When you are becoming a working mum, and are planning your maternity leave, one of the key things to get right is your maternity cover. Make sure you run your handover professionally. I would like to give you the key aspects to consider and practical tips on how best to approach these.
If someone is taking over your role, it is understandable to feel a little (or very!) protective of your position, but your cooperation and proactivity will be appreciated in the long run. After all you know your job best. Besides, it give you more influence on who is chosen.
Start planning for your maternity cover handover as early as you can
As soon as you have told your manager and your colleagues about your pregnancy, you can start thinking about this. Consider you will probably not be very fit the last 3-4 weeks, unless you happen to be lucky. A cover needs to be found and you will need to allow some time for the person covering you to get up to speed.
Think through how your absence during maternity leave can be managed
In your opinion, could someone in your team step up temporarily or do you feel it would be more appropriate for an external contractor to come in? Your manager is likely to have their own ideas about what will work, but they will generally appreciate it if you have put together a business case for your preferred option.
Begin writing a ‘job bible’ as early as you can
It’s key for you that your maternity cover functions well too. If they don’t you are the one who will have to pick up the pieces when returning, or worse it might lead to a decision the function is no longer necessary. Besides, it shows you are professional. It’s difficult to remember everything at the last minute. Also, you don’t know if you will need to leave very quickly (or if the baby will come early) so be prepared. Make sure you include every task, working group and responsibility you have.
The process of doing this can also be really helpful in addressing unfinished business before you go – build your ‘to-do’ list as you write it.
Build a list of contacts (organisational and external) who your cover should speak to about key issues. Include the name, email address, phone numbers, job title and department as well, in case people move on or are unavailable. If there is no organisation chart, create one (obviously only include relevant people).
Notify all your contacts about your http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/weight-loss/ impending maternity leave
Make sure you get in touch with all of your contacts well before you leave to let them know when you will be going, when you intend to return and introduce your cover (assuming one has been found – if not – e-mail them again with an update at a later stage). Cc in your cover and your manager to this e-mail.
Make sure you have three copies of your handover notes. One for you, one for your cover and one for your manager – this serves two purposes – firstly they will see how much you do and therefore how necessary you are, and secondly that if the cover is successful, you will be given significant credit for giving them so much support. If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be due to your lack of cooperation. If you are likely to need access to key documents while you are on maternity leave, and do not have remote network access, it may be worth e-mailing yourself copies to your home account.
Declutter well before you go on maternity leave
Leave your desk space clean and tidy, and also try to sort your actual and virtual inboxes. If there are any outstanding issues as you leave, you must give full details of what stage you are at, any relevant history, full details of the contact and what is still left to be done by whom. Don’t leave loose ends – it’s frustrating for everyone.
Plan a formal review with your manager before you go on maternity leave
A review is useful to appraise work to date and to set (reviewable) objectives for your return. Discuss any concerns that you may have about your impending absence. If you have any serious worries, make sure these are documented. If, for whatever reason, you are unexpectedly away early, you can still send a last update by e-mail, summarising key points you would like to make.
Author: Tamsin Crook, founder of Making Careers Work – a maternity coaching and career support service which helps mums and mums-to-be reach their full potential in their careers within the dynamic context of their family life. As a mum of three boys herself, she understands the desire to try to balance the needs of the family with personal career ambitions – not always straightforward! Tamsin works with women at all stages of motherhood, and is based in Thames Ditton, Surrey.
Tamsin is one of the key contributors to Mum & Career and has written most pages on Maternity Leave for us