Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What do you do if your employer is in news for takeover or M&A?

We wake up to news and rumors of mega-mergers almost every day; and in many cases, it is just news that we comment or exclaim about before going on with our jobs in the corporate world. I am not going to try to link to the ‘big’ M&A news since that is bound to be old-news by the time this is published. J Occasionally, however, such ‘news’ or rumor may hit closer home, especially if one happens to be working for a company that is an acquisition target, or has announced a merger with another (similar sized) company.

Jobs, roles and employees are bound to be impacted by any M&A. If the corporations are to realize the benefits of a merger or acquisition, they will have to “consolidate operations” and “streamline redundancies” and get rid of duplicate operations, processes and systems. People are an integral part of the equation, but the decisions, even those impacting jobs and careers can be very impersonal. The impersonal nature of corporate decisions has been captured in endless movies and documentaries (my favorite is “Up in the Air” featuring George Clooney as the corporate "Downsizer").

Although people are just ‘resources’ in the context of corporate planning and M&A, impact to individuals can be very personal. Therefore, the smallest news or rumor of an M&A can, and generally will be discussed in “informal” communication network between employees, contractors and others in communities impacted by the companies in question. Thanks to ubiquitous access to social media – blogs, tweets, discussion forums on Linkedin and Facebook - such informal communication may also get amplified, making it harder to sift through fact against rumor or gossip.
All this happens while the merging companies’ own “corporate communications” groups continue to work overtime trying to manage and ‘control’ communications.

What is at play is obvious: individuals seeking answers to a simple question “how will this impact me?” Employees and contractors may begin wondering if, when, and how their jobs will be impacted.
The answers to this question may not be obvious. In fact, will certainly not get answered till a deal is inked, decisions on the implementation of the ‘strategy’ are taken, and the process to execute on it set in motion. So, what should individuals (you and I) do while the wheels of corporate change continue to churn in the background?

Prepare to embrace change: when it comes
  • Prepare for a slow pace of fast change. Initial planning of a merger or announcement may appear to be in slow-motion (and happen in background) but will probably be executed fast.
  • Be prepared with your personal what-if analysis. No point in being caught like a deer in front of a headlight. A while ago, I was musing on Free Agents in the corporate world. I wonder if wearing a free-agent hat in our corporate careers may help soften the blow if we are impacted.
Try to avoid contributions to the rumor mill
  • There is enough speculation out in the social media. There may be wisdom in keeping your views to yourself
Minimize conversations on “Scenario planning” and “What if analysis” with peers …. unless this is expected of your role
  • Most of us are better off leaving experts (and external stock market speculators / investors) to do the “what if” analysis of M&A rumors
Bottomline: don’t worry about continually sifting through M&A rumor in an attempt to find nuggets of reality. Newswire reports and ‘news’ is increasingly mixed with rumors, headline grabbing and “quoting some unknown executives,” especially when it comes to M&A. Deals may or may not get inked, and even speculators in the stockmarket may not have the complete picture till a deal is announced and signed.

(cross post from my Linkedin Pulse post)