If you are one of those people who were laid off in our down economy and were out of work for a while, landing a new job can be an exciting and exhilarating experience, and that's the way it should be. But landing the job is only the first step in making a successful transition back to work. Here are some simple tips to help you cross the bridge to your new job.
Eliminate latent layoff baggage, transform your out-of-work habits
When you've been laid off from a job, it's common to develop a lot of unconscious issues that can be hard to shed when it's time to go back to work. I call these issues latent layoff baggage. This includes anger with your former employer and manager for laying you off, self-doubt about your skills and abilities since you think this is the reason you were laid off, fear you could be laid off again, and the like.
It's important to become conscious of these thoughts so you can "see" what you're doing to yourself and "choose" whether to let them have power over you. Remember, all those thoughts related to your layoff are only your personal interpretation of the events surrounding your layoff, and they are usually not accurate. Seeing this can help a lot in lettering them go.
When you return to work, you're going to have to adjust to the work world again, and that can be tiring and stressful. To mitigate the impact, you might want to take a few days before returning to work and get up and go to bed at your new work times, engage in your typical work activities during your work hours and maybe even fake a commute. All this can help you get back into the work "routine."
Manage the impact on your personal life
When you've been out of work for a while, you find that you have more time to spend with family and friends and enjoying sports and hobbies. When you go back to work, all that's going to change, and it can impact you, your family and your friends. It's wise to sit down with your family and discuss the impact of your returning to work on all of you and find ways to mitigate any unpleasantness. The thing to remember is to create a healthy work/life balance.
Rebuild your knowledge/skills base
While you were out of work, there's a good chance that you didn't stay up to speed on your industry knowledge and skills. If you take the time to get back up to speed before you return to work, you'll feel a lot more secure and comfortable in your new job. You can do this by taking training classes (classroom or online), doing research on the Internet, reading books, or getting assistance from friends and former coworkers.
When you get on the job, be sure to find someone on staff who can serve as a mentor/coach to you. Ask your manager and co-workers who they would recommend and find out if they have the bandwidth to help you.
Create realistic expectations
When you first start on a new job, it's critical to work with your manager to develop a performance plan that outlines your goals for the year. This should be done within 30 days of your start date. The written performance plan should specify a set of reasonable and measurable goals for you to achieve during the year and should be signed and dated by both you and your manager. It's also wise to make sure a copy is placed in your HR file.
Without a performance plan, it is very difficult if not impossible to fairly assess your performance at the end of the year and give you the salary increase you deserve. Finally, if your boss isn't getting the plan done as you near the end of your first 30 days, write up one yourself and then submit it to him/her for approval and signature. Many managers have a hard time developing performance plans so they avoid them. If you do it for them, they can simply review it, maybe suggest a few changes and then it's done. That way, you both win!
Maintain your network of job search contacts
Your personal and LinkedIn network contacts can be invaluable to you in the workplace in providing coaching, brainstorming, business contacts, potential new customers, references and much more. You can do the same for them as well. Remember, use your network or lose it!
Avoid comparing yourself to co-workers
One thing returning workers often do is to compare themselves to their co-workers. This is an unrealistic comparison since your co-workers have been working for the company much longer than you and will have more knowledge about the company's policies, procedures, customers, suppliers, internal systems and software, etc. than you do. So be gentle and kind with yourself and give yourself time to acquire this information and catch up with your peers.
Develop relationships with key players
One thing that can really help your acceptance and growth in your new company is to develop relationships with key players throughout the company. These are the decision makers, thought leaders, go-to guy/gal, great brainstormers and idea generators and the like. Once you get to know them and their problems and concerns, you can help them. Once you help them, they in turn will want to help you. It's a win-win situation.
As a part of building relationships with your fellow employees, it also important to remember to acknowledge and praise people for their outstanding efforts and accomplishments. This is one of the most powerful tools in the workplace and it costs nothing. If you model this type of behavior, others will start to do the same and it will slowly transform the workplace in more ways than you can imagine. Don't forget to acknowledge/praise your management too and then watch it come back to you.
Learn active listening and questioning skills
Active listening is simply the ability to give your full attention to what someone is saying and have the ability to paraphrase what they said back to them to prove you were listening. Your co-workers and managers want to be heard, and this technique will you do that and make you more successful. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth so use them in that proportion.
Larry LaBelle is president of Training Tamer, which provides comprehensive training, coaching and support services for job seekers, HR staffers and hiring managers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Training Tamer, visit trainingtamer.com or call (813) 924-8404.