Owners and acquirers may be thrilled about a merger, but for staff and managers, it’s a potentially traumatic event. The generic term “integration” conceals the immense stress that underlies these tumultuous undertakings. You’ll have to adopt quickly, and you may worry about job security, since as many as a third of staff may be deemed redundant. Change may be inevitable, but chaos doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to make the most of the change.
Assess the situation
Take stock of what’s happening. Many mergers have almost no effect, especially if the two companies keep their operations separate. You need to understand what’s happening, so you can decide how to proceed.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
We all have them. Don’t just focus on the empty buzzwords you might see on a resume. Consider what you bring to the table, and where you might work a little harder to pick up the slack. Work on highlighting your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses if you intend to stay in your current job.
Assess Opportunities and Threats
Where could you land in the new entity, and how can you use your strengths to get there? Is there a clear path forward? Will the merger potentially create new opportunities? What about threats? Which areas might need to be reduced? Is the new company dominant in an area where you work? If so, reductions in your department are almost certainly inevitable. You may want to consider a transfer, or work quickly to align yourself with the new company or make yourself indispensable.
Seize Growth Possibilities
One of the easiest paths to advancement during M&A is to insert yourself in the process. At minimum, find a way to highlight your strengths. But if you can, make yourself indispensable to the merger itself, by sharing institutional knowledge, participating in the transition team, or helping the new entity realize anticipated synergies.
Execute an Effective Plan
Getting yourself on the integration team is just step one. You must craft a plan with actionable steps that actually works. You must also be able to distinguish busy work from the work that must get done. Measure results so you can prove that your plan works.’
M&A often brings in a whole new climate of innovation and creativity. People who previously could not see an opening for their ideas may finally find one. Don’t just throw a bunch of ideas at a brick wall. Think about which options are the most viable, then work on fleshing them out into a plan. Then, and only then, take them to your manager. Your manager should see that the plan is ready to go—not that you’re just assigning them more to do and think about.
Don’t treat your workplace or your job as a zero-sum game. Those who get ahead the fastest do it by collaborating with others. Forge meaningful relationships with your new colleagues, and find ways to bring everyone aboard the ship—not throw them over the edge.