Q: I am about to start a new job, after nine years with my present employer. I am trying not to burn any bridges at my current job, but I need to think ahead to making it through a probationary period. I'm excited and scared. Advice, please! - Anita
A: Dale: Beyond the probation period lies the real issue: how to make this move a part of a thriving career. You mentioned not burning bridges, but you also need to keep open all the bridges you've constructed during your job search.
Recontact anyone you asked for help and tell them the good news. Ask if you can keep them up to date on your progress, and tell them you hope you'll have a chance to be of help to them. In doing so, you have moved from just another job seeker to a successful colleague, offering to be part of circles of helping.
For those people you met during the search whom you most admired, a lunch or meeting for coffee is a chance to gather wisdom - not just learning the new job, but evolving in your profession.
Kate: While doing your recontacting, I would go so far as to call the people who turned you down for jobs - you never know when they'll be hiring in the future.
As for starting the position, you need to figure out the new culture. I had one client who was a "touchy-feely" manager. His style made his new team feel patronized and manipulated, and his employees did him in. He learned what work needed to be done but failed to learn how it got done at the new company.
So, Anita, meet everyone, be visible, but hold off on doing anything daring until your probationary period is over. I advise my clients to ask during job interviews, "Six months from now, what would you like to be able to say about the person you hire?" Ask a revised version of that question again so you'll get a fresh definition of expectations.
Dale: Likewise, ask your new employees and co-workers about their work, goals and lives. Keep notes. What you ask isn't as important as the asking - questions imply respect, and giving respect is the best way to get it.
- Kate Wendleton is the founder of The Five O'Clock Club, a national career-counseling network. Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators' Lab.