My wife works at a giant company which recently announced they were going to merge with another giant company in order to create an ever gianter company with a handful of baby subsidiary spinoff companies that will each also be giant companies all by themselves. From the outside, it looks to me like a not-so-subtle attempt to rule the world by creating a company so big that every other company succumbs to despair and stop trying to produce things. I am already stockpiling cheddar-cheese-flavored potato chips in the event that actually happens.
For my wife, however, the situation is a bit different. The merger was announced months in advance and will take over a year to complete, but it has left everyone at her company a little uncertain as to what is going to happen. If you’ve ever been through a merger yourself, then you’ll know how people are responding – everybody is being cautious, playing it safe, and mildly or extremely reluctant to make any major decisions since any plans today could be made irrelevant as the full import of the merger becomes better understood. It has occasionally been a source of frustration for my wife, who is new to the company and began her career eager to start firing on all cylinders, and I’m sure she’s not the only one.
I’ll admit, I’ve never experienced a merger before, and so I can’t speak with a perfect understanding of what it’s really like or how you should handle one yourself. But I have spoken with dozens of people in dozens of different industries who have gone through the process, and here’s some of the advice and strategies they’ve shared with me:
Stay Focused On Your Sphere of Influence
You might not be able to control what happens on a company-wide scale, but you can control your own individual effort and the dynamics of your immediate team. Staying concentrated on the little picture while the big picture slowly resolves itself is an excellent way to keep from over-worrying.
Don’t Quit Pushing
People often huddle up during a merger, afraid to make any significant decisions in case conditions change drastically in the upcoming weeks or months. This tendency can completely kill the momentum of a project that may be equally or even more important once the merger churn has settled back down. If you keep working toward previously established goals while everyone else is sitting tight and waiting to see what happens, you’ll be in an excellent position to capitalize on your efforts. Besides, it’s not like you’ve never had a project get killed midstream without a merger to make it happen – which leads to the big point here…
Recognize That A Merger Is Merely Proof Of A Process That Has Been Happening Your Entire Career
People often look at mergers as massive changes that require a different set of behaviors, but the truth is that a merger is merely a very tangible example of the changes you’ve been experiencing your entire career. Chances are you’ve had multiple managers, each with a slightly different style and attitude; various projects, some which were successful while others weren’t; and a fair share of emergencies that have required you to do any number of unplanned-for things. Mergers often look scarier than they really are because the force you to acknowledge that things won’t ever be the same again. But then again, things have never been the same. If you recognize that your career has been a constant evolution, you’ll be as well-prepared for whatever is about to happen as you possibly can be.
Who knows? You might actually enjoy what’s coming. For example, my wife could one day become the official CEO and Overlord of the giantest company in the world. That would be cool. Then I’d be the Overlord Regent, or the First Overlord, or whatever you call the spouse of an Overlord. Whatever that word is, I’ll take it.