It’s happened to me again. The medium-sized company that I work for was recently acquired by a behemoth company that’s ranked in the top five of the Fortune 500 list. It seems that every time I go to work for a small to medium-sized company, I eventually go through an acquisition. In May 2017 there were 833 mergers and acquisition announcements in the U.S. alone, according to FactSet.com.
Yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today shared five tips for managing and surviving a company acquisition. Today, we’ll share five more from Juliette Hirt, former general counsel for Ebrary, until a recent acquisition by ProQuest, where she now serves as senior corporate counsel.
1. Integrate from afar. Often, the acquiring company is based in a different city or even a different country. Explore whether you will be expected to move to the parent company’s location, or if you have the option of working remotely. Integrating into a cohesive department will be considerably harder if a critical mass of the department is in the same office, and you are located elsewhere. To integrate effectively from afar, make a concerted effort to spend time with the rest of the department, developing the relationships that will make your new role more effective and enjoyable.
2. Pace yourself. A key first step in an acquisition is business as usual. There is a reason why your company was acquired, so stay focused on what you do best, as least initially. It’s too early to speculate how your job might change, so focus instead on doing your current job to the best of your ability. Also, note that you are now in a more complex corporate environment where more people and departments must be looped in to decision-making and execution plans. So be inclusive, and realize that some tasks may take longer than they used to simply because there are more people involved. Getting your bearings in the new company and identifying which new endeavors can best benefit you and your client can take a certain amount of time. So, while stepping up to needed work, do not be overly hasty in committing to new projects until you know how to navigate the new organization.
3. Attend to culture. I had a friend who worked for an airline that merged with another airline. The difficulty of the transition wasn’t in the actual workload, it was in dealing with the employees of the acquiring company. The corporate cultures were very different and there was an antagonistic attitude that made it difficult for the merging teams to effectively communicate with each other, much less work together.
Culture is reflected in the tone of communications. Observe the communications style of the new company. If it requires a more formal style, then adopt to this style and demonstrate professional respect for your new co-workers.
4. Re-commit to your values. Regardless of the changes ahead, stand by your personal and professional values. The parent company may have different policies and different approaches that you must adjust to. But when policies and procedures are in flux, firm adherence to core values can help you avoid mistakes. And it should go without saying that if you find that your new employer does not share your ethical commitments and core values, you may want to begin looking for another job.
5. Find the wellsprings. In a large company, it will not be possible to know everyone, or to have your finger on the pulse of all the relevant systems and sources of information. Be proactive in identifying those people and places that will serve as your best sources of information, ideas and decisions. In each department you’ll need to interact with, identify someone who is both helpful and accessible, and also empowered to make decisions, or able to access the decision makers.
PCT returns to your in box on Monday with more advice for your business and professional life.
Source: Juliette Hirt, until recently the general Counsel of Ebrary, is currently ProQuest’s senior corporate counsel at Ebrary. ProQuest connects people with vetted, reliable information through online information resources and discovery technologies.