Help! I'm Not Valued By the Company That Acquired Us

Last Updated Jan 15, 2010 5:34 PM EST

Dear Ron,
My company was acquired by another firm last year and while I've managed to keep my position, I've found that those of us that were originally with the old company are not valued as highly as those with the acquiring company. We don't get as many of the plum assignments, and I don't feel like my boss is as invested in my career development as he is with the others. What if anything can I do?
This happens often in today's workplace, given all the merger and acquisition activity and the fact that many companies have strong corporate cultures that tend to reject any new blood. That said, you need to break new ground and try to find new opportunities in your new environment, which may require you to step out of your comfort zone. You'll need to really study the new culture and figure out how and why they do things the way they do. Then you'll want to work on identifying key players at the new company who can help you learn how to succeed there, and build relationships with them.

To do this, you may need to look beyond your immediate supervisor and try to find a champion there who can be very open with you about what it takes to fit into the new corporate culture. You're looking for someone who can recognize your unique value to the company, so you'll have to do a lot of informal work and relationship-building to find someone who understands what you bring to the table.

The reality may ultimately be that you don't fit, through no fault of your own, but you can't let that decision be made by just one boss or supervisor. There may be others there who can champion you and help you to reposition yourself within the company.

One potential strategy is to see how you can make your difference a strength by positioning yourself as having some unique expertise or approach that your new company sorely needs. One of my clients was in a similar situation when the technology firm where she was a director was gobbled up by a much bigger firm with a very strong corporate culture. My client found a way to balance the two cultures and market herself as a bridge between the two. She realized there was an opportunity to take on the role of educating the acquiring company on the mindset, approach, and skill sets of her old company. Her new bosses recognized her value as a sort of organizational interpreter, and wound up placing her in a relatively high position because of her fluency in both cultures.

As I said, you may have to simply accept it if the culture isn't a good fit for you and that you eventually may have to leave to achieve your potential. But you have to at least do everything you can to fit in first (and of course, with the job market as tight as it is these days, many people may have no choice but to figure out a way to make things work where they're at rather than go elsewhere).

Read More Power Plays From Ron Brown:
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Send Ron your career and job-related questions.

  • Ron Brown

    Ronald B. Brown is a leading expert in the fields of leadership development and organizational change. He is the founder and president of Banks Brown, a management consulting firm that specializes in providing leading-edge skills to optimize the performance of leaders and organizations. He has served as a consultant to Fortune 100 corporations such as the Procter & Gamble Company, Avon Products, Inc., McDonald's Corporation, General Electric Plastics, Kaiser Permanente, Shell Oil Company, Eastman Kodak Company, General Mills Inc., and Motorola, Inc. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. and B.S. from Michigan State University.