When Your Employer Is Acquired, 5 Steps To Protect Your Job
The run on banks and subsequent takeovers – e.g., Credit Suisse, Silicon Valley Bank – have captured the mass media attention. However, acquisitions happen regularly and across industries. A quick online search shows that just this month acquisitions were made in pharmaceuticals (Pfizer acquired Seagen) and tobacco (Altria acquired NJOY), among other industries.
These are billion-dollar transactions, so even if you’re working for a very large company, you might find the organizational structure and leadership has changed virtually overnight. This doesn’t necessarily mean your job is in jeopardy. However, a shock to the system potentially puts everyone’s job in jeopardy. If you want to stay, take these five steps to protect your job:
1 – Assess your redundancy risk
Review the company who has acquired your employer, and see if they have a department similar to yours and if there is someone doing a role similar to yours. You also want to look at who you’re supporting with your work because, if you’re serving a critical line of business, even if there are others who also do your job, they may not want to disrupt your area. If you have a unique department, job or client, that makes you less redundant and potentially improves your chances to stay. If you see that there is a lot of overlap between what you do or where you work and the new company, then it’s one signal to step up your search.
2 – Integrate yourself into the new leadership
Even if you have taken great care to stay visible with your boss and other senior leaders, there are new sheriffs in town, so you’ll have to restart your visibility campaign. For your key responsibilities and projects, figure out who the decision-makers are post-acquisition. If you work in a group that has little overlap with the new company, you might find that it’s the same people in charge of your immediate work. But if you get a new boss, or your boss gets a new boss, or the end-users for your work changes, then focus on getting 1:1 time with these new internal clients so that they know how valuable and productive you are.
3 – Align your work with the new priorities
You may have been working on a critical project before, but the new company may come in with different priorities. Pay attention to what the combined company says about their strategy going forward. Other signals include whether you continue to get resources for your work – e.g., budget, headcount, help from colleagues. If your responsibilities or current projects aren’t obviously part of the new company strategy, see if you can repackage what you do such that your boss and other senior leaders see a fit. Or see if you can get assigned to the new priorities.
4 – Explore lateral moves
If your department is redundant, your immediate leadership turns over and/or your work is misaligned with the new company direction, you may need to change departments or offices to another area that the company is invested in. Keep your eyes and ears open for what areas of the new company are growing. Review your company’s lateral move process so you have a sense for what you’ll need to do if you identify a lateral opportunity. Prioritize your connections with people outside your immediate area, so that you have a support system spread across the company.
5 – Step up your performance and positivity on-the-job
All of the above actions will take time. The repercussions from the acquisition will not all roll out simultaneously or immediately, so your research into lateral moves, new priorities, leadership changes and redundancies will play out over different timetables. It could be months before you have all the information you need to understand the impact of the acquisition on your job. In the meantime, keep doing your job to the best of your ability and attitude. As decision-makers look around to see who to keep or not, you want them to see your peak performance and positivity.
Have an exit plan ready – just in case
Even as you do the best you can to keep your job, you can’t fully control what decisions have already been made. Your role or department might be targeted well before you have time to take the preemptive steps above. To protect your overall career, and not just this job, shore up your exit plan as an alternative. Understand your severance rights in the event of a layoff, update your marketing so you can start a job search quickly, and rekindle your outside connections so you have a support system in place. You may not need any of these things, but at least you’ll have reconnected with long-lost contacts and you can use your marketing collateral for speaking engagements or other extra-curricular activities that build your brand.
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