I remember that cold December day in 2013. It was right before Christmas vacation and I had just walked into the office. I was geared up for the holiday, but then someone walked up to me as I walked towards my office – Did you hear we’re being bought? They use Oracle and not SAP! Google Apps instead of Office 365! Panic, panic, etc. What ensued was several months of panic, appeasement from management, and again more panic.
Here is a dramatic reading of my reaction as performed by Michael Scott:
After months of hard work and a lot of ups and downs, I got through it and I learned some things. What follows are some tips for Broadcom employees and anyone else going through an acquisition. I’ve been where you are (quite literally). You will get through this, just breathe and read on.
Keep Your Ears and Eyes Open
Being on the acquiree end of an acquisition (I’m an English major, we can make up words), it is easy to become over paranoid. Listen to what management is saying, but keeps your ears and eyes open for what’s really going on. Information will likely fly around, some wrong, but some right. Make sure you are making any career impacting decisions based on what you think is best for you. Knee jerk reactions can lead to the wrong decision (see One Last Thing here).
Don’t Overreact in Public
Look, this is a hard time that you’ll be going through. Lots of money is going to be exchanged way above your pay grade. Don’t take any of it personally. This deal is insanely huge and you are just a cog until the dust settles. Don’t fight it – a company is not a democracy. The sooner you come to terms with this realization, the more relaxed you’ll be about the whole thing and can just focus on providing value and not worrying about your little corner of the world.
Remember, you know you’ve put in years of effort and, worst case, your next employer will see that contribution. Best case, the acquiring company will see your value. Regardless, you shouldn’t take out your anger on any walls if things don’t go your way.
Update Your LinkedIn!
Just in case they don’t see your value, update your LinkedIn profile and resume. When I was faced with the inevitable, I updated my LinkedIn and even started writing LinkedIn articles. One article might be particularly helpful if you’re just starting out.
There’s no reason to wait, get going! If you do it now, you’ll quickly get 2 benefits. First, you’ll be prepared if you are terminated under the new Broadcom (glad to see they are keeping the name). Second, it will help you prepare any internal self-reviews that you might need to complete to justify your job.
Remember the 2 Bob’s? Best to be prepared.
Keep Your Friends Close
Updating your LinkedIn and resume are great first steps, but keep your friends close and try to help them out if they decide to jump ship. You never know when they might be able to help you in return. I did a lot of resumes and gave out a lot of career advice to folks that were leaving. Those folks are now at companies in the area and I’m in IT sales. I’d say it has worked out pretty well so far.
It definitely isn’t time to burn bridges. No one at any significant decision making level is going to care what happens to you ultimately. Remember, money is flying around way above you in the ether, but those you’ve struggled and worked along side with will look out for you if you look out for them.
Someone once wisely told me that you should be nice to everyone because you never know who will be your next manager. This is a volatile time – look out!
Make the Best of the Situation
It is never fun to watch the work you’ve done go down the drain and be replaced by other systems. Obviously, you know best and everyone else is wrong, especially this new company. Who do they think they are anyway? Well, they must be doing something right because they’re buying your company.
Regardless, even if you’re transitioning off of your systems and processes to other people, make the best of it – help them succeed. There are real, but non-tangible skills you can learn through transition period, no matter how painful. Empathy and organizational skills can be gained here. That sounds useful in the future, right?
Even if you don’t think these soft skills are valuable, you have an opportunity to learn how another company operates. Learn as much as you can and see what happens. Remember this guy? You might find yourself having to drink some to stay sane, but keep your head up and pay attention.
Don’t Stop Believing!
Just like a feel good group hug, let’s end on the most optimistic hope we can. You’re only on this earth for a short time. It hurts when you work so hard for 50% of your life to wake up one day and find out that it all didn’t matter, but take solace. You (hopefully) helped your company get to a point where they were valuable enough to be purchased by someone else. There is a value there and, if you follow my advice, you’ll come away with some experiences gained through a fast and furious few months that you can use again in the course of your career.