The ethos is optimism. Job creation numbers are high, unemployment is low. The rate of joblessness - 3.2% - is even at a recent bottom for older workers.
But, there's an undertow of scary pessimism. In Bloomberg, Danielle DiMartino Booth interviews John Challenger, head of executive search firm and labor market researcher Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Challenger warns:
" ... an increase in large-scale job cut announcements could be on the horizon."
One major reason is the growing popularity of the Merger & Acquisition (M&A) as a strategic tool to scale. In the past six months, notes DiMartino, $1.53 trillion in M&A activity has been announced. Indeed, 2018 could be a record M&A year if all those deals go through.
There could be many winners during and after the M&A process. Those range from law firms specializing in M&A work to the joint entities themselves which enjoy new lines of products/services and/or increased market share.
Those most likely to be saddled with that classification are the older workforce. They have experience which may no longer be needed. They are at a high pay grade. And they could be perceived as potentially driving up the cost of the employer medical insurance premium.
Among those I coach, there are already those hearing M&A rumors and not optimistic their position will be spared, if a deal happens.
Each of their situations is unique. So, there are no absolute best practices.
For example, one in-house counsel would be smart to hold on and wait for a severance package.
Another shouldn't wait but aggressively search for another position right now. Given the glut of legal talent, that search might actually consist of a career transition. She will have to identify what experience and skills she can transfer to other lines of work.
But, in general, here are recommendations for those anticipating or undergoing the M&A process:
- Stay calm. That could impress the incoming regime to retain you as a bridge from past to future.
- Remain loyal. It may be obvious that the boss will be put on the exit ramp. But, often those players are saved. So, retain standard deferential behavior. Don't badmouth.
- Tell those now in charge: This is what I can do for you. Be explicit and detailed. That is what catapulted a middle manager at General Foods, when acquirer Philip Morris moved in, to an executive position in the larger PM company Kraft.
- Assume there is documentation of performance. Therefore, do everything by the book.
- Consult with a lawyer.
- Consult confidentially with executive search firms.
- Research how your background can be recycled into another job or another career path. You could be tossed out into a glut market.
The biggest challenge is to not be overwhelmed by what I call The Four Monsters of the Minds. Those barge in when the seasoned professional becomes vulnerable. Here, free to download, is my recent book on what can trigger a downward trajectory.
For any professional concerned about job security during the M&A or who has already lost a position, I provide a complimentary consultation. Please contact email@example.com to set a phone appointment. My coaching edge is compassion. I had been labeled "redundant." That experience was to traumatic that I opted for self-employment.
Contact Jane Genova firstname.lastname@example.org.