How to Survive a Corporate Acquisition; Seven Tips from the Trenches

26da09bThe company you work for is being acquired. Panic sets in. You didn’t choose to work for this company. Your colleagues are certain that it is a matter of time before you are all out of a job. The transition period begins in fits and starts, so people are in limbo. People begin thinking the work they’re doing is futile. The acquiring organization claims transparency, but no one believes them. What do you do now?

As I write this, I am currently in the midst of an acquisition. I’ve been here before and will likely be here again. While it can be daunting, it can also be an exciting time. It is what you make of it.

Based on my experience, I’ve compiled seven must-have tips for surviving and thriving during this transition.

Keep working hard. Do not slow down, do not give up. Things will change, but you still have goals to accomplish. Work towards them. Your goals may change, but you will have proven that you can remain focused on the big picture.

Be flexible. Be ready, willing, and able to adapt to new management, new processes, new resources, and new goals. Embrace the change and the challenges. An example is that you may have additional resources at your disposal. Do not take this as a threat. Be excited! Most people feel fear; fear that someone will look at your work and criticize it. Constructive criticism is fantastic! You learn from it, it improves your work, and makes you a more valuable asset.

Share your ideas. If the acquiring organization indicates that they want to hear your ideas, be vocal. You just might drive organizational change and process improvement.

Relinquish control. Recognize this is a time where details are being worked out at a higher level. Plans may be in place or investigations may be in progress to determine how to merge the two companies. Stay calm because there is nothing else you can do.

Maintain control. Wait, this is in direct conflict with the previous paragraph! You cannot control everything, but control what you can. Determine how to sell yourself inside and outside of the organization (in case you do not make it through the acquisition).

A good way to sell yourself is to create a SHORT presentation that tells the story of your career path in your current company. This is especially helpful when you’ve been working for a smaller organization where you may have fulfilled multiple roles; be prepared to share the breadth of your skill set with the new organization.

Remember, it’s possible that you may decide that you do not want to work for the acquirer. Take this opportunity to explore your interests and continue to expand your skill set.

Stay positive. Negativity is insidious and has far reaching effects.

Listen carefully. As you are going through the integration process, listen to what they are asking. If the acquiring company provides an overview of the integration, ask high level, integration-related questions. Do not ask job-specific questions or be self-promoting. They are looking to learn about departments, roles, and resources. You will have a chance to sell yourself, and if not, then make sure you get the chance at a later date.

Originally published on August 26, 2014

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