What if my parental leave replacement is better than me?

What if my parental leave replacement is better than me?

You are 35 weeks pregnant, tired, hormonal—and in walks your new replacement. He is full of energy and enthusiasm and all you can think about is, ‘What if he’s better than me? Will my manager prefer him? Will my team prefer him? What if I am not wanted back?’

Says Julie, a mother of two, ‘I was so worried. My new replacement was awesome and seemed to really want to make a big impact immediately. Everyone loved her and I was happy to have her, but also so envious at the same time.’

Stop. Stop right now.

You need to let go of those unhelpful thoughts and embrace the positives. You have a replacement and you are one of the lucky ones. Think of those women who don’t get a replacement and instead are told, ‘We will not be replacing your role and instead absorbing your work across the team.’ How would that make you feel? Worried? We think so.

So, if you have a replacement and are experiencing the replacement blues, then we have pulled some tips together to help you through the transition.

It’s OK to have conflicting emotions
The first thing you need to know is that it’s pretty normal to feel a little bit conflicted about your replacement. By this stage you are heavily pregnant and are probably feeling exhausted. Getting to work every day is a bit of a mission and even small tasks like putting on your shoes seem virtually impossible. You are on the wind down and if you are like most, your brain starts to shut down, and focusing on work is a bit challenging (fondly referred to as the ‘pregnancy glaze’). The energy of your replacement will be unsettling, but remember that she will be bringing her shiny A-game to impress, and that for you, it’s very normal to have mixed emotions or feel a bit threatened.

Whatever the emotion you are feeling, it’s important to acknowledge it and move past it. You need to let go and turn your focus in your last few weeks to getting your replacement up to speed as quickly as possible. You also want your last few weeks to be as enjoyable as possible. Worrying about so many different scenarios that are unlikely to happen isn’t particularly helpful.

Be organised
Give your replacement the opportunity to really step into your role before you go on leave. Be organised and have everything documented to handover and then spend as much time as possible walking him through it all. We’d also suggest getting him to take the lead so you can ‘shadow’ him and help troubleshoot problems as they come up. You want to set him up to succeed in your role as much as possible. By letting him take the lead, he will get to properly test run your role while still having you around for support. The best thing about taking this approach is that you can also start to wind down and enjoy your last few weeks.

Keeping in touch
If you feel comfortable, give her your contact details while you are on leave. Obviously, you don’t want to be contacted every day, but it would be nice to stay in touch and get the occasional update. There may also be a problem that you can quickly provide some advice on over the phone. This is your personal decision though and you may equally want to disconnect from work for a while, especially when your baby is really young.

Dealing with a replacement is not necessarily easy, but embrace it and feel grateful that you have one. We know too many women who’ve left the office on their last day feeling stressed and unable to hand their work over.

Think of the positives. Having a replacement really allows you to enjoy those precious last few weeks. Don’t feel guilty. Feel thankful.

Written by Kate Pollard, Co-founder of Circle In

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