Sanofi-Aventis

How to protect your career during a merger

February 18, 2011: 12:13 PM ET

New bosses, different rules, uncertain expectations -- when your company is acquired, the only sure thing  is that your job is on the line. Here's how to come out on top.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

Okay, so you probably don't work for Genzyme, which was snapped up by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis yesterday, or for NYSE Euronext, which is set to merge with its German counterpart Deutsche Börse. Still, with the pace of global mergers and acquisitions accelerating, chances are your company could be next -- and that the people calling the shots in the new combined organization will hail from a culture you know nothing about. Can you survive?

Probably, if you take a few essential steps quickly. "Americans in general are horrible at adapting to other countries' cultures," notes Lois Frankel, CEO of Pasadena-based Corporate Coaching International, who has counseled executives at Fortune 500 companies around the globe. "In a merger, it's survival of the fittest. Step forward right away and ask what you can do to help ensure the merger's success. Your first question should be, 'How can we make this work?'"

Frankel observes that "often people see this as 'kissing up' and resist it. But it's just practical, because you get the information you need. Even if higher-ups tell you, 'Just keep doing what you're doing', you'll get points for having asked. The perception will be that you're going to be an asset, rather than an obstacle." More

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