Moonwalk into Your Merger
by Bob Rosner
If you want to survive a merger, take a tip from Karen Hartley. Hartley isn't an expert in corporate mergers; she's a skier who got lost outside a ski resort in Utah.
Night fell, and so did the temperature, and Hartley knew that if she didn't keep moving she'd die. So to stay warm, she literally danced the night away: disco songs, show tunes, Christmas songs, even old camp songs. She gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "boogie nights."
Well, if your company goes through a merger, the possibility is all too real that you could get frozen out of your job. So, if you want to survive, you've got to put on your dancing shoes, too.
For merger survival tips I turned to Jeffrey Caponigro's book, The Crisis Counselor. (Caponigro focuses primarily on handling a corporate crisis, but if losing your job isn't a crisis, I don't know what is.) I've adapted the following tips:
The best way to survive a merger is to anticipate it. Of course, the last thing most people want to do in their free time is to read about their company in financial or trade publications, but doing so may help you see the warning signs that your company is "in play."
Help make your department less vulnerable. After a merger, companies generally eliminate duplication. The newly merged company doesn't need two accounting departments or two marketing departments, for example. So look realistically at what your department offers that the other company's doesn't. Then make a case for your department's longevity by documenting how it will make or save money for the combined company.
Even if your department is headed for the deep-freeze, chances are there are other departments that will thrive in the newly merged company. Read as much as you can about the merger; talk to everyone you know in both companies. Find the departments that are sure to survive and talk to their managers about a transfer. There is no such thing as having too many contacts during a merger.
I've heard from many people who survived a merger only to end up in a better job! But to do so they had to be flexible. They had to rethink their skills, their job descriptions, and their notions about what they like in a boss and a corporate culture.
A lot of fast dancing kept Karen alive through a frozen night. If you make the right moves, you just may find that you can waltz into an exciting new job opportunity.
Bob Rosner is the author of Working Wounded: Advice That Adds Insight to Injury. Check out his website at WorkingWounded.com. He's a speaker and a regular contributor to myprimetime.com.
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