What is Parental Transition Coaching? A guide for HR Professionals.


 January 21, 2022


By Louise Hallett, Professional Coach for Parent & Professional

Formerly referred to as maternity or paternity coaching, parental-transition coaching supports employees during a critical period of their personal life as they leave work to have a baby and return to the demands of career management in their professional lives.

Organisations are increasingly recognising the importance of caring for employees at this time.  10 years ago, ‘maternity coaching’ used to be seen as a way of increasing return rates from leave and a way to reduce the likelihood of a legal discrimination claim.  Now, parental-transition coaching is a vital part of an organisation’s talent retention strategy and overall D&I consideration.  It is now about supporting both mums and dads to find the right work/family balance; it is also about educating managers to support their employees through change. 

Creating a family-friendly organisation consists of far more than simply adhering to creating competitive maternity or paternity policies (however this is a good way to start!)  The evidence for supporting employees’ emotional and physical wellbeing is well documented and undisputed. Good support during this period has been proven to improve loyalty and retention.  In fact, we can now help HR track results of the parental-transition coaching – because we measure key D&I factors such as confidence in career progression and work/family balance as well as the extent to which employees now feel more supported by their companies. 

The parental-transition journey is unique to each individual but there are some common factors that employees share that they have experienced as a result of their coaching, contributing ultimately to a successful, happy and confident return to work.  At P&P we are experts at identifying, supporting and working with these and other issues that arise throughout the expectancy, period of leave and re-integration.

Expectancy:

  • Recognising how to move through change personally.
  • Understanding the impact of self-expectations.
  • Reflecting on the change of self-identity from professional to parent and then parent to working parent.
  • Reflecting on personal needs right now – emotional and practical – and ensuring good levels of confidence to communicate these.
  • Feeling prepared for leave in terms of practical issues such as handover, keeping in touch and performance management.
  • Assessing relationships and ensuring there is a strong personal support network in place for the period of leave.

Leave:

  • Reflecting on how returning to work is making us feel; identifying and working through personal concerns or barriers.
  • Understanding how time away from work has equipped us with additional skills – what are these new skills?  How can they be transferred to the workplace?
  • Preparing for the practicalities of return, for example; supporting conversations with the business around flexible working or preparing for the logistical challenges of being a working parent.
  • Thinking ahead – what does an ideal work/family balance look like?  What does an ideal reintegration look and feel like?

Return:

  • Checking in around self-expectations and priorities.
  • Reflecting on how to balance the often-conflicting demands of home and work with a clearer perspective.
  • Identifying what is needed most right now; setting objectives and putting together plans
  • Looking to the future; what does success look like for the individual as a working parent.
  • Discussing and preparing for proactive communication with managers and other stakeholders in terms of practical arrangements such as a reintegration plan.
  • Boosting career management skills for the future, such as networking and improving visibility.

The benefit of having someone objective to talk to about concerns and issues makes a big difference for employees as Myla explains:

“I had coaching with P&P with two of my pregnancies at work and I’m not sure how I would have managed without. I could share any worries I had and didn’t feel judged. The coaches were clearly passionate about supporting me and have a lot of experience in helping employees through change. Things we discussed included helping me to communicate with my manager regarding a promotion before my return and some personal issues at home. The coaches helped me to explore what it was that I really wanted to be doing and how I wanted to be as a working parent.”

Recent feedback we have received:

“This was easily one of the most worthwhile experiences of my career, in terms of helping me to manage the current situation and in preparing for the future. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone and I plan to consult my manager to see if I can continue to work with my coach.”

“My coach was great, very helpful and always encouraging. I felt I could be myself when speaking with her and she really played a big part in helping to build my confidence in how I approached various aspects of work pre and post maternity leave.”

“My coach was so valuable to me in a very difficult situation. I left every session feeling positive and better about myself and even in days where I feel lost again, I hold onto what we have agreed by way of actions and use that as a focus. She is extremely personable and made a real effort to connect and understand me as a person. She is an excellent approachable coach and I only wish I could have had more sessions. I treasure the four that I had with her.”


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