An Expert's Advice on Seamlessly Re-Entering the Workplace After Maternity Leave

Katie Fowler
by Katie Fowler


This has actually been the year where I have been likened to Meghan Markle more times than I can say Suits. Does being compared to a fictional lawyer make me feel more confident in my place of work? Flattered, yes, but more confident? No. What makes me fearless is when I step through the revolving glass doors every day is gaining mastery. There is nothing more we can do other than practice the tasks we are set in order to grow, and in turn, feel more confident for learning that task. To explain this further, MyDomaine Australia spoke to career expert and psychologist, Suzie Plush, who tells us that faking it until you make it can actually be your biggest confidence saver.

Keep scrolling to make the remainder of your 2017 as suit-worthy as possible.

Gaining Mastery

Once you know how to do a task effectively, through practice, you will automatically feel more confident. It’s all about having a growth mindset and practicing the thing you need to master, whether that’s learning to create one dish on a menu, reading a thesis on environmental science, or simply catching a ball—a cliché I know, but practice really does make perfect. Once you take action, confidence will kick in, and as Plush says, "never wait to feel confident before you move forward as you will be waiting a long time."

Banish Imposter Syndrome

When you leave your comfort zone, it is likely that the imposter syndrome will appear (this is the reason why some women in power experience it, even Diane von Furstenburg). Instead of trying to get rid of the feeling like you don't belong, it's helpful to become more aware of it and recognise when it appears. "Reframe the imposter syndrome and use it to your advantage," Plush suggests. "You could say to yourself, 'Ah, what a surprise, I'm doing something new and the imposter story is playing loudly in my head'." This simple change of thought and language can take you from feeling like a total loser to a DVF girl, pretty easy right?

Correct Your Attitude

"Always be gracious and practice humility in your interactions," Plush says. "These two qualities will offset cockiness." Also, always remember that like attracts like, and if you’re dealing with an employee with an "of" attitude, seek to understand the heart of the issue before addressing their behaviour so it doesn’t spiral and ricochet onto your attitude. Follow these steps by Plush to ensure the issue is resolved: 

Affirm themSet up a meeting and encourage the employee on one thing they are doing well.

Be curiousAsk questions. Ask them how they are coping at work and if they have any challenges or concerns?

Provide feedbackGive examples of what you have observed and seek to understand their perspective.

Set expectationsRe-articulate your expectations and outline the behaviours you would like to observe moving forward.

Clarify understandingMake sure you are both on the same page and ensure you have a mutual understanding in place.  

Returning From Maternity Leave

Your capacity and priorities will be different when you re-enter the workplace after having a child, so it is your responsibility to rewrite the rules. "Be creative when problem-solving and work smarter not harder, and also position yourself for success," says Plush. This doesn’t have to be huge wins, such as bringing in a new account on your first week back, but by celebrating the little wins allows you to focus on what you have accomplished and how much effort you have invested. Our favourite tip that Plush shared with us is to invest in your wardrobe—"your work attire will affect how you feel, so invest in some heels or a blazer and your confidence will be instantly enhanced." So, kiss your beautiful new baby when you leave each morning, put on the lipstick that makes you feel like Elizabeth Taylor, and put on a brave face—you’ve got this.

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