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Weathering the Transition When Your Company is Acquired or Merging

Tens of thousands of companies each year are acquired by or merge with another company. If your company is one of them, you will likely find your workplace going through a period of disruption and uncertainty once the company integration process begins. It can be a stressful, even traumatic, time, as you may find yourself reporting to a new boss, working with people from a different corporate culture and having to adjust to new policies and procedures.

Of course, your main concern will be finding out what your job status is once the dust settles. Will you be considered redundant and laid off? Will you be moved to another department? But the big question is: what should you do?

The following are some possible strategies for weathering your company’s transition after an acquisition or merger and ultimately, protecting your employment status and peace of mind.

Take stock of the situation.

Look at your strengths and what you bring to the table for the new management. Also identify the threats and opportunities that the acquisition or merger presents. Threats could include possible staff duplications and a lack of support from your boss whose job may also be threatened. Opportunities include expanding department, new roles, and possible advancement. You also want to research the acquiring company and introduce yourself to the new owners or management to make your presence known as well as let them know of your interest in continuing with the company.

Assessing your situation is one approach to gaining a sense of control and reducing anxiety. It also provides you with an idea of what skills, knowledge, etc., you can and should highlight to new supervisors and how you might be able to make an impact in the new company (for example, by having expertise with a specific technology or knowledge of a particular product line). Also, because not all mergers and acquisitions are disruptive, you can learn as much as possible about what direction the new company may be taking.

Keep doing your job and maintaining top performance.

By keeping your head down and continuing to complete your projects and meet your deadlines, you’ll avoid being distracted by workplace gossip about the new circumstances (some of which may not be true). You’ll also heighten your sense of control over the situation if you are still getting your job done and performing at your best. That kind of focus during the transition will likely be noticed and appreciated by the new management and could impact your future standing, whether you remain with the company or end up having to move on.

Be aware of opportunities to contribute and show your value during the transition.

While you want to maintain focus on your job, you don’t want to lose sight of what your current or new bosses may be looking for from you. They may need you to take on a new task or responsibility, work extra hours, or step up and help with projects related to the company integration. You want to make sure you are demonstrating your value and showing that you are a team player, as the acquiring company will want to know where the talent is. By being proactive, allowing new management to see what you have to offer, and pursuing opportunities to help with the transition, you increase your chances of being viewed as an employee that the company can’t live without.

Be prepared for a possible layoff or resignation.

It’s always a good idea to keep your resume up to date and polished, but if you haven’t touched it in a while, there’s no better time than now to dust if off. You want to make sure you’re ready to launch a new job search, especially if the outcome of the merger/acquisition appears uncertain, or you see signs such as key people being let go or previous advancement opportunities now being blocked. Even when management has assured employees there will be no layoffs, they can occur suddenly down the road, so make sure you’re prepared. You’ll also want to reconnect to people in your network with whom you’ve lost touch to get feelers out in the current job market. Keep in mind that even if you don’t get laid off, you may decide to leave because you feel the new company is not a fit.

Welcome the experience.

Change can be painful but it also provides an opportunity for growth. Going through the process of a company merger or acquisition and witnessing all its dynamics can be educational, providing you with knowledge and skills that you may value when you get further down your career path. If you try to go with it and treat it as a new experience, you’ll see that it adds to your professional growth and business savvy. By being proactive, positive and pursuing opportunities that best fit your goals, you can better control your career direction and come out a winner in the end.

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