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Getting 'phased out' at work

(8 Posts)
KatieWatie Sun 03-Jul-11 08:50:46

Does anyone else feel like they're being 'phased' at work? I know it probably sounds a bit paranoid but it is really upsetting me.

We've all had a bad time over the past couple of years - lots of redundancies and I personally had no manager/boss for about a year until January, it was a really stressful time. I could've literally done nothing for that year but I was pro-active and worked on lots of initiatives. I managed to keep my job which is at least something.

My new boss coming in co-incided with me getting pregnant and I waited til 12 weeks purely because I wanted my boss to see me for being me rather than being someone who would be leaving in 9 months time. This worked and I was trusted with lots of stuff, sent on training etc.

As soon as I told them I was pregnant I might as well have told them I have had a lobotomy. I am watching as my colleague is continually given work that could be given to me - she is a pushy type that I don't trust, and I think has always felt a bit threatened by my presence so this is a perfect opportunity for her. I no longer feel part of the team, and others in the dept who used to get me involved in stuff no longer do. I am not 'playing the pregnancy card' (whatever that means) and I think others only know I am pregnant from word of mouth and my now very obvious bump (I have been covering up with a fleece but it's too hot for that now).

I still have 12 weeks to go (though 2 of them are leave) and I am now dreading going into work every day to sit and do nothing and be undermined by my colleague. I have mentioned in a roundabout way to the pushy colleague how I feel (a mistake but I arrived at work in tears that day and was very emotional). She suggested that our boss is just 'looking after me' as he has a wife who was recently pregnant and will understand! What a cop out but maybe she's right. I don't want to be 'looked after' in this way though as it is really stressful. I want to be given work and be treated normally sad My colleague has a history of going behind backs and I am wondering if she is having 'quiet words' with my boss and telling him things that aren't true e.g. that I should be given less work because I can't cope. I can't confront her (or my boss) about this as it will look like sour grapes.

I had my end of year review a couple of weeks back and finally got a proper job description and targets, but my boss said "obviously you won't be meeting a lot of these targets because you are leaving soon". This seems to sum things up.

One example is that last year during the managerless time I built the webpage for our division because nobody else was interested in learning how to do it and I had the capacity at the time. New corporate web software is being brought in and one of my targets now is to rebuild the webpages with the new software, yet I have found out that meetings about the webpages and their content have gone on that I have not been invited to! How can I meet my targets in this case?

Work is still really important to me and I was hoping to go back, at least part time if not full time, afterwards, but this 'phasing out' doesn't bode well. I know there will be further redundancies and I am half hoping it will be me next which is an awful way to think as I had liked my job. The paranoid part of me feels they are setting me up to be "the one who is made redundant" and my colleague is rubbing her hands together with glee. The thought of taking 9 months out (which I was going to) and going back to a nothing job is just dreadful.

I haven't had any time off sick at all and have 'worked back' all my midwife appts and scans. I've been ultra-loyal during a terrible time for our division and company and I feel like I'm being treated really badly.

I can't bear the thought of 10 more working weeks being the same as the previous 10, and I know I should be enjoying this time and not feel stressed but work is a big part of my life so I am in tears all the time about this sad

Any advice or should I just suck it up and concentrate on the baby?

kiteflying Sun 03-Jul-11 10:25:54

I am really sorry this is happening to you. It happened to me. It is really awful but believe it or not, it really is not as important as your baby's arrival.
Given your reasonable sense of foreboding, you may as well ask for cards on the table from your manager, telling how much effort you had put in while managerless to keep your role going and how disappointed you are etc etc. If they are phasing you out, there is no point you being coy. Get it out in the open - hopefully shame them into giving some sort of assurances that your job will be there in nine months time. There must be some way you can present it that is not offensively confrontational. It will either give you peace of mind or closure - either way it will make it easier for you to focus on the baby and not let anxiety about work overshadow what should be a lovely nesting time for you. Good luck. Don't give up if you love your job, but don't forget it might be easier to fight when you go back to work rather than now. You need to know where you stand though.

TransatlanticCityGirl Sun 03-Jul-11 11:11:51

That's horrible Katie.

I would have a chat with my boss, tell him that I'm still very keen and excited about delivering some of my objectives before my maternity leave starts, but that I'm finding it difficult to stay on top of them because of factors you mention. Then ask if he has any suggestions to help.

(I'd also speak to the various meeting managers who are excluding me and ensure I am invited in future - be a pest if I have to!)

Also perhaps you can identify a distinct project or piece of work you can do that is achievable in 10 weeks, that you can own? If he's worried you won't be able to complete something perhaps you can agree a back-up handover plan?

I am lucky - my boss stretched me to the max right up until my last week. She only started backing off about 3 days before my last day. The expectation was that anything I couldn't complete would be handed over, so not a problem.

Also I was very clear with her that I was fully engaged, and hoped to remain engaged, and what my expectations were with regard to how I keep in touch whilst on maternity leave. I've been advised by a number of very senior / successful women who I respect that keeping in touch while on leave is very important. I said I'd like to be copied in on any important presentations / emails, be kept up to date on any projects I owned but had to hand over, and that I would have monthly catch ups with my maternity cover for the duration (barring perhaps the first 2 months after baby is born).

