Transition plan for temporary employees you inherit in a company acquisition

In my last post, I identified there are up to three groups of IT employees you will have in a company acquisition.

The plans for Groups 1 and 3 are straightforward, , , you terminate Group 1 and you try to lock in Group 3 for the long term.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about terminating employees and how to do it professionally so that you minimize risk for the employee and for your company.

In this post, let’s talk about Group 2 – employees you need to help you through the transition efforts of the acquisition but won’t be needed afterward. Once the transition is completed, you plan to terminate this group of employees.

The question is, , , “How do you get employees to help you through transition knowing they will lose their jobs when it is completed?”

What would you do if you were one of these employees, , , what would I do.?

Most likely, we would try to find a new company to work for as soon as possible once we know this is going to happen. Makes perfect sense.

The problem this gives you is that you need this group of employees to support the technologies of the company you have just acquired or maybe help with some of the transition projects your IT team must complete.

When the technologies are migrated and transition is completed, , , you do not need these transition type employees.

You need a transition plan for this group of employees and it has to include incentive for them to help you knowing they will ultimately lose their job.

You might be thinking we could move forward without telling the employees what is going to happen once the transition is completed. Yes, you could try this but the penalties can be severe.

A.  IT people are smart and they ultimately find out, , , when they do, they will leave before you are prepared for them to leave.

B.  I would call this maneuver a bit shady and underhanded, , , handling people or clients this way gets around and damages your company reputation more than you might realize. Taking advantage of others and doing things “one-sided” may help you in the short term but damages you in the long run. In your next acquisition you may find IT employees “running for the hills” as soon as they hear your company name mentioned.

I’ve been involved in over 40 company acquisitions and have faced this challenge many times, , , and one thing I know is that this circumstance is a very delicate issue. Handle it wrong and you lose people prematurely and put your company at risk.

Here is an outline of what I have done that has worked for me:

A.  Develop a transition plan for the group
Put a written plan together that outlines exactly what will happen and when it will happen.

B. Announce the plan to the group
Hold a meeting and give each employee his or her transition plan agreement. Present the outline to the group and explain what you are trying to do to transition the company with their help and to reduce risk for both the company and each of them by obtaining their help.

C. Reinforce the key points with each employee
After the meeting, meet with each employee individually to reinforce what was said in the general meeting, to answer questions, and to  reinforce the need for them to participate in the transition.

Click here to download a sample Transition Letter I’ve used many times.

A few key thoughts

–  There has to be real incentive in the plan to get their help and it has to be tangible, , , otherwise they will tell you they are “on board” until a week later when they come into your office and give you a resignation letter. To get their help, there has to be upside for the employee.

–  I usually built in a 25% of annual salary bonus for transitions taking 3 months or longer. Remember, you are asking people to put their careers on hold, , , they won’t do it if there is no upside, , , and it must be tangible enough to get their attention. Put yourself in their shoes, , , they need certainty and incentive to help you through this phase. Otherwise they will start looking for another employer.

–  The plan needs to have a guarantee of employment through the transition period, , , subject to normal employee performance and conduct. You have to make the employee feel secure in a situation that is very concerning for him.

–  Include outplacement support to help in resume preparation, interview coaching, and maybe even job search help.

–  Provide a Letter from the CIO explaining the reason the employee is leaving the company is because of the acquisition, , , he is just in the wrong place at the time.

–  Be sure you communicate on a regular basis with transition employees. They analyze their situation daily and when they don’t hear from you they get nervous and stressed.

If you handle the situation well there will be upside for the employee who stays with you for a few months to assist in the transition. What you hear when you are successful with this is, “We didn’t like the decision but we appreciated how professionally we were treated and the honesty from the managers who worked with us during this transition.”

Good luck, , , much more detail is included in my book, Acquisition:  IT Assimilation. This and all my books and tools can be found at www.mde.net.

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