Question: One of my employees claims to be suffering from "pregnancy brain." "Kate" was always a little spacey, but in recent weeks she has become extremely forgetful. Tasks which she routinely performed for years are now being overlooked, and I'm beginning to get complaints from other departments.
I don't want to seem unsympathetic or be accused of discrimination, but I need to solve this problem. When I asked Kate how I could help, she suggested that I just keep reminding her about things that need to be done. That's obviously not realistic, so how do I handle this?
Answer: Although opinions vary about the cause, medical experts generally agree that pregnancy can affect cognitive processes, so Kate's explanation is probably valid. When discussing these concerns with her, the best approach is not to criticize but to demonstrate understanding while requesting help in solving the most crucial problems.
Regardless of whether she prefers computer-generated prompts or strategically placed sticky notes, the objective is simply to trigger Kate's memory at appropriate times. But before having any pregnancy-related discussion, be sure to avoid legal pitfalls by consulting your labor attorney or human resources manager.
Marie G. McIntyre, author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics," can be reached at www.yourofficecoach.com.