Seven Ways To Survive A Merger

pic for survival

Many of us will experience a merger or acquisition during our careers. Some take place over a period of time while others seem to occur over night. Some are rolled out in a methodical way and others feel like a botched take-over. How we lead through them is key to how well we survive.

One helpful strategy is instead of looking at these events as devastating, we view these consolidations as an opportunity. In my Change workshops this week, facing a merger was center stage. The managers voiced their concerns:

“ I am so frustrated not knowing what is happening.”

“I wish I had the truth from senior leadership.”

“I don’t understand why we have to go through this process.”

“I can’t do anything about it, so I might as well just give in.”

Have you ever felt this way when you lived through a merger? Were you fearful of the unknown and how things would look after?

Let’s look at seven ways to survive a merger:

 1. Shift Your Thinking

As displayed by the comments by the managers in my workshop, a leader cannot even tackle feelings about a merger before changing the way they view it. To reset a negative and half-empty perspective, it is critical to think about the positive outcomes. There is always an upside to evaluate.

  • I may learn new processes and technology
  • I may add to my network of colleagues
  • I may like my new responsibilities even better
  • I may even like my new boss

2. Ask Questions and Get The Facts

During a merger, the greater the information flow the better. Organizations need to be transparent and honest. But information can get misinterpreted so it is essential to ask questions when things don’t make sense or seem illogical. Keep asking until you get your answers.

3. Meet With Your Boss

One way for leaders to be proactive in times of a merger is talk to their bosses. They may or may not have additional ideas, but they may be able to provide us with perspective and calmness.

4. Prepare For Several Options

Since we are never sure of the exact outcome or how it will affect us, preparing for different possibilities in our minds and actions can be empowering.

  • Talk to family members about a possible move and how they may feel about it
  • Think about other areas of the company you could also work
  • Meet with colleagues in other organizations and explore possible options
  • Make sure your resume is up to date for both internal and external interviewing

5. Embrace Bigger Picture and Time Perspective

Think in terms of your entire career. One merger is just a blip along our career path and with change being a constant, there will be many more blips along the way.


6. Never Lose Sight of Your Value

When we are in the middle of uncertainty, we sometimes forget to remind ourselves of our gifts and strengths. We each bring our own unique value to our team and company. Focus on the worthy skills and knowledge you bring to your job. No matter what happens it is not a reflection on how qualified you are and what a great contribution you make.

7. Remain Calm and Breathe

Things may get rocky but never forget to keep breathing and not over- react. When we stay calm, we are more likely to successfully navigate a merger.

How have you led through a merger? What techniques have proven helpful?

(photo credit-FlickrCC California National Guard)

6 thoughts on “Seven Ways To Survive A Merger

  1. Such an important topic, Terri! I especially appreciate how you encourage people to communicate 1) honestly, 2) transparently, and 3) often. Mergers and reorganizations are made more difficult when top level leaders fail to share information. Sometimes they don’t have all the information to share and they don’t want to appear incompetent…but their credulity is stretched even more when they don’t admit what they don’t know…

  2. You make great points,LaRae! Sometimes senior leadership is not sure of how everything will look so they share the information with mixed messages. This causes unnecessary anxiety for employees which could easily have been prevented if they thought through their thoughts and words more clearly.

    Thanks LaRae for adding your wonderful comments!

  3. Having worked at Verizon for 20 years, I’ve worked through many mergers, including being in thick of HR tranformation. You advice is spot on here. Staying positive and being part of the solution as the new company emerges is so important.

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