Company mergers are almost always announced with lots of fanfare, and with optimistic, upbeat statements from the Chief Executives.
"This merger," they usually say, "is an exciting development that will allow us to create more value for all our stakeholders." The markets are often impressed. Staff at the merged organizations, however, may need more convincing.
A successful merger is like putting high-performance tires on your car: the combination is greater than the sum of the parts, and the two organizations can achieve things together that they couldn't do separately. However, all too often, mergers are more like what happens when you put diesel fuel in your gasoline car: you spend all your time trying to fix the problems caused by forcing together two things that don't really belong with one another.
As companies seek out more and more efficient operating models, merging talent and resources becomes attractive. As such, you'll likely experience a merger at some point in your career. And while top executives are dealing with the strategic and structural issues of a merger, what can you do to ensure that you not only survive the experience, but thrive as a result of the change?
When two organizations merge, staff members from the original companies are typically left wondering who will stay, who will go, and what will the structure of the new organization be?
The problem is, some of the talent and resources are often deemed redundant in the new structure. Few positions are really safe: After all, you only need so many accountants, administrative support personnel and executives to run a company!
When faced with a merger, your challenge is to figure out your best means of survival. You can do one of two things. Either you find a way to stay, or you exit graciously.
The best survival strategy is one that keeps both options open. That way, as the merger begins to take shape, you have some control over what happens. Whenever you can exercise control, you reduce your stress levels. This leaves you with sufficient emotional resources to manage your situation with confidence.
Confidence is key to your survival when you are faced with a merger. To build the confidence you need, you'll need to develop a merger survival plan. Here, we'll show you a four-pronged approach to mergers. This will help you do what you need to do to emerge happy and satisfied, once the dust settles and the winds of change have blown through.
The four-part plan consists of:
Completing a merger doesn't happen overnight. All mergers have a transition process, so you should have time to prepare, and focus your energies so that you have the best chance of survival.
Remember, a merger is simply a specific type of change. All of the nuances of adjusting to change apply in a merger situation as well. If you understand the process that a person typically goes through when adjusting to change, you can put your emotions and actions in the right context. For a detailed discussion of the dynamics of change, see the Mind Tools article on the Change Curve .
The first step in any survival plan is to have an exit route. You need this for two reasons. If you are laid off as a consequence of the merger, you need a plan to secure other employment. If you survive the merger, only to find out that working for the newly formed company is not for you, again, you need to find a new job.
Unless you get an offer you just can't refuse, don't quit right away. Often, merger-induced layoffs come with substantial severance packages and extended benefits. Make sure you don't short-change yourself by reacting too quickly.
The main purpose of the contingency plan is to help you focus on something positive. Developing the plan helps you regain a sense of control. Change induces stress. The more ways you can find to assert control, the better you will be able to manage the emotions you are feeling during a merger.
Surviving at work has a lot to do with the strength of your relationships with your teammates. This is never so important as when you are suddenly faced with many new teammates who you need to figure out.
The relationships you build with the new people in this newly merged company are significant to your survival. Demonstrate your ability to get along with all types of people in all types of situations. This will give you a distinct advantage over people who let their differences and personal grievances get in the way of their work.
Ultimately, much of the decision on whether you stay or go comes down to how much value you can provide to the newly formed company (although some is down to plain luck.) If there are too many shipping clerks, who gets let go? It might be the clerk who can't seem to get along with any of the new people, or the clerk who contributes the least, or has the poorest attitude. This is why relationship building is so important, and why maintaining a good attitude is also important.
Throughout the merger process, your attitude toward the change will speak volumes about your suitability for, and relevance to, the new organization. If you resist change, you only succeed in showing people how ill prepared you are to handle the dynamics of modern work life. Become an advocate of change and inspire others to follow, and you'll be seen for your leadership ability and potential.
There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction. – Winston Churchill
During a merger, you have the ability to decide the direction your career will take. When you decide to take control and not allow change to dictate what happens, the whole transition process is put into the right perspective.
What you do before, during, and after the merger determines how you emerge and how satisfied you are with the results. Prepare a contingency plan and take positive steps to improve the value and impact you have on the newly formed company. Your positive attitude and energy will get noticed and you'll be able to manage your stress levels. As a result, you'll shine and make decisions for your career with a clear head and good sense of where you are heading.
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