Posted on: April 15, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

Readers recently had a great discussion about how to survive a merger, so I thought we’d round up some of their tips…

The original question asker identified herself as a manager in a small to medium company undergoing a merger/acquisition. She noted that she was staying on, but she’d never been through an acquisition before.

Readers chimed in with great tips…

How to Survive a Merger

Be Flexible

Don’t be adverse to change, those people get cut first.

Manage Up to Prove Your Worth and Set Boundaries

Make sure you manage up well, because the acquiring company is always looking to find redundancies and cut expenses — in other words, anticipate that you’re going to have to prove your job/team’s necessity to the company, while also keeping boundaries so your team doesn’t absorb too much other work.

Prepare Your Resume, and Expect a Wave of Layoffs

“Keep your resume fresh, retention tends to be short lived.” Another commenter agreed with this, noting:

No matter what the acquiring company says to the employees of the acquired company, they have no loyalty to anyone and may not “wait until the dust settles” before making cuts. Promises are just words, and if the company thinks they can save ten dollars by cutting someone (or a team, or entire division) they likely will. OP should update her resume and review her network in preparation to start networking, and keep her eyes and ears open.

Make Friends and Allies at the Other Companies — Avoid a Turf War

One reader groaned that this had been her entire career, and gave some truly amazing advice:

1) Expect a wave of layoffs. Probably not your team, but it will happen somewhere- usually in obviously duplicative roles like finance, HR, and sometimes marketing.

2) Ask for transparency from your boss, and be transparent with your team. Make sure your team knows you have their back.

3) Make new friends and allies at the other companies. Don’t let things become a turf war. The more you can create allies the better you will fare as things progress. I’ve seen senior leaders get into p*ssing contests over the dumbest stuff. Some of my more successful career moments were when I could make things happen within the politics of the organization.

4) Related to #3, learn about NewCo! Try and really understand their products/services, and come up with ideas for how you can be “better together” if that’s the play. I got a 5 digit bonus the year I put together a cross sell map for our company and our newly merged asset. It got handed over to sales and just took off. This was in the works, but I got it done fast, really understood the products and the applicable cross sales targets, and made several good friends in sales.

Generally, expect rebranded everything, some leaders on edge, and other changes.

Prepare for Cultural Changes

Yet another commenter noted that she’d had a great experience in terms of retention when her company was acquired, but, she warned,

Things I wasn’t quite ready for were cultural changes. Despite being what I’d consider a medium sized company, we were very tight knit. Decisions were not bogged down by process or people you didn’t know by name (Thinking HR, IT, leadership, etc). We are now part of a behemoth global company and it’s just…. different. We lost a lot of that culture of feeling small and tight knit. Our division is still relatively in tact but there’s no way to shut out the corporate overlords, policies and procedures that feel exhaustive at times.

Readers, do you have any tips to add on how to survive a merger? Have you survived a merger or acquisition? What do you wish you’d known beforehand?

Stock photo via Stencil.

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