Starting a new job is hard. Starting a new job when you’re also a sleep-deprived new parent is even harder. Everything in life is new – from new routines, to new colleagues, to new work, to new schedules, to a new human being in your life. Given all this newness, it’s nearly impossible not to be at least a bit off-kilter.
A new mama recently reached out to me with a request. “Could you address new moms (or relatively new moms) starting a new job, especially when so much bandwidth and attention is required, and nerves are at play, too?”
In thinking about the best way to approach a new job when you are also a new parent, I turned to my favorite, long-time career coach (who, in full disclosure, happens to be my husband) for advice. Jason Levin of Ready Set Launch LLC notes that it’s understandable you’d feel some angst about the transition. You are building a brand for yourself at your new employer, you likely have high expectations of yourself, and your home and work environments have both changed.
Here are Jason’s recommended four keys to success, as you make that transition to a new job while surviving new parenthood:
- Prioritize Relationship Building
When you are so sleep-deprived you just want to crawl under a rock, it is understandably hard to focus and to engage with others. But you MUST prioritize building relationships within your new organization, and you need to commit time to this. Set realistic goals around relationship-building, and stick to them. Perhaps meet one new colleague for coffee, lunch, or even a short chat per day.
Some practical tips on how to do this?
- Use LinkedIn to identify colleagues at your new organization who may have gone to your same university, graduate school, etc. Reach out to them.
- Take people up on their offers of introductions. Perhaps someone you know outside of work says “hey, I know so-and-so at your new employer. I can introduce you.” Follow up on this offer and meet that person you have in common.
- Meet individuals from other departments (not just your own), to help you get a better understanding of the organization from a broader perspective.
- Seek out other working parents. There’s likely to be an immediate bond between you, and they can help you navigate the culture around families and the workplace.
You only have the opportunity to be a new employee once. Take full advantage of that clean slate now, to get to know as many people as you can throughout the organization. By building relationships from the beginning, you’ll be giving yourself your best shot at integrating well into the organization.
- Focus on Work Quality
In addition to building relationships, you must think hard about how you deliver the best possible work product you can. Yes, you’re exhausted. You may be dealing with sick kiddos. And concentration may be a struggle. Focusing on quality is key to establishing yourself as a trusted brand with your new employer, though. Give yourself as much time as possible to arrive at a quality product. If you need help in the concentration department, try out the Pomodoro technique (more here) to get some of your focus back.
- Communicate Expectations About Your Schedule
If you haven’t already done so, plan to have an open and honest conversation with your manager about your schedule, so that everyone is on the same page. You can enlist your manager’s help in determining how to communicate your schedule to other colleagues. And you should go in knowing that how you behave in the beginning, schedule-wise, can affect perceptions of how you will use your time in the future.
Particularly if you have negotiated a flexible schedule, think hard about setting strong boundaries at the beginning. Once you have developed your colleagues’ trust and expectations around when you will and won’t be available, you can loosen up a bit and be more flexible with your flexibility.
If you are still in the negotiation stages regarding flexibility and your schedule, check out the great advice here from the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. Consider trial periods and committing to a split-shift as negotiation tools.
- Learn Your Manager’s Personality
One of the keys to succeeding in your new job will be developing a good working relationship with your manager. You can use the first few weeks to get a sense of how this person works, her personality, and expectations. Does you manager say what she means? Is she into bigger picture strategy or focused on details? What type of communication does she prefer? How often? What does she value?
Consciously trying to get a sense of these data points about your new boss will help you navigate the best way to interact with her or him.
And Finally, Be Kind to Yourself…
Jason’s 4 strategies will set you on the path to a successful integration into your new role. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to be kind and patient with yourself during this process, though. All transitions (and most especially, really big ones like these) take time. Be sure to focus on things that bring you calm. Get into routines – even small, micro ones – that help you feel some rhythm, pattern, and consistency in your days. Hang in there, mama. And remember to celebrate having landed that new gig!
Have you transitioned to a new job recently? What helped make that integration process successful for you?
Jason Levin is a career and outplacement coach at Ready, Set, Launch, LLC. He guides professionals of all backgrounds through career transitions and works with his clients to land that next job, get a promotion, make a career change, start an entrepreneurial venture, or transition into retirement. Jason enjoys speaking on and moderating panels and presenting career management seminars and webinars at staff retreats, conferences, and training sessions. He has appeared on WTTG Fox 5 and CTV News and has been quoted on career-related topics in The Wall Street Journal, Money, Fortune, and MarketWatch.
Looking for a community of new working mamas to help you with transitions both at work and at home? Join the next session of Mindful Return!