My menopause journey wasn't easy.
I didn't know what was going on - I didn't know it was menopause until after I'd been through it - and I ended up leaving my senior role in financial services due to my symptoms and lack of support and understanding.
I don't want that to happen to you or anyone else.
Since my experience of menopause, I've been working to increase awareness of menopause, particularly in the workplace, as the effects of dealing with menopause at work can be devastating.
As you can imagine, managing menopause symptoms while trying to maintain your sense of self, focus and retain your level of skill at work can feel like an impossible task.
I'm here to reassure that it is not impossible!
One of the best solutions is to begin with a conversation with a certified Menopause Champion, a line manager, Occupational Health or HR colleague who is trained in menopause signposting and support, or from a qualified Menopause Coach.
All should be able to outline your options and in different ways, help you begin to create your own personal menopause plan.
Speaking to your boss about menopause might feel uncomfortable, but it's important to have open communication to ensure you receive the support you need.
9 Tips for Effective Menopause Conversations
Choose the right time and place
It's important to have this conversation in a private setting where you feel comfortable and won't be interrupted. You may also want to schedule a time with your boss in advance to ensure they have enough time to listen and respond to your concerns.
I found going out for a walk helped avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.
Be honest and direct
Don't beat around the bush. They may well not understand convoluted references.
Explain what you're experiencing, how it makes you feel and how it's impacting your work. They may already have noticed some changes in your work, and be relieved that you aren't secretly stepping back from your work.
Focus on the symptoms and their impact
Instead of only talking about the fact that you're going through menopause, focus on the symptoms you're currently experiencing, how they are impacting your work and what other challenges might lay ahead.
This will help your boss understand why you need support and why you aren't able to predict what you'll need in the future and for how long.
Come prepared with solutions
Especially if menopause isn't part of the discussion in your organisation.
Your boss may not be familiar with menopause and its symptoms, and there may be a lack of policies around menopause at work. Ideally, come prepared with some solutions that could help you manage your symptoms at work.
This could be as simple as taking more frequent breaks or adjusting your workspace temperature. Share this post with your boss if you are struggling with being assertive about your needs.
Be open to alternative solutions.
You might not be the first to have come forward about menopause and your boss may have suggestions that you hadn't considered.
I invite you to be open to alternative solutions and be willing to see what options are available. At the same time, don't feel pressured to take an 'easy option' if it doesn't feel right for you.
Menopause is a natural stage in your life, and there is NO need to apologise for it.
Be confident about the fact that you are valued, and that you deserve support.
What is important to you might not be at the top of everyone's list... yet.
After the conversation, check in with your boss to make sure they are following through on the solutions you discussed.
It's also a good idea to keep them up to date on your progress, on the positive impact the solutions have made, as well as provide them with any changes in your symptoms or requirements.
You don't need to stick with a no-longer useful plan just because it worked initially.
Seek additional support
Regardless of the support you agree at work, don't hesitate to seek additional support from HR, your doctor, family and friends.
You are equally deserving of a good work life as anyone else.
Suggest to your boss that there are a number of resources to easily improve menopause support at work.
Our Become a Menopause Champion is an excellent first step to provide dedicated and knowledgeable individuals in your business and takes only a half day to complete.
The Become a Menopause Coach programme is an 18 week diploma and an excellent choice for those wishing to fully support others through menopause.
Many of our coaches come from a corporate or HR background, and the training is perfect for any organisation wishing to offer support to everyone!
Having a conversation with your boss about menopause may feel slightly, or even very, uncomfortable.
Remember, your boss or team leader values the work you do, and wants to support you.
Knowing more about menopause in general, and what you need in particular, is important for your enjoyment, and well-being at work.
You deserve it!
I'd love to hear your reflections on this blog and how I can help you and your organisation to become menopause savvy AND supportive.
Your coach, trainer and menopause champion,