In This Story, It’s Called a Pride of Mums
A Case Study: Alice’s Story:
Alice always knew that as soon as she started a family, she wanted to spend quality time with her children in their early years, before they came of school age. She also knew she didn’t want to stop working. She and her husband, Colin, had bought a bigger home ahead of their son’s arrival. They needed both of their incomes to cover their mortgage and living expenses. And besides, Alice enjoyed her work as a computer programmer, and it was a job she could easily do from home, fitting her work hours around taking care of her baby. Or so she thought.
And in theory, it should have been, but in reality, it wasn’t about to be. Alice felt that once she got her work done, she could manage the hours that worked best for her around the demands of the role. This was because she knew she could complete her work within the specified timeframes, which didn’t require set hours.
But her manager thought differently. While he was OK with her working from home following her maternity leave, he wanted to set her hours. His reasoning was that she needed to be on hand to respond to calls and emails as they came in – which was normally between 9 am – 5 pm. Alice’s reasoning was once she responded in a timely manner, and at some point within these hours, as she had always done, this shouldn’t be an issue. This was because she believed adhering to specified deadlines would ensure projects were on track at every stage, therefore eliminating the need for urgent responses. While in disagreement over setting the hours needed to deliver on the role, Alice and her manager agreed to discuss this further ahead of her coming back to work in an attempt to resolve the matter.
Alice had never realised it before, but she came to learn that while her company said they supported new mums in their worklife, the truth was they had little understanding of what it meant to become a parent. She wasn’t happy about this. It was clear to her that her Plan A in being a working mum wasn’t going to work. At this stage, she was just about to start her maternity leave, which meant she had six months to come up with a Plan B.
Soon after her son, Adam, was born, Alice mingled with other new mums and babies. Sharing her story about how, when it came time to go back to work, that she knew the experience wouldn’t be what she wanted it to be, she came to learn it wasn’t just her company who, in theory, claimed to be supportive of working mums, but in reality weren’t.
Some of the women said they were made to feel they had to choose family or career, that they couldn’t have both. Others said while their company claimed they were OK with flexible working hours, they then unreasonably dictated what those hours were. And others felt they lost out on learning opportunities because there was a sense they were less committed to their career.
It was that last point that got Alice thinking. As a group, they were all accomplished women, each with their area of expertise and all with a desire to continue their learning, development and growth. Alice’s idea was if that was being denied of them by their workplace, why not create their own learning programmes to help each other take their worklife in the direction they wanted to.
At this point, she wasn’t thinking that this would help resolve the dilemma she was facing on her return to work. She still didn’t know how she would do that. She focused on this point because she felt as a collective, the women in the group could help each other with their learning wants and needs.
Alice had an idea to create online coding classes, that was her area of expertise, and she knew there was an ongoing increasing demand for these. She could create them in the time that worked best for her. The other women worked in a range of roles to include law, finance, administrative, teaching, retail, HR, marketing, sales and product design. They each had ideas for online learning courses they could create to help people in their industry, and in some cases, across industries to learn, develop and grow.
As a group, they agreed that mums could tap into these resources for free to facilitate their learning wants and needs. This was open to all mums, mums who chose to stay at home, who wanted to continue to learn. And mums who chose to go back to work who weren’t getting the support they needed for their learning needs from their company.
The group also wanted to test if this could be a financially viable project. This was because, as with Alice, others too were open to discovering a Plan B to create a WorkLife that was respectful of their values – a desire to spend quality time with their family while also enjoying their time at work, without pressure to choose one over the other. Along with a want and need to continue to learn
The test they carried out was that each approached companies within their respective industries, letting them know about the learning programmes they were creating and asking if this was of interest to them.
It was to many companies who recognised how valuable these programmes would be to their employees. Soon the group were unlocking the potential of mums in the workforce forming collaborative partnerships with a range of companies across different sectors.
Once Alice had validation that their idea was financially viable, she had a conversation with her boss. She let him know about the programme she had created and asked if the company would be interested in purchasing it to be part of their online library of learning resources for their workforce.
The company did purchase this programme. They also purchased generic programmes from the group – marketing, sales, administrative and HR programmes – to include a programme to help people understand what it means to become a parent and the support needed to build meaningful WorkLives for company workforces both in and out of the workplace.
This was just the beginning of the change in Alice’s working relationship with the company and with her boss.
Through conversations, they both realised they were at an impasse over the working hours. Sensing this would happen, Alice had come prepared with her Plan B. That was a proposal to create further programmes for their online library of learning, specific to the company and their industry. That she and her boss were able to come to an agreement about.
Alice is now a freelance e-learning consultant with the company. They come to her when they need her skills, knowledge and experience to create those specific programmes.
The collective of creative thinkers continues to grow in the work they’re putting out into the world. They’ve had a few dad’s join their team, and now the group are known as a Pride of Parents.
Tapping into a Collective of Creative Thinkers Assignment
The collective power of creative thinkers is everywhere – e.g. people you have shared interests or values with, i.e. for Alice, that was mums who valued quality time with their family, enjoyment at work and a desire to continue to learn.
Step 1: To begin your creative thinking assignment, share your dilemma with people you have a shared interest. When you do, they’ll likely share their dilemmas/experiences with you. This is helpful because you’ll probably come to learn you’re not alone in your experience.
Shared stories of experiences are the starting point to get ideas flowing of what you could do to resolve your dilemma, or, as with Alice, that may come later.
Step 2: Follow through on ideas that come to you – i.e. for Alice, that was to create online coding classes.
Step 3: Validate your idea to get a sense as to whether it’s of interest to other people – i.e. for Alice, that meant asking her boss if this was something the company would be interested in purchasing.
Words of Wisdom
You can work on steps 2 and 3 alone or with a group or both, as Alice did.
As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.
The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.
I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.
Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.
My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.
Your WorkLife Your Way Book and Workbook 90% off Sale
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The book is reduced from £19.99 to £2.00.
Here’s a link to Your WorkLife Your Way (the workbook) in my Shopify Store. Just enter the Discount Code: 144Y3V3GM6CR at checkout to get your 90% discount.