It was 11:27PM at night. I couldn’t sleep. The same thoughts had been running through my head every night for months. I was dreading going to work the next day. I was thinking about how I could call out sick and then realized, I couldn’t.
I had felt this way a few times in my career. Once, when I had a boss that was pretty dreadful. But this time it was a longer journey. My anxiety was at an all-time high, but I had to stay the course. My husband listened to me worry and try to figure out what to do. My kids saw me stressed and on edge more times than I would have liked. I was constantly weighing doing the right thing versus doing what was easy. Easy would have been nice.
I was in the middle of a lengthy process (a year-long to be exact) to help an employee improve their performance…and it didn’t go well to say the least.
It was one of the hardest and most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my career. It didn’t just stay at work, it bled into my every thought and stayed with me at home. I felt judgment. I felt ownership. I felt sadness. I felt anger. Meetings upon meetings. Issues. More conversations. More documentation. Toward the end, I just felt numb. It felt like all those stories of people in a marathon. My toes were bleeding, and I felt like I just couldn’t keep going, but somehow, I barely made it through.
I was also 8 months pregnant – with twins and a husband, 2-year-old and a stepson at home. Dinner still had to happen. Helping Carter with the Science Fair project, still had to happen. It all STILL had to happen no matter what was going on “at” work.
My saving grace – other than the unconditional loving support from my husband – was my coach.
A friend in HR was going through her coaching certification and needed a supervisor to coach to finish her requirements, and I had volunteered to help out. I had been coached one other time in my career and it was an eye-opening experience that always helped me grow.
Little did I know, she’d get me through one of the worst periods of my career. She’d be my outlet to cry. She’d be my cheerleader. She’d remind me of who I told her I was. She’d tell me that I have a loving heart. She’d ask me hard questions. She sat with me when I had nothing left to give. She helped me find the power within myself to keep going and become even better after the darkness.
If you employ moms within your organization – you need a coach.
There are differences between the role as a supervisor versus a coach. As a supervisor myself, we often think we can coach people along the way. If it comes to work projects, guidance and how to get stuff done, supervisors have the skills to help individuals succeed.
A coach is a more employee-focused role that supports employees looking at their current and future reality. A coach observes individuals objectively while they work through their daily routines, and they help identify and remove potential obstacles such as habits, beliefs or fears that prevent the them from meeting objectives or achieving goals. Coaches focus on asking questions to help the employee uncover the root of a problem and come up with an action plan themselves, rather than telling the employee the plan to follow. They encourage the employee to determine the problem and solution themselves. A coach can help an individual consider both personal and professional aspects to enable them to create their own solutions that are true to themselves and elevate them to the next level of their best self.
For working moms, the constant tug at their values is real. Their desire to be their BEST at work AND at home, is real. The emotions, feelings, struggles and projects related to work and home will collide.
They need support. They need to find ways to navigate the ups and downs and in-betweens. They will have times when they need to find their purpose. They will have times when they don’t know if they should go after that big promotion for fear of not wanting to be a burden if they have to leave by 5pm to pick up kids. They will question their worth.
They’ll need a reminder of their greatness. They need a confidential place to go. They’ll need tools to grow and elevate into the next version of themselves.
And you’ll see the benefit. Working moms are productive. They are loyal and efficient. They are multi-taskers by nature. They are flexible with others because they value that flexibility. They are relationship builders; supporters and they have an innate perseverance.
They are just like me and all my other mommy friends who are successful, smart and funny women.
And they are so worth the investment.