Surviving re-orgs and buyouts at a distance

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Jun 06 2024 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

Lately, a number of our clients have undergone one of two very painful processes. They have either been bought out by another organization or are weathering a seismic re-organization inside their company. This time is always stressful and full of unknowns. But for people working remotely, it can feel like everything is out of our control.

Do they know the quality of our work? How will you network with the new company when youíre not physically at the meetings? What do you know about how the new organization operates? Do you even want to stay on? Can you keep (even improve) your employment position when you are not working in the office every day? The answer is a resounding ďmaybe.Ē

Why is this happening?

When you work remotely or semi-remotely, you may have blind spots regarding what you know about the situation. Itís always a good idea to stop and think about what you know and donít know for a fact before attempting to navigate these new, choppy waters.

First, why was your current employer ripe for being overhauled or taken over? There are actually a finite number of reasons this might happen.

Key Talent: The acquiring company may be looking for specific individuals or skill sets.

Redundancies: When the existing organization and the new overlords look at their processes, there is probably a lot of overlap. They will look to streamline that.

Integration of Departments: A purchasing company often believes it can absorb more people and tasks inside their existing departments, (like HR).

Performance and Fit: Most organizations tend to favor their existing people over the newly acquired team. Good leaders always look for people who will perform at a high level and fit well within the new culture.

Transition Periods: Few organizations just sweep through and make all the changes required at once. Often thereís an initial panic, followed by a lull, then another (more definitive) wave of change.

Buyout Agreements: During the negotiation process, the company being purchased often does their best for the existing workforce. Guaranteeing a specific number of employees to stay on is a common example.

Location and Cost Considerations: Does the new organization already have a physical presence in your geography? Did they buy you because you are somewhere theyíre not? Where there is overlap, jobs will probably be lost. If they bought you to expand their reach, youíre probably in good shape for the short term.

As you look at that list, itís clear that some things are out of your control. As usual, there are factors inside your direct control, and things you can certainly influence, if not completely control. Working remotely has both advantages and disadvantages. But if you understand what may make you invaluable to the new organization, you can plan accordingly.

Outside Your Control

Letís face it, thereís little the average employee can do about why your company was purchased. The new organization may be more successful than yours. Your particular job may not match their vision for the future. Or perhaps your bosses sold you out during negotiations Ė it happens. Those things are out of your control.

The trick for individuals is to educate yourself about the change. Why did it happen? Why was your company sold? What does the new organization hope to achieve? Some things are beyond your ability to influence or change, but that leaves some clear places to focus your attention.

Things You Can Influence

Do you know who will be involved in the transition team on both your old company and the new owners? During the initial lull, you can find out who are the people with the power to set the new direction. When you work remotely, this will take some time and effort. Youíll have to read all the email updates, talk to people inside the organization, and be proactive. Location considerations are hard to overcome. But remote workers may have the chance to continue working since their day-to-day work isnít tied to the office location.

Things You Can Directly Control

When seismic change hits a team, the tendency is to put your head down and hope things will blow over. If you are serious about your career and want to survive or even use the change as a springboard for your career, you need to be proactive. There are three key things within your control that influence whether you ďsurviveĒ the change or not:

  1. Educate yourself about the change and network with the incoming team.
  2. Use Ethical Visibility to raise your profile. Just because you arenít in the office doesnít mean you donít (and canít) add value. They need to know who you are and what you bring to the new organization.
  3. Ask: ďHow Can I Help?Ē Itís not that your new employers donít care about you or hate you. They literally donít know who you are or why they should give a darn. If you want an opportunity with the new organization, make yourself visible to them. You have information they may find helpful. Stepping up will help you stand out.

Work First to Understand

As with any change, the first step is to understand the change itself.

  • Why is it happening?
  • What does it mean to the current organization?
  • What does it mean to me?

Only then can you ask the most important questions for yourself:

  • Do I want to be part of the change?
  • What outcome do I want?

Reorgs and buyouts can make us feel powerless and confused. But by understanding the change and being true to yourself, you can do more than survive. You may even come out ahead after the dust settles.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.