Tuesday 1 July 2014

Back to Work and Ready for Gold!

By Jennifer Whelan

I sat down the other day and wondered where the last 12 months have gone. It’s been a little over 12 months since I returned to work following a year of maternity leave. Prior to going on maternity leave, knowing no different, I had the notion that I would be back to work within a few months... wow how wrong was I!

I took my full year off and cherished every moment I had with my son. Nevertheless the time was fast approaching for me to return to work. Feeling quite nervous, I wondered how or (perhaps more crucially) if I could balance my family and professional life. Numerous concerns were at the forefront of my mind; would I get my confidence back? Could I settle back into the team? Could I give the same commitment to my job that I did before? Could I give the same commitment to my son that I had done?

What I have come to realise since returning to work is that you can give the same level of commitment to your job and possibly be more efficient in doing so, but you do need to get the appropriate support model in place. Whether you are lucky enough to have your family and friends close by or you use some sort of affordable childcare (if you’re lucky enough to find it!!) it needs to be sorted.

In addition, it makes it a lot easier when you work for a company that has its employees’ interests at the forefront of its ethos and a manager who is understanding. I’m fortunate enough to have found and recognised this in my role, but while it has raised a new awareness, it has also raised a new challenge for me..

How can I reciprocate this same positive approach when leading a delivery team of bright, young, enthusiastic consultants who perhaps may not have similar issues with a work/life balance and therefore do not appreciate the constraints?

Whilst at BravoConnect, I attended a session where Marc Woods (Paralympic swimmer & Gold medalist) gave such an honest and endearing talk about his life. During this talk, he referred to a particular time in his career where his relay team had missed out on placing for a medal by 0.012 seconds.  During analysis of the race, Marc noticed that two of the relay team were still pleased with their result while he and another were disappointed. Marc soon realised that not all of the team had the same goals. Determined to get this resolved, Marc identified that his team needed to communicate better in order to align and realise their goals.

While listening attentively, I thought “wow, we can do that. We can communicate better within the team. I’m going to share this knowledge with the team and apply it to our projects. This is great stuff!!"

However it was actually what followed that caused my 'lightbulb' moment. It was during this phase that Marc got to know and understand his team; not just their ability in the pool, but their ambitions, concerns, likes and dislikes, what drives them, what makes each individual ‘tick’. That was it. I was set, I had my strategy for our team to deliver gold:


Own your goals

Nice (try to be..)






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