My immediate team have been fully supportive so far (3 weeks into my leave) and I'm in touch once or twice a week so far. It helps that I'm offering them an opportunity to ask me questions etc so there's something in it for them too. For others not in my team, I'm already being excluded from some emails, and I've emailed them asking them to kindly keep me copied. I get the usual "you should be relaxing, you have more important things to do" blah blah blah but at the end of the day, it's my choice.

you may or may not want to keep in touch once your maternity leave starts, but I think the key is communicate your expectations with your boss. He might be assuming you want to be phased out and playing it safe, since there are many women who would WANT to tune out the second they get their BFP.

Good luck to you!

fallingandlaughing Sun 03-Jul-11 11:13:02

Are you sure this is what your boss intends? It doesn't really matter what your pushy colleague wants because she is not in charge. Maybe your boss is genuinely trying to look after you - it may not be what you want, but it doesn't have to mean you are under threat. I wouldn't worry about them saying you won't meet many of your targets - it is a fact that you are going to be off, after all. It sounds like you are pushing yourself pretty hard - were you asked to work back your appointments?

Why not have a meeting with your manager and say that you want to make the most of the 10 weeks before your mat leave, suggest some projects etc. You could also talk about your keeping in touch days and if you want to use them? But also remember this is a special time and you don't want to be burned out and stressed out before the baby is here.

Reallea Sun 03-Jul-11 11:23:12

I felt very similar to this and had a real tricky time with my boss who wanted me to go on maternity leave six weeks before the baby was born... They had had some pregnant women working there who had suffered all sorts of things like preeclampsia and even a waters breaking at work so they really didnt seem to believe I was up to working hard right up to the end and I had a tricky time convincing them... In the end I worked up to 10 days before due date and when he was a week late I was kicking myself I hadn't stayed later! So anyway it's obviously different for diffentpregnancies and they may just be concerned that you are one who needs to wind down but you clearly aren't!

It's so hard to believe but you probably will feel so differently about work after the baby is born. I loved my job and swore to everyone I would be bored stiff at home with a baby and would be racing back to work full time. I was furious that the promotion that would have been mine came up as a job opportunity 2 weeks after ds was born went to a less experienced colleague ( they interviewed me but i never stood a chance as they needed someone to fill the role immediately- or maybe it was the fact that my boobs leaked during the interview..who knows!) But the reality is that perspective changed for me and although I returned full time as promised to them and most importantly, myself, so that I was able to know that I could do it, my heart just wasn't in it and I yearned to be back at home with DS. So now I am going part time to only 2 days a week but I think that is just a selfish thing for me as almost a social thing! I realised that people look back and don't say they had wished they had spent more time at work and instead they say they wish they had spent more time with their LOs so I feel like I'm doing the right thing. Oh and now I am pg again so actually I will now probably just give up after having done pregnancy as part time... How strange that I should have changed my perspective so much... I never would have believed it.

Anyway I say all this as its really possible than new boss thinks this is how you will feel too, especially as his wife recently had a child, perhaps this is how she felt. Maybe she struggled in the latter half of her pregnancy. In my opinion the best thing to do would be to arrange a Meeting with him and explain your worries, especially if you do not trust the colleague to not be putting words into your mouth, by going behind your back. Surely he will appreciate your honesty and worries, he mY admit that yes he has been trying to make it easy for you and be happy to accept that you do not feel like you need it, my boss had to accept that I was still raring to go and that I wasn't seeing the pregnNcy as a reason to slow down and so fingers crossed he will for you

KatieWatie Sun 03-Jul-11 14:26:23

Thanks all for the encouraging words.

I've sort of already had the cards-on-the-table chat with my manager a couple of weeks back. He wanted to know what my 'plans' would be for coming back to which I didn't commit either way (how can you?) but I did make it clear that I intended to come back in some capacity and also that I wanted to use all the Keeping In Touch days. In an ideal world I would also like to do as per TransatlanticCityGirl and be kept up to date while off, but I doubt this will happen in reality. It feels like they're just pleased to have an excuse to not have to worry about me for a bit (if ever again) because I have a bit of an anomalous job - it doesn't really fit into any distinct area or career path, and I pretty much write my own job description on a quarterly basis depending on what needs doing. I will speak to my boss again this week if I can get hold of him, and make sure he knows I want to be fully utilised for the next 10 weeks.

My manager admitted he had never managed a pregnant colleague before and has no idea what the protocol is. I've never BEEN pregnant before either so it's very much blind leading the blind. He doesn't know how Keeping In Touch days should be used or how we are meant to plan them. HR are not being very helpful. I do feel a bit sorry for him.

Reallea at the moment I hope I will feel the same and not be so bothered about work as I am now! It's really hard to know how you'll feel when it's a totally new situation. I can't wait for the baby to arrive but at the same time I dread the thought of not having work to go to, even though I dread going so much at the moment. It's a weird paradox.

TransatlanticCityGirl Sun 03-Jul-11 16:27:45

Try not to worry/dread about the time off... I did (and even spent a few evenings crying over it) and it actually hasn't been so bad!! Switching off has been easier than I thought it would be and it's quite nice to be able to dabble in and out of work related matters as and when I feel like it (rather than as and when I'm told!)

It is different, and I do have some days when I am bored senseless (still waiting for baby!) but one thing that helped me is to start a task list of things I'd like to get done while waiting and slowly work my way through that which helps me feel like I've actually accomplished something!

fluffles Sun 03-Jul-11 16:33:30

if you've genuinely got capacity for more work right now then why not just say to them that although you understand they don't want to give you stuff you can't do while away, can you please have some work/objectives specifically to deliver before you go?

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