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Ten Ways to Survive a Merger

With the announcement of the $19 million deal for Kraft Foods to take over beloved British chocolate maker Cadbury, pundits have started speculating that a culture clash will lead to friction as the acquisition proceeds. On our own Sterling Performance, Chris Bones frets about the future of the deal and questions whether the cultures of a "successful, socially responsible and well managed business" and "a mediocre and flabby conglomerate with a patchy track record" can gel into a functioning single entity.

And as Bones points out the Kraft-Cadbury deal is hardly unique in being threatened by a culture clash. "Research tells us that 80 percent of hostile acquisitions fail to meet the business case put to shareholders. Cultural incompatibility is a key driver in such failures," he says. So what do you do if you are far below the level of the executives who cook up these mergers and are simply faced with surviving one of them with your career and your sanity intact?

The FT Management blog is offering ten tips from Scott Moeller, a professor at Cass business school and author of Surviving M&A: Make the Most of Your Company Being Acquired, on how to thrive in post-merger cubicle land:

  • Find ways to add value
  • Don't rely on your boss â€"- in a merger everyone looks out for themselves
  • Be patient â€" don't make rash decisions about your role â€" but also don't wait too long
  • Don't be a complainer: be perceived as a team player
  • Expect change and don't resist it: adapt to the new dominant culture
  • Use your network, both professional and social
  • Understand the new partner's objectives, not just your own company's
  • Promote your capabilities and accomplishments
  • Volunteer to serve on an integration team
  • Prepare a contingency plan
Many of these points are simply good advice for getting along in the corporate world generally, but nonetheless they're doubly worth keeping in mind if you're facing uncertain times after a merger or acquisition. Does anyone who's been through a difficult M&A transition have any tips for those facing the prospect of company-wide upheaval?

(Image of big fish, little fish by Stinkie Pinkie, CC 2.0)

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