Recently, not just one, but two of my client companies work were acquired by other firms. And there’s just no way around it—if it’s your company, you get worried.
I hate thinking about you worrying about your career and as a result, worrying about your life. So, for the ones I love and those I’ll never meet whose companies are being acquired (now & in the future), here are three things I hope you try and pass along to others.
1. Remember you have immense value.
The acquisition rhetoric is always “oh, we love you just the way you are–that’s why we bought you.” But very soon afterwards, the acquiring company needs to attempt change.
It’s a human habit to try and put your mark on something new, even if it ain’t broke. Any new players in your space will soon have the very human need to add value to what you’re doing.
It’s during this time when you can feel devalued, judged, lacking.
And it’s never true.
Your strategy now is to expect that the requests will come, but to understand that those directives are not about you.
Fiercely protect your confidence and understanding of the value you bring, and why it’s important in your organization. And talk about it in ways that someone brand new to your world can grasp.
2. When faced with chaos or creativity, choose creativity.
“Managing Transitions” author and researcher Bill Bridges described the neutral zone as that place where you’re no longer what you were but not quite what you’re going to become. Post-acquisition, you’re in the neutral zone.
Kinda like puberty for organizations, only this is one we get to experience with every internal and external change.
But in that neutral zone, you’ve got two choices. Flail and worry and squawk and swirl. That’s chaos.
Or, you can just make it up. That’s creativity.
Transition is a great time to embrace your inner creative–the one that makes and breaks the rules rather than follow them. It’s a lot more fun than chaos, and a lot more productive, too.
3. Be the expert in what’s right for you.
Stop listening to all the noise about what you should do now and start listening to the most important person of all: You.
What do YOU want next in your career? When you slow down a minute, what are you hearing your own voice say?
I call this “listening to the whispers,” and it’s the first stage in the Career Decision Lifecycle –the predictable process that all successful career decisions follow, even the decisions to stay put.
Catalysts like an acquisition are a good time to ask yourself what you really want, and to double check that you’re on a path to get there, no matter what happens in the outside world.
So, I’m sending peace to the acquired and the acquiring both. No matter what you do and how you do it, know that we need you and your superpowers in our world of work.
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