The Employee’s Guide for Surviving a Merger & Acquisition
“I wondered if I would lose my job despite what we were told. We all know when mergers happen there are overlaps, or for other reasons you can get pushed out,” he said.
From MSNBC Careers article “How to survive and thrive after an acquisition” by Eve Tahmincioglu
The recent announcement that Kellogg was buying Pringles immediately made me think of what such an acquisition means to employees on both sides of the transaction fence.
As highlighted in the above referenced article excerpt, the initial reaction is usually one of fear and trepidation centered on whether one will lose their job by becoming an expendable redundancy as a result of the newer, merged company.
While there are no shortages of well-intentioned articles highlighting the top 3, 5, 7 or for that matter a pick of any number of steps to securing your future in a changing corporate reality, the fact remains that job security is something that you build long before an M&A occurs by demonstrating your value to your company in a tangible and meaningful way.
Long before terms such as personal brand entered the mainstream lexicon of business speak, who we were and what we provided was reflected in comments such as “you know that Joe is a hard worker, and you can depend on him to be there when you need him!” In essence, and even though we didn’t call it personal branding way back when, that is what we were doing . . . building our brand based upon how those around us perceived our contributions in the workplace.
Sadly, like a runner who shows up at the starting line of a race without having trained in the months and years leading up to the competition will have a limited chance of winning. Far too many employees do not think about how their “brand” is perceived by co-workers as well as management until after an M&A is announced. It seems that the only time we ask ourselves these hard questions is when we feel that our job is at risk.
So the short answer to the question “how do I survive an M&A” is to be both conscientious and proactive from day one when you start a new job. Be outgoing in meeting and engaging with your co-workers and senior management. It’s all about your ability to build and sustain rapport. Undertake assigned tasks with both energy, passion and enthusiasm. Remember that similar to relationships, there are going to be good days and challenging ones as well, so think in terms of running a marathon as opposed to a sprint. Over time, you will create an enviable brand that if and when an M&A occurs, you will be well positioned to make the leap to a new, collaborative environment. We call this “fireproofing” your bigger future.
Of course this doesn’t mean that you sit in the background quietly waiting to be noticed.
As the protagonist in the Tahminicioglu article confirms, you have to be “proactive after the merger, researching the new owners, networking with managers and putting in extra hours.” In short “you have to reach out and pursue opportunities.”
This is also good advice for those who may not have made the necessary and prudent investment relative to building their brand pre-M&A days. While you can’t go back in time and un-ring the bell so to speak, you can view an M&A as a new beginning, a mulligan to those of you who might be golf enthusiasts, to get it right the second time around.
All in all, there is no doubt that the pending changes associated with a Merger and Acquisition can be daunting. However, you do not have to get swept away by a wave of fear. Instead look at it as an opportunity as opposed to an unwelcome change, and chances are you will come out on the other side with both feet firmly and securely planted within the new enterprise. This mindset will showcase your ability to demonstrate courage, a critical leadership trait essential in today’s uncertain marketplace.
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