Meet The New Boss: Navigating A Corporate Merger

The corporate landscape is shrinking all the time. Blockbuster acquisitions and mergers (or near mergers) can create all kinds of stress and anxiety for executives. They worry about the years of work they’ve put in. They worry about how they’ll be recognized and rewarded in a new ecosystem.

I’ve had mergers on my mind recently due to the recent deal between Dell and EMC. (Full disclosure: I spent much of my previous life as an HR executive working for Dell.) That merger, and the possibility of others like it, has prompted friends and clients to ask me all sorts of questions about what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Some are worried about their jobs, others about integrating into a new team, and others about their legacy. Mergers create uncertainty, and if there’s one thing successful people don’t like, it’s uncertainty – especially when so many things are out of their control.

That said, uncertainty doesn’t have to be bad. Uncertainty is an opportunity. An opportunity to shine in a new role, expand your network or even make that major professional leap you’ve been dreaming of but never had the courage to take. So, if you’ve got merger anxiety, take a deep breath and follow these steps – hopefully they’ll help you feel like you’re on steadier footing.

Don’t Panic

This is an easy one to say, but a hard one to do. When you’re facing down a merger, you always want to keep a cool head – not just for yourself, but for your peers and the people that look up to you. Talk to people in the know and try to get a firmer grasp on what’s coming ahead. The cooler your head is, the better equipped you’ll be to handle change.

Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

This step is as much for your own edification as it is preparing for the unknown. Taking some time to reflect on and write down your accomplishments does wonders for your self esteem. You’ll also be better prepared to demonstrate your value to new peers and bosses – or potential new employers if you decide you want to do something new.

Continue to Excel

Don’t fall into the temptation to slow down just because change is coming. There’s no room for paralysis at a changing company. Continue working hard and doing your best – your hard work will be noticed by someone – be they new peers or bosses or someone in a position to give you a new opportunity.

Take Care Of Yourself

Stress can cause us to adopt all kinds of bad habits – poor eating, irregular sleep, lack of exercise. Not only will those behaviors make you feel bad physically, they’ll also impact your ability to perform at a high level. Fight off stress by taking the time to do the things you enjoy. Stay active, read, spend time with your family. It’ll keep you sharp and serve as a good reminder that work is important, but it’s not the only important thing in your life.

Encourage The People Around You

Stress and anxiety can spread quickly when change is coming. Do your best to serve as a source of hope and comfort for your co-workers. Encourage them to continue working hard, express your appreciation for what they do, and be an open listener for their concerns. Being a beacon of positivity in the workplace will do wonders for yourself and the people around you.

Look For Opportunities To Grow

Once the acquisition or merger is official and you have a new pack of personalities, leadership styles and egos to navigate, seek out opportunities to mold your new work environment into one that you like. The best way to find a comfortable niche is to carve one out for yourself. Make suggestions, volunteer for new tasks and take on new responsibilities. You’ll make yourself indispensable and start building a space for yourself in the company where you can thrive on your own terms.