Magazine article Training & Development

How to Survive a Corporate Takeover

Magazine article Training & Development

How to Survive a Corporate Takeover

Article excerpt

So, now you're alone in the training department and must face the demands of new management. Scary, but also a great opportunity. Here's how to make the most of it.

Early in 1995, my employer was purchased by a larger company with a very different corporate culture. As the only trainer who survived the takeover, I had to make many adjustments in how I did my work. In particular, I had to get through a difficult transition and rebuild a training program that met the needs of the new management and still retained the integrity and quality of our previous programs.

The training department is not a comfortable place when your company is the target of a merger. The new management undoubtedly will have different training priorities, or training may be a low priority.

Wait a minute. Did I say merger? Forget it. There is no such thing. There are acquisitions. There are takeovers. There are armed incursions, vertical insertions, and carpet bombings. But there are no mergers. At least not between the cultures of management and business. When two organizations merge their tangible assets, their cultures don't immediately mesh. If you're on the receiving end of a takeover, you're likely to encounter a swift and deliberate effort to replace your company's culture with that of the folks who signed the check.

That can mean new rules, new procedures, and new product lines; layoffs and early retirements; and executive buy-outs. The carnage may leave you in a state of shock. Mergers can be painful, especially if your company isn't performing to the standards of the new regime. All sorts of difficult changes have to happen in order to form a unified new company. Having just gone through it, I advocate making the changes quickly and decisively. Intense suffering in the first year is better than lingering pain that can last a decade.

Holding the training bag

Let's get back to training and the takeover process. When my company was purchased, the new management completely reorganized the training department so that there was only one managing trainer instead of five. I didn't lose my job like the others, but the shake-up did affect me.

Here are a few tips in case you're ever left holding the training bag.

Get on with it. Watching colleagues leave is tough, but you can be better off afterwards. When the old team was still around, it was easy to cling to past approaches and make little progress.

Stay in touch. Maintain a relationship with your former colleagues. Now that they are on the outside, they are part of your training network. …

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