What to Do If the Company You Work For Is Acquired

View it as an opportunity and prepare for some degree of change.

Written by Vanessa Gennarelli
Published on Oct. 12, 2023
What to Do If the Company You Work For Is Acquired
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A company acquisition is perhaps one of the biggest changes employees and employers have to navigate in the tech world. They can get messy and they are undoubtedly scary for anyone on an affected team. But how an employee handles this moment can either spell success or failure. How company leaders handle it can be a defining moment as well. 

4 Things to Expect When Your Company Changes Hands

  1. Your job might change.
  2. Your job might disappear.
  3. New leadership will have new goals for the company. 
  4. The transition will be difficult for staff and management.

A company acquisition is not just a shakeup. It’s a massive opportunity. This time of wide-reaching change can bring with it a certain plasticity and elasticity in the organizational chart, product direction and operating model of any company. It’s a moment of transformation that can propel your career or reinvigorate your business. 

Here’s how both employees and employers can prepare for and embrace the opportunities that come with such a transformation.

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Employees: Use This Opportunity

If you work at a company that’s been acquired, approach the situation with an open mind. There will inevitably be an information vacuum during the early stages of the acquisition. Things might slow down, priorities will be unclear for a minute and everyone will feel like they are being left in the dark. 

This information vacuum is your chance to accept, analyze and infer. Let’s break down what this looks like.

  • Accept that change is happening. Your company will change and likely so will your role. Accepting this is the first step toward embracing this transformation. Spend some time celebrating your experience with the company that’s being acquired. Recognize the contributions you’ve made and the memories you’ve built. You played a role in getting the company to this new, exciting chapter. But also be sure to take time to grieve your former work environment. It’s okay to feel a loss. 
  • Analyze why your company was acquired. Dig deep into the acquiring company’s motivations. Are they interested in your company’s product because it complements their suite? Or are they eyeing a specific customer base or market segment? Perhaps it’s about addressing competition or reducing risk. The motivation will give you a window into certain opportunities you may be able to tap  and possibly how you can use your strengths in this new world. 
  • Infer what the future might hold. Once you have a grasp of the acquiring company’s goals, it’s time to infer what might happen next. What will the new company’s top-level goals be? What aspects of your current role or product are likely to grow? Expect potential investment in your product, a shift in your customer base or portfolio expansion. Look for patterns and who you might want to partner with. Finally, be prepared for any additional compliance requirements that may arise as part of the strategic effort. 
  • Expect some organizational shifts, including changes in personnel. New leadership will have a vision for how the company can become more efficient or how to pursue their desired strategy. That usually means some reduction in force — Harvard Business Review reports that around 30 percent of employees often lose their jobs after a merger or acquisition.

Take some time to truly assess how the goals of the acquisition, and therefore likely future direction of your team and company, align with your goals. 

What do you really want out of your career? And is the probable future in front of you a fit for that? Ultimately, just ask yourself if you want to make a step forward with the next iteration of the company. There will be more structure and more support, and also more friction as priorities firm up. Get clear on what you want and put a plan in action to make it happen. 

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Employers: Be Transparent. Expect Challenges.

For employers, the responsibility is equally significant. Preparing for an acquisition involves strategizing and ensuring a smooth transition for your employees. Don’t underestimate how difficult change can be. Everyone on your team may respond to this change differently. But it will likely be hard on some level for everyone. So communication and transparency are key. 

Keep your employees informed throughout the process. Address their concerns and provide them with the resources they need to adapt. Consider offering career development opportunities to employees who may be affected by the changes. This helps them align their goals with the company’s direction and retains valuable talent within the organization. Your success as a newly acquired entity very much depends on your ability to make this as smooth of a transition as possible. 

A company acquisition is a pivotal moment that can define your future. It’s a chance to adapt, grow and find new opportunities, as are many of the changes I discuss in my new book. The question is, will you seize this moment to shape your own success story? Or will you let it reshape you?

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