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How to survive a merger as an HR professional

Become a positive advocate of the new organisation.

Having the right attitude is crucial. This means keeping your emotions in check and being receptive to different ideas and fresh ways of doing things.

Don’t waste time and energy gossiping, speculating or trying to undermine the merger decision that has already been made and out of their hands. They’ll gripe about the new HR policies; how horrible the new structure is and how clueless the new leaders are– complaining that the old organisation did things far better.

It is futile so don’t join in.

Firstly, being in a positive frame of mind will not undermined your performance, but secondly your personal brand will be judged favourably.

Position yourself as too valuable to lose.

This is all about putting yourself at a competitive advantage. And this means realising your colleagues are also potential rivals. That’s not to say you should become adversarial, but you at least know the competition. Quickly acquire an understanding of the culture of the new company and how things get done. Identify who the new leaders and influencers are. This doesn’t mean becoming sycophantic towards them, but you need to build a business relationship with them.

It’s important that you prepare an elevator pitch describing how you can add value to the new organisation, and what your strengths are. This is important as you will be able to role this out whenever needed.

Then begin demonstrating to them immediately that you are the kind of flexible, value-added asset that can readily fit in to the new organisation and someone that can help make their new vision a reality.

You can do this by:

• Working harder than everyone around you.
• Over-delivering on your projects.
• Pitching in and helping whenever possible.
• And by volunteering for any merger-related activity and task force that you can get on.

Prepare Plan B

Surviving is also about making sure you are emotionally protected. Accept that during the period immediately following a merger or acquisition, you are being evaluated and under a microscope. Of course, your goal should be to succeed in the new organisation. However, the reality is your role is potentially at risk and there may be little you can do to affect this. Often an acquisition will result in a reorganisation and consolidation of the HR staff, which means you that you could end up needing to secure a role outside the organisation.

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