Ten Steps To Consider When Your Company Is Acquired, Part 1 - June 29, 2017

It's happened again. Another headline acquisition. Internet retail giant Amazon recently announced the acquisition of Whole Foods Market, an organic-focused grocery chain with strong regional and communal roots.

For the outsider, this acquisition appears to be a clash of cultures: an internet distribution giant that focuses on product volume and movement and the regionally grown grocer that is focused on quality and customer loyalty. By all accounts, it appears this merger will drive down grocery prices and forever change the grocery industry.

Acquisitions are also happening with regularity in the promotional products industry, although the outcome usually causes far less concern than the recent activity between the online and retail giants.

Even so, if your company is acquired or acquires another company, you want to be prepared for the transition and what changes or opportunities it may bring. Today and tomorrow, Promotional Consultant Today shares this advice from Juliette Hirt, former general counsel for Ebrary, until a recent acquisition by ProQuest, for which she now serves as senior corporate counsel.

1. Keep your eyes open. Most jobs stay intact initially during an acquisition. It can often take a year to 18 months for companies to determine where there is overlap and if positions need to be eliminated. So, go into the transition with your eyes wide open. Stay dedicated to your role, but keep in mind that the acquiring company may or may continue your role there. Proceed optimistically, but not naively, and keep your eye on other opportunities.

2. Assess your career direction. Look at this time as an opportunity to evaluate your own career goals. What do you want to achieve, and are you on a path to achieving it? Which aspects of your current job have you enjoyed, and what drags you down? You'll be better positioned to influence the ultimate contours of your new job if you've achieved internal clarity about your own goals. And, by understanding this clarity, you might just spot the perfect new job in the new organization.

3. Acknowledge what you've lost. Acquisitions come with a lot of emotion. This emotion often comes from dealing with change—or not dealing with the change. The first step is to recognize there is some form of loss. The organization will likely be different in the future. Some teammates may no longer be there. By acknowledging this, you prepare mentally to move forward through the transition and open yourself up to new opportunities as part of the transition. Whatever your personal situation, things will be lost as well as gained in the transition. Take the time to consciously reflect on the losses so you will be better able to let go and move on if needed.

4. Learn about opportunities to grow in the new company. There may be multiple opportunities in an acquiring company, including some you may not be aware of yet. The company may also have more formally-structured processes for career development and advancement. It may also have other programs to help you meet your objectives such as better benefits or tuition assistance. Dive into your new organization and learn about the opportunities that can help you grow.

5. Take advantage of specialization. Small to medium-sized organizations—those that tend to be acquired—often have more generalist roles. You may be a marketing director that also helps with sales, for example. Larger organizations bring more specific roles and more focus. Take advantage of the transitional period to identify the specialties where you have the greatest experience, as well as those you may be interested in exploring. Spend time learning about the specialties needed in the new organization and align yourself as an expert or specialist in a specific area that fits the organization's needs.

Ready for more acquisition tips? Read PCT again tomorrow.

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.

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