Q: Help! My company was purchased and everything is changing. I have done a good job, but now I’m worried about whether or not that will be recognized. Our email and phone systems are changing – there’s so much to learn on top of doing my work. How can I prioritize? With new hires and restructuring the organization, how do I know where to get answers and decisions?
A: In the era of mergers and acquisitions, more people will be working for multiple employers without changing seats. Your former and current employers may do a good job at the integration, or they may not. It’s not an easy task. Companies who have done many acquisitions typically have a well-defined game plan of actions, stages, and communication strategies to change brand, explain values and working assumptions, and make the message clear that change is in place. Some people find that aggressive and annoying, yet they have found it works as the initial step to integration. Other firms take a very slow approach to integration and try not to rock the currently-performing boat.
Acknowledge the fact that your company was in fact purchased. Often people want to talk about a merger; they don’t want to acknowledge that another organization is now in charge. You are now part of the other organization. You report to them. You will be learning about their processes, their values, their culture, and everything about them that makes them successful. This is usually the most difficult acknowledgement for people to have when their company has been purchased, and if you can adjust to that quickly, it will be noticed and welcome by your new managers.
Understand that there are multiple reasons they purchased you; they value your organization. Consider what those reasons may be and how you fit into their long-term strategic plan. Try to understand the components of your organization that they think have high value. This is something you want to keep in the back of your mind as people often grow suspicious about the motivations of the purchaser.
Anticipate that they’ll want you to do things their way. Hopefully they’ll be asking a lot of questions about how you do things so that they can learn from some of your accomplishments, and they may absorb that into their organization. This is not the time to lay a turf war. They have already purchased your company, and it won’t support your long-term success in the organization.
You’re right, everything is changing. Your phone system is changing, your email system is changing. There is a lot to learn, including new policies and procedures. What you should take great confidence in knowing is that you did a good job and the new owners will be able to recognize that. Typically, they have talked to the former – and perhaps continuing – leadership and identified who the strong performers are, as well as which employees may need some development in order to get to where they need to be.
Often people are not happy about being purchased and they demonstrate that, which is not where you want to put yourself. Integrations are challenging for everyone in the purchasing organization and the organization who was purchased. People can either invest their energy in making the transition more effective and less stressful and painful for both sides of the equation, or they can contribute negativity and aggravation. If you were the acquirer, who would you want to keep at your organization? Which behaviors would you want to reward, and which would you move out of a role with influence?
With all of this, your desire to prioritize and to know from who and where to get your answers and decisions are all going to be challenged. The easiest way to address these is to stay very close to your manager, who will typically be dealing with the same kinds of issues. And if you can remember to approach all of this with a very positive and supportive energy, you will look much more positive in the eyes of the new management.