Help dealing with a company merger

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distracted_at_work
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Help dealing with a company merger

Post by distracted_at_work » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:22 pm

Howdy all. The small company I work at is being gobbled up in the near future. I am supposed to meet with the new company bosses on Thursday I have realized that it less a "meeting" and more an interview. Things may be changing more than I originally thought. I have a few concerns about the larger company and would very much appreciate any advice.

I am paid hourly as a consulting engineer with unlimited unpaid vacation, zero benefits but an extremely flexible work environment. In 2016 I took, probably, a total of five weeks off. I often go skiing (I work as a ski guide on weekends), play hockey on some lunch hours and go on extended hike trips in the summer etc. I manage to work from home some days and was planning to work from the road on a long trip this spring. Myself (and fellow coworkers) are concerned about losing this type of flexibility. Should I raise my support for maintaining these things right now? Or just get through the interview?

Another concern... work clothes. I wear jeans, dress shoes and dry-fit polos nearly every day. The company we are merging with only introduced casual Friday this past month.... I despise fancy work clothes and fundamentally do not understand why I cannot bill expensive suits to company funds if I am required to wear them to work. I know it sounds dumb this is a genuine concern for me. Being forced to buy expensive clothes that have no use to me outside of work may cause me to pop a gasket.

I do not expect the merger to change my day-to-day work or pay but who knows.

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Dragline
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by Dragline » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:37 pm

Don't bring up any personal issues right away. Just get through the meeting/interview until you know more about what is going on. To the extent you need to say anything, make yourself sound as useful and integral to important projects/clients as possible. That's where any leverage you have will come later.

And note that they may not change anything right away, but implement something different some months down the road.

Also start looking at/for other opportunities. Most of what will happen there is completely outside your control.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Jan 24, 2017 7:21 pm

It sounds like you are loosely associated with the company, or will seem so to the new company. Some will like the flexibility, some will resent your independence. Either way, out of your control.

I would:

Price a work only wardrobe into my compensation. If I have to dress/groom in a way I don't like, there must be a reason. Cash is why I'm there. More cash is why I look funny while I'm there. How much, and how funny, are negotiable. I'd wear a dress tomorrow to retire Friday...

Start shopping around for other work. Maybe nothing changes, maybe you don't find anything, but it is always easier to get the next job, when you don't need it.

Most importantly, every job is negotiable. New management may mean new negotiation. It may mean finding a new job. It may mean doing different work or less flexibility. You have to decide what these things mean to you.

ducknalddon
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by ducknalddon » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:46 am

I've worked for several companies that got taken over, very similar patterns emerged. In particular they all started by telling staff how surprised they were about the quality of people. Then over the next few months nearly all the management leave or if they don't go of their own accord they get pushed out. Your sponsors are likely to be in that group so if you want to stay you will need to establish a relationship with the incoming management.

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distracted_at_work
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by distracted_at_work » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:53 am

All very good advice, thank you for the replies.

@Dragline I agree and will focus on the interview/work I do for now.

@Riggerjack Thanks for bringing up the point about compensation. As a side note, I think I have taken on the responsibilities of a senior engineer but take the pay of an engineer-in-training (which I am). For that reason and the imminent change in work culture/dress I will bring up increasing pay just probably not tomorrow.

@ducknalddon This is good to know.

As for other work, two fairly major companies have presented themselves as opportunities this past year. I hadn't pursued them other than keeping communication open as a backup plan. It's hard to rock the boat when things are, generally, good.

I'll let everyone know how it goes tomorrow.

userqname
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by userqname » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:54 am

+1 to Just get through the meeting. For now. When it comes time to negotiate, I highly recommend reading some Chris Voss. He's a former FBI hostage negotiator who writes about applying his skillset to business. If you are on ERE forums, you probably have some FU money saved up. You also have a second job. Its time to use that leverage.

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Chris
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by Chris » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:08 pm

This is a "don't ask for permission" type situation. I would keep your work style until someone says otherwise. Hopefully by that time, they'll understand the value you bring, and realize that it does makes sense to hassle you over minor workplace stuff.

