Twitter just named co-founder Jack Dorsey its permanent CEO. Dorsey, who previously occupied Twitter’s chief executive slot before losing it under controversial circumstances, joins a proud tradition of Silicon Valley executives who spent some time in exile before reassuming the helm of the company they created.
But you don’t need to be a tech mogul to understand that coming back to a company is a potentially tortuous decision, especially if you’re transitioning back into your old role. After all, you departed before, perhaps leaving unfinished business (and unresolved conflict) in your wake.
Even if you’ve done an internal analysis and found that a return is the right thing for your career, and you’ve gone through the interview and acceptance process, you’re still going to face the challenge of transitioning back into an office that’s evolved since you left. You will not only deal with new people with their own agendas, but also old colleagues who might regard you with some suspicion.
In other words, it’s a potential minefield. Here are some tips for navigating it:
Prep Any Former Co-Workers
Chances are pretty good that at least some of your former colleagues hung around the company after you left. Before you walk back through the doors, it might be a good idea to send those people a quick note to let them know about your return—and to patch up any lingering issues from your previous tour of duty (if any).
As an alternative to a note, you can also consider a one-on-one meeting. They’ll likely appreciate the personal touch, which will help you re-start your time at the company with the proverbial clean slate.
Get That Explanation Ready
People are going to ask why you decided to return. You’re free to answer as you choose, of course, but it might be best to frame things in a company-positive light. “You offered me a lot more money than before,” however truthful, probably won’t sit well with your colleagues. “I really like the new strategy you’re developing,” on the other hand, will broadcast the right message about your renewed dedication to the company.
Assume You’re Starting From Zero
Whether you were away for two months or two years, you can’t expect things to instantly resume where you left them off. You’re going to need to rebuild your reservoir of political capital with your colleagues, as well as your reputation as someone who gets things done. That will take time and work, and you may need to bite your tongue at moments; be patient and keep your cool.