Dealing with Acquisitions

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,
I am a Payroll Manager at my company, and I just got word that we are being acquired by a larger firm. I’m scared I’m going to lose my job! Any recommendations?

Dear, “Scared Supervisor,”

I know this feeling. At first, you can’t believe your ears… and you’re not even sure what it means to be on the receiving end of such news. Then it sinks in that this “larger firm” likely comes with a complete staff (including a Payroll Manager) and a new set of policies and procedures. After you’ve digested the fact that the working world, as you know it, is about to change, you start witnessing a series of closed-door meetings throughout the office and realize terminations are about to be made. Now, try not to panic. As some say, “everything happens for a reason.” There’s also the old cliché that “with every challenge comes new opportunities.” To cut to the chase, my advice is this:

  1. Maintain open communication – As a manager, you have a responsibility to your direct reports. Trust me, your staff is feeling equally unsure and uneasy about what’s going on. The best thing you can do for them (and for yourself) is to stay on top of any and all announcements and information regarding the acquisition and keep all lines of communication open. Ask HR or your Executive Team to post Frequently Asked Questions – or hold regular meetings that explain what is happening and what to expect.
  2. Be open to change. Remain Flexible – There’s no doubt about it… things are about to change. But who knows, it’s probably for the best (not only for your company overall, but for you personally). On the one hand, this may be your chance to explore a new industry or pursue that dream job you’ve never had the guts to go after (because you’ve felt “safe” in your current position). On the other hand, you may be jumping to conclusions thinking you need to find a new job. An acquisition does not necessarily mean you’re going to be replaced or eliminated. In fact, it often means that the two companies will merge the “best of the best” together to form an even stronger team. You, as the manager, may be advanced to an even bigger and better role… which leads me to my next point…
  3. Make sure you and your team are A-Players – This is your chance to shine. Button up your department procedures, show value, and be your best. Now, quite frankly, if you’re a good manager, it shouldn’t take the threat of an acquisition to kick your team into gear… but now is a good time to get cracking if you haven’t done so already.
  4. Avoid the negativity – It’s not uncommon to hear the gossip in the hall or the grumblings of employees who express their dislike of the “new” company, but don’t fall into that negativity… I warn you, it can be infectious. Not to say you have to be a Pollyanna, but you want to do your best to instill a positive attitude for your team.
  5. Be prepared – Whether you end up staying with the company or not, you should be prepared and cover all bases. Dig out your résumé and make sure it’s updated (just in case), be open to new responsibilities within your existing company – your skill set may be better suited for another group or department within. Be open to change and go with the flow.

One way or another, the dust will settle, and the new structure will be clear. Business can be like a rollercoaster at times. I suppose that’s what keeps things progressive and interesting… and it keeps us on our toes!

Good luck to you and your team!

For those of you who have experienced either end of an acquisition, please share your story here!

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. m.capriola
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:03:53

    RE: background checks.

    Depending on the state, you may be able to get items cleared from your CORI if they’re older than X-number of years. In some states in may be 7 years, but this will vary from state-to-state.

    Misdeamenors might have a shorter shelf life. Check the regulations in your home state. Various employment training and placement centers can probably help you with that.


  2. m.capriola
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 12:29:38

    Sometimes a firm will buy up a smaller one and leave it in place if it performs a function that the larger one does not. If your company is not being relocated or eliminated, they might still need on-site staff to handle payroll and such. Sometimes it’s more cost efficient to run payroll out of a central office, and sometimes it’s not. The company I currently work part-time for here in Boston has its own payroll and HR departments that are accountable to the central HQ in Buffalo.


  3. Ron Shada
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 08:08:46

    Most background checks go back 7 years depending on the state you live in. I do not know how long it has been since your conviction, but if it was 7 years or longer, and your state is one that uses those guidelines you may be in luck.


  4. Jody Seavy
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 17:05:34

    I worked for a local firm that was purchased by a large corporation. We all kept our jobs, but after the economy tanked, layoffs started hitting every quarter. More than half of the original employees have now left on their own terms or gotten laid off. This could go either way, so stay positive.


  5. Carol McClellan
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 22:43:41

    That happened to me. A big company bought us and then moved it to Indiana.


  6. Juan Montgomery
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 13:29:48

    There is always a bright light at the end of the tunnel.IK only as good as a person with the kind helping heart that u have that everyyhing works out and you come up smelling like roses!


  7. Brenda Adams
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 10:03:04

    I would tell her to start looking for a new job NOW.


  8. aselden12
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 08:36:25

    I know the feeling. This has happenned to me twice. I found the change worked better. I worked for a new company that was better as a team and my pay was increased. So, sometimes things happen for the best!


  9. jodinesplace
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 08:22:05

    I went through this, I prepared to move on. I tried to stay and go through the changes, but I found myself temporarly employed, being laid off and called back every 2 weeks. I got out of there I needed job stability.


  10. Miriam
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 08:21:09

    I had a work related injury which ended in surgery and theraphy last year. Now i want to work but a background (misdeamenor) has me unemployed and not able to apply for work. Every job application has been denied. Is a policy most agecies have within hiring new applicants. My bills are pilling up and no doors seems to offer job for past backgrounds. Whay can i do? Desesperate


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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