If eventually you and your employer can't see eye-to-eye, hit the road. Due to the acquisition, you've got a good answer for the "why did you leave your last company?" interview question.

Scott 2
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:49 pm

distracted_at_work wrote:As a side note, I think I have taken on the responsibilities of a senior engineer but take the pay of an engineer-in-training (which I am).
Either you don't appreciate the full duties of a senior engineer, or you should be moving on if a promotion does not appear in the next 6-12 months.

It's very difficult to realize your full value in the company you start at. You'll always be the recent graduate or intern to the old timers.

OTCW
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by OTCW » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:11 pm

I don't know what kind of Engineer you are, but if you are in a field that values an Engineer with a professional license, I would work towards getting the experience necessary to sit for the exam. Once you have passed it and become licensed, your pay should increase substantially. If it doesn't, the license and experience makes you very hireable at other places for increased pay.

Farm_or
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by Farm_or » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:38 am

I've worked through one such take over. The big fish swallowing the small fish had a system. They brought a transmission team. The best of which was the acting top manager (ie hatchet man).

At first, it rattled everyone. But when we realized that the changes were systematic, it started making sense. I especially appreciated that he would walk the floor daily. He got a lot of first hand information by just leaving the office. When he was done "leaning the hog" and other unpopular changes, they moved him on. I took a liking to him and his no-nonsense leadership (was ex marine).

It was a natural evolution of a company trying to expand their market share. I voluntarily left about two years later though. They were not clever or innovative, they were just big and tried to gain monopoly type advantages.

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distracted_at_work
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by distracted_at_work » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:03 am

Interview has been pushed back to tomorrow so another restless night of sleep for me. Hooray :roll:
Scott 2 wrote: Either you don't appreciate the full duties of a senior engineer, or you should be moving on if a promotion does not appear in the next 6-12 months.

It's very difficult to realize your full value in the company you start at. You'll always be the recent graduate or intern to the old timers.
Maybe senior isn't the right word? I essentially have the duties that professional production/operation/completion engineers did at the company I worked for as a student. I work, mostly, autonomously managing xxx bpd of oil and gas among doing most of the regulatory work. The only difference being I need to get certain actions signed off on as I do not have my license.

Maybe relevant, I've received a significant bonus and a raise during my first 12 months for performance.

@Chris: Good advice, this was essentially how I got to my dress code at current company.

@OTCW: I'm a Mechanical Engineer. In my province we do not have an exam other than an ethics exam, otherwise the license is purely based on professional development hours. Unfortunately, my specific situation as a mechanical working in petroleum is flagged as requiring extra years to acquire a license. This does tend to lead to an immediate increase in pay in my industry.

@Farm_or: Interesting. We've been told there won't be any hatchets falling as our group has no counterparts in the new company. We will see if that remains true...
Last edited by distracted_at_work on Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

scriptbunny
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by scriptbunny » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:52 pm

My company was acquired twice in the past two years, job sounds pretty similar to yours.

I know a lot of people advocate the head down approach, but my co-workers and I pushed back hard on compensation cuts during our transition interviews. After that push back, my compensation went from a 10% cut to a 10% increase, with better benefits. So I'm definitely on team make-a-scene, especially if you are a revenue-generator and your colleagues are doing so as well.

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distracted_at_work
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Re: Help dealing with a company merger

Post by distracted_at_work » Fri Jan 27, 2017 5:04 pm

It went really well! Without digging too much into the specifics:

It would appear I'm likely moving from hourly to salary with benefits/vacation. He said at worst my pay gets a freeze (if I am currently making more than my counterparts) and at best I get a raise (opposite situation). Should still be able to take five weeks a year off but now they will be paid through vacation days and overtime generated vacation days. I don't expect my total hours worked to change. Overall, compensation up :D

Career wise I will get to see some sides of the industry I haven't seen yet and may have a chance to go international down the road. They mentioned the whole merger probably benefits me most as the youngest guy.

I didn't bring up dress code but I will try to same thing as always and dress as I do unless it becomes an issue.

Thanks again folks.

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