M&A: 6 Steps to Embrace the Challenge as an Employee


This is the second of a two-part series. Part 1 focuses on managers.  

Your company just announced that it’s merging or being acquired. That might be good news for the business, but what about for you as an employee? You’re about to enter unfamiliar territory. M&As mean major changes, and they can be a nerve-racking time in anyone’s career.

But where there is risk, there can also be great opportunity. Here are six steps you can take to make yourself indispensable in the new company, weigh up the pros and cons of sticking around, and brave the worst-case scenario of a restructuring that doesn’t include you in its future.

1. Know the score. 

Find out as much as you can about the transition. How will it affect your company, department, position and career goals? To gauge opportunities on the horizon, ask your boss candidly about the short- and long-term implications of the deal. An M&A can often bring new staffing requirements — especially when it comes to project management — as well as additional financial and regulatory roles, such as tax, audit, risk, compliance, financial analysis, legal and HR.

2. See the glass as half full.

Stay optimistic and focus on doing your work well. Don’t get distracted, lose momentum or speculate with coworkers about the new deal. Gossip fuels uncertainty, and joining the rumor mill could damage your credibility and tarnish your perceived value.

3. Prove your worth.

Take initiative, volunteer for new assignments and embrace challenges. Make yourself available to managers and colleagues during the transition, and be open about how you perceive your role and contributions to the company. Ask to be included in meetings regarding new projects, and make it clear that you’re keen to branch into new roles and responsibilities.

quote about strengthsReach out to new co-workers from the other company — especially those doing similar jobs to yours — and discuss different approaches, processes and procedures, with a view to finding the most effective, practical ways to work together. Show that you’re an invaluable and flexible team player by adapting to evolving requirements.   

4. Network with new and familiar colleagues.

Networking could provide valuable insight into the new company or open doors for you elsewhere. You could also approach a mentor who has experienced a merger or acquisition and seek advice on how to adapt and excel in a changing environment.

5. Decide whether to stay or go.

Make a list of what’s important to you, then determine whether the new environment ticks the right boxes. Assess the stability of your role and of the new company as a whole, and consider how the merger or acquisition will affect your job satisfaction and growth opportunities.  

How do you think you’ll gel with the new corporate environment? Will the changes be manageable, or do they seem too extreme for your liking? Tap your network for insights and experiences of similar situations before making your decision. 

6. Part gracefully, if it comes to that. 

M&As rarely involve retaining the entire workforce of both firms. If your job is cut, try to leave on a positive note. Accept the decision gracefully, review your contract carefully and endeavor to negotiate mutually satisfactory parting terms.

It’s a small world. Take care not to badmouth employers on your way out; you never know when you may need a referral or recommendation.

M&As affect everyone at a firm, and every merger or acquisition is different. But with honest self-reflection and communication, you can put yourself in the best possible position to make informed choices about your future with the firm.

Learn More

It never hurts to see what’s out there. Robert Half Finance & Accounting has recruiting teams that can work with you and keep your job search confidential.

Related Resources

Merger Mania: How to Keep Employees on Track When Companies Combine

The Human Factor in M&A Success

Protiviti’s Guide to Mergers and Acquisitions: Frequently Asked Questions