One of the main reasons I wanted to move up into management was to help provide a work environment that values flexibility and talented working parents. Nothing burns me up more than seeing a boss or a company give a good, hardworking employee the shaft because she wants to have a life outside work.
I’m happy to say I now have the opportunity to manage two people who have flexible work arrangements. (Meet Cara and Sara, two fellow contributors to Working Moms Against Guilt!) They both do an amazing job of managing their workloads while taking excellent care of their children (with the help of babysitters and spouses, that is).
In the past year or so, I’ve noticed how much work it takes for nontraditional employees to maintain their professional image and get ahead in their careers. A recent Redbook article by Lee Lusardi Connor points out some working mom tips and tricks that smart working moms can use to “stay on the fast track.” Here are the highlights:
Make your schedule abundantly clear.
Put it up on your office door or cubicle bulletin board. Leave it on your voice mail message. Continually remind your boss and colleagues so they know when, where, and how they can reach you.
Keep your language professional when discussing your out-of-office life.
Instead of saying you’re calling from home, say you’re working at your “home office.” Or tell a client you have to leave due to a “prior commitment,” not your child’s soccer practice.
Let technology help you look good.
Update your voice mail message daily to let people know where you are and when you’ll be checking/returning messages. Take a PDA with you to answer urgent emails while you wait to pick up your child at school.
Don’t forget to be flexible.
Make sure you can stay late for emergency meetings or come in on weekends when it’s crunch time. Let your colleagues know you’ll be available to help out when it’s needed.
Be your own PR queen.
Constantly emphasize to your boss what a rock-star employee you are, backing it up with results, memos, and testimonials from colleagues and clients.
Maintain an office-appropriate phone policy.
Whenever possible, keep your kids, pets, and other noisemakers out of earshot while making important work-related calls. Invest in a headset with a mute button for those interminable conference calls.
Not getting the R-E-S-P-E-C-T you deserve as a working mom?
It might be time to shop for a new job at a place where getting ahead and being a decent parent aren’t mutually exclusive. Or consider starting your own business, so you can make your own rules and be your own boss.
Now that I’ve summarized Redbook’s tips, I’d love to hear yours! What’s helped you stay on the fast track to success while you’re bringing home and frying up the bacon for your family?
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