How to prepare for a merger or acquisition at work

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Posting date: 28/11/2018

When you first start catching terms like ‘merger’, ‘acquisition’ or ‘company restructure’ flying around the office, you’re only human if your initial emotions are those of unease and panic. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are no stranger to life science companies, many of which undergo anything from major to minor transformations every year.

Mergers and acquisitions mark periods of great uncertainty and you can be left feeling helpless in the face of what lies ahead. How will my role change? Will I work for a different department? Or scariest of all - could I face redundancy?

While some things are inevitably out of your control, you can influence the outcome in ways that ensure you’re prepared for every eventuality. ProClinical’s view is that you should condition yourself to embrace change in whatever form it appears. Simply follow the three P’s:

Be proactive

You may be tempted to bury your head in the sand and wait for the storm to blow over. However, this approach won’t help when you’re forced to confront the changes happening in your adapting workplace. Instead, get ahead of the game. Start by assessing your current situation. An article by Harvard Business Review suggests using the SWOT analysis to guide you:

Strengths: What is my current contribution? Do I have any specialist skills or experience that gives me an advantage?

Weaknesses: Is anything standing in my way? Lack of support from my manager or HR? A gap in my skills? Am I feeling anxious?

Opportunities: Could this change actually help my career? Will there be more opportunities, bigger teams, more resources and collaboration? Could I leverage the company’s new position in the industry?

Threats: What’s the likelihood of redundancy? Do I want to work in the new environment - will there be a culture clash?

Be prepared

Now that you know where you stand, it’s time to make a plan - but remember to remain resilient and flexible as you can't predict exact outcomes. For example, it’s natural to prepare for the chance of redundancy but make sure you also have a plan to help you thrive if you stay!

Much of what needs to be done can be drawn from your SWOT analysis. Is your best chance to make yourself as irreplaceable as possible? Your goal could be to approach management or HR and ask to be directly involved in the process. It could be to sharpen up your CV, reconnect with networks or engage with your recruitment partner again - just in case!

Be positive

Whatever your plan moving forward, try to approach it with a positive mental attitude. Without a positive look you’re in danger of losing productivity or falling into the trap of your own emotions and fears about change - putting additional barriers in your way.

This won’t be easy as you’ll be fighting very natural reactions to uncertainty, including feelings of anxiety, selfishness (like wanting to focus on looking out for yourself) and even grief at the idea of being separated from colleagues you like or saying goodbye to the brand and company culture. However, while you can’t stop yourself feeling like this, allowing them to influence your performance at work as these changes happen can stop you from potentially benefiting from the new situation.

Instead, focus on the Opportunities you identified in your SWOT analysis. Make notes on how you can collaborate with the new employees/departments to improve business outcomes, or how the added support and resources can aid innovation. Being part of a bigger company can further your career by enabling you to learn new skills and exposing you to different processes and perspectives.

Whether or not you think the new company culture is a good fit for you, you’ll never know unless you to immerse yourself in it! Avoid creating an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality, which can only stunt your growth and development if you’re unwilling to embrace change.

ProClinical is a leading life science recruitment agency that operates globally working with a number of leading pharma, biotech, med device/health tech companies and CROs. If you're exploring new opportunities as a result of changes at your workplace, get in touch with one of our specialist recruiters - they're happy to give you advice and discuss options going forward to give you peace of mind. Upload your CV or contact us today!

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