10 Steps for Career Management after a Merger or Acquisition

Your firm has been acquired/merged with another firm. How do you weather the inevitable wave of change that will sweep through your world? How do you ensure that you don’t get lost in the integration frenzy so typical when two cultures converge?  And of most importance, how do you share in the “promise” of the deal in terms of personal career and financial advancement?

These won’t all be equally applicable to all readers, but if you can execute 5 or better these steps, you can heighten your chances for survival or even “thrival”.

  1. Listen carefully to the expectations that are being set on “the street” regarding the deal.

What key product, customer, and geographic assumptions are being made and what are the anticipated milestones regarding growth and profitability. This can provide a very clear set of road-signs regarding the plans and priorities of top management.

It’s your job to figure out how to position yourself to add value in achieving these priorities. Construct your own “top 10” list of probable operating imperatives and get in the game of achieving them.

  1. Hook yourself into a transition team.

Being part of a cross-organizational or cross-discipline team charged with carrying out the integration plan can at least buy you time, and of more importance can provide you with an insider’s information stream.

  1. Hook yourself into a valuable customer.

There is no greater safety net than a solid client relationship that generates revenue. If you are not in marketing or sales, get on a key account support team.

  1. Develop your own “pro-forma” product rationalization.

If you align yourself with a dead-ended product, you can guess the outcome. Based on the new strategy, see where the action is going to be, and follow the heat.

  1. Assess potential “power vacuums” above you.

With a merger, many in senior management will cash out or fade away. See where the gaps will be, assess functional criticality to the new mission, and position yourself to be a logical fit for a senior executive or their replacement.

  1. Critically assess your own “career equity”.

Determine how others view you.  This is almost like running your own credit report before you apply for a bank loan – for-warned is for-armed. Do a mini “360-degree” feedback process. Know your strengths and weaknesses to better understand objections to your moving ahead in the new organization.

Strengthen your historical constituencies, especially where they appear to be on the winning team. Talk to those in management from your firm that appear to have made it to “keeper” status in the new organization.  Seek out what they think your “highest and best use” could be in the unfolding strategy.

  1. Create an internal personal marketing document that is rich in the delineation of your accomplishments and value going forward.

Be prepared to resell yourself within the organization. This is a new game, with new coaches; make sure they don’t pigeonhole you on the basis of old scouting reports.

  1. Tirelessly network.

Don’t wait to be invited to the party. Take on important tasks that might slip through the cracks, and don’t be afraid to get “drive-by” face time with the new management players. Work with administrative staff that can give you a heads-up about important meetings etc., — get yourself invited.

  1. Reach out to new colleagues.

Put a “leg over the fence” and learn about the key factors in the other company’s culture. What are the “rules of the tavern” regarding successful navigation? What behavior is looked down upon, or more particularly could be a career-ender?

  1. Adopt a creative, tolerant, patient, and supportive attitude.

There will be ample opportunities to “grouse” around the water cooler about how things have changed from the “good old days” — avoid them. Expect mistakes to be made and develop a tolerance for them.  Remember, you will be perceived, in large part by how you think and express yourself.

Senior management already has “skin in the game” and you need to help others around you feel that the glass is “half full” and not “half empty”.

Be an “opportunity thinker” – looking for ways that you can help attain the objectives of the deal.  Keeping your integrity, also offer constructive criticism on how things could go better.

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AcquisitionWorks, Inc. is a Boston based management consulting firm that specializes in supporting management teams, boards of directors, and investors in “delivering on the promise” of mergers and acquisitions.

AcquisitionWorks utilizes expertise and proprietary processes to assist clients in fielding the optimal slate of talent, organized to effectively meet customer requirements. With expertise in marketing, sales, human resources, organizational development, as well as finance, and general management, Principals are able to bring a rich set of resources to bear across a variety of disciplines.