After enjoying vacation time, be sure to put in 'face time'


In today's cutthroat work scene, you have more than one reason to dread coming back from a vacation. Has your company been sold? Are you now reporting to a former co-worker? More likely, things will be just as you left them, but you may have been absent for key announcements and meetings.

Some people get so worried about skipping a beat that they ruin a good time by constantly calling into the office while they're on vacation. Better to take a real break from the office and just put in extra "face time" during your first few weeks back. This means not only being physically present, but also getting yourself noticed.

* Start with your mail. Signal your return by responding as quickly as you can to written requests from your supervisors, clients and customers. Browse through current publications, clip or photocopy useful articles, and send them along with quick notes to your boss and colleagues.

* Then tap into the company grapevine. Seek out the gossip maven or a trusted colleague who can highlight what's happened while you were away, and help you read the office tea leaves. Even if you feel pressure to delve into the work that's waiting, take time to mingle.

* Ask for an update from co-workers who filled in for you. Thank each of them for pinch-hitting, and offer to reciprocate when it's their turn for a break. Expect at least mild resentment from the people who sweated out a heat wave while you relished cool breezes at the shore. Don't forget to ask about their news (people remember a good listener). Put in a good word about them with the boss.

* Show enthusiasm for being back. Make your visit brief, unless the boss signals a desire to spend more time. Give some indication that you know what's happened while you were gone. Be sure to ask what's high on the manager's agenda for the next few months.

* Plunge in with extra effort. Ask co-workers what they're working on and offer ideas that might help. Speak up at meetings. Remember, somehow the company managed to get along briefly without you. You want people to realize how much better it is to have you back.

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