting your duties? Either way you need to know. I think it’s easier if one person covers because then all of your to-dos and instructions and thoughts are just passed to one individual. However, that may not be feasible. At most offices your cover will already have a full-time job with their own work that needs to get done.
If you have multiple people covering for you then you need to talk to your supervisor or office manager to determine who is going to take care of what. Which parts of your job is person A and person B going to cover.
For me I had two people covering for me. One covered all of my marketing duties while the other covered my financial planning and sales director tasks. I wasn’t too worried about the financial planning side, mainly because she’s been doing it for years and is the person who trained me. So I knew she had it! She could do that job in her sleep!
The marketing pieces were a bit more worrisome for me. I have created a few strategies, mailings, and so on over the past year that all need to be kicked off while I would be gone. So I wanted to make sure they went out without any problems.
Here’s what you do after you figure out how your job will be split:
Write down everything that will need to be done 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your scheduled maternity leave (just to be safe, remember?). I used an Excel spreadsheet to write down all of my tasks so I could update it as things changed.
Write it all out.
Next, create any procedures that aren’t already made. For me, scheduling our company’s blog posts was something only I have ever done. So I had to create written procedures with clear directions so my replacement could handle. I had to be very, very specific. But that’s okay. You need to be with procedures.
Treat a procedure as if someone off the street was coming in to handle that specific task. You want them to be easy to follow, clear and to the point.
Give specific deadlines. If someone is trying to do their job and yours then you need to give them specific deadlines so they can get it done. Also, you need to give them an idea of how long the task will take them. Keep in mind they don’t do this every day so it may take them longer.
“Mail newsletters on May 27th.” That is a specific deadline.
“Mail newsletters by end of May.” That is not.
The reason you want to give a specific deadline and an idea of how long each task will take is so they can plan the appropriate amount of time to get it done. For me I have marketing letters, emails and touches going out constantly. If something is off a week then I can become annoying to clients and prospects because they are getting touched too often. So I’m very picky about the dates anything goes out. I want to make sure we don’t send anything too close together causing someone to opt-out because they think we send too much information.
Go over everything with your replacement. Schedule an hour or so to go over all of your tasks. Make sure they understand what is expected of them and how to get help if they need it.
Make a copy to give to their supervisor so they will help make sure things are running smoothly.
The next step is very optional, but I am a Type A person so it’s what worked best for me. I took all of the tasks, mailings, blog posts, appointments to be scheduled, etc. and put a note in my Google calendar. That way I could make sure things were getting done at the end of the week with a simple email.
Make it accessible.
Finally, make a folder of all the notes, procedures and daily to-do list that you will be given. That way if you need to add to it, it’s easily accessible. I also liked the idea of having it ready to go just in case I went into labor prematurely and wasn’t going to be there as late as I wanted or thought.
If it’s okay to call you or email you while you’re gone, then let them know. I don’t mind a text, call or email. If I’m busy with baby then I simply won’t answer. However, I would much rather be asked a question before something is done then to learn it wasn’t done the way I wanted.
What did you do to plan for maternity leave?