I joined my current employer fresh out of university back in 2011 and have had some formative experiences in my 8 years of employment. Whether it has been the INCREDIBLE graduate scheme (still the best experience I've had), being able to collaborate with excellent colleagues, working for a diverse mixture of clients and being fortunate to from different company offices and client sites, I have been very happy so far. However, saying that there have been some changes in that time would be an understatement to say the least! Over my career at one company, I have worked under three different brand names and come 2020 will likely be working under a FOURTH should Wood's sale of my division to Jacobs complete. Just when you get used to something, time to pack up and leave again!\n\nEnergy Services Giant Wood Pulls Out of UK Nuclear\n\nSo what exactly have I learned from all of these changes? Unfortunately, due to the nature of what I'm talking about, I cannot share highly specific anecdotes, but what I can do is provide an overview.\n\nA Period of Uncertainty\n\nEven with the best laid plans, people can be left scratching their heads. As Wood is a publicly listed company, I learned of the sale the morning off the announcement after the stock market had been briefed. After prepping my coffee and heading for the stairs, a colleague broke the news to me in a "have you heard" manner, which initially I thought was a joke! Turns out he had already been to his desk and read the email, and my copy of the comms was waiting for me as I booted up my machine. My surprise stemmed from the fact that we had only just become Wood around years ago.\n\nWood Group and Amec Merger Completes\n\nIn situations like this, from a leadership point of view it is imperative that staff are regularly kept informed of the situation and any progression made. They should also be openly allowed to ask questions which are subsequently answered, collated and centralised (perhaps in an online FAQ) so that others can learn. Anything else beaded breeds uncertainty, and this is most certainly NOT what you want. Individuals will handle uncertainty differently, and many will become stressed by the fear of the unknown. To assuage this, be as honest and transparent as possible. You may not have all the answers, so just say when this is the case.\n\nPeople trusting and facing an uncertain world together\n\nOur division and our buyer has been great with this btw. We've been receiving regular updates, and have had the opportunity to receive answers to our difficult questions.\n\nThe Big Transition\n\nIn the past, there has always been a transitional period when two or more companies have come together. I joined the company when it was Amec and lived through the purchase of Serco Technical Services as well as the purchase of Foster Wheeler when we were merged and rebranded as Amec Foster Wheeler. Both had periods of transition, where terms had to be agreed/harmonised, HR had to expand, IT had to be integrated and values had to agreed.\n\nAMEC Buys Serco’s Nuclear Services Business\n\nAmec Agrees to Buy Foster Wheeler for $3 Billion\n\nThink about it this way, every company is different. When the organisations were separate they had their own, different individual branding, cultures, ways of operating and hired people that perfectly fit the ideals of one individual company, but maybe not the other. They had their own approaches to Human Resourcing, Finance, Safety and IT, and formulated processes and procedures around these ways of work. When bringing organisations together, there will be overlap, duplication and redundancy, and leadership will want to take the best of every element available to them. Determining and balancing this is a massive task that grows in complexity the bigger the organisation.\n\nHere, patience is virtue that should be channeled by everyone. There is a LOT of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that existing processes can continue to tick along and encompass the new real estate that they now apply to. New procedures and ways of work will have to be formulated that best encapsulate everyone concerned, and many of these won't even be possible until the organisations are brought together! It can be equal measures of exciting (a whole new world of opportunities) and frustrating (why doesn't this work like it did last week), but necessary as the organisations link and grow together. Things in the short term may not function as efficiently as before, but in the long run the business will likely be much better off.\n\nTwo people waiting patiently for better things to come\n\nThe best form of help is to offer your insights and expertise to the people tasked with bringing the company together and help to shape the future. Your opinion matters and diversity of thought should be used to shape the future direction of the new business. It's by no means an easy task and whilst the headline items will be completed in the first few months, the overall effort will likely take years!\n\nCulture Shock!\n\nAnother thing to get ready for is the potential clash of cultures when organisations come together. As individual entities, specific corporate identities will have been formed over years of trading, forged in the fires of different people, other clients, varied operating environments and potentially conflicting financial situations. When two tribes come together there can potentially be issues that will need to be worked through as all differences will effectively be held under a microscope. This can especially true when one competitor buys another, as the people within organisation being bought may have conflicting feelings and emotions that will need to be considered.\n\nHere, each side need to be willing to learn from one another in order to have a successful future together. Like with many successful relationships, all involved have positives to bring to the table and internal baggage to be managed (no one is perfect) and it's important to embrace this. Just because one company is in the laudable position to buy another, it doesn't mean that the buyee doesn't have FANTASTIC elements that the buyer can incorporate into their ecosystem. I argue that if you are buying something, you must be doing so for some positive reasons!\n\nPeople putting their hands in to work towards a brighter future together\n\nLearning together takes time especially when differing points of view are coming from differing cultures, but having such diversity of thought is a fantastic opportunity. If harnessed correctly, these differing viewpoints from differing backgrounds, operating environments etc. have the potential to make the organisation far stronger! I recommend starting user forums around specific issues identified as important from both sides and encourage staff to participate. Engagement is key to create the best overall culture, which itself is pertinent to the future of your organisation. Leave people and/or ignore voices at your peril!\n\nEfficiencies/Rationalisation/"Synergies" Are All Pretty Words for Redundancies\n\nI would describe myself as a straight talking person and I personally don't make it a habit to beat around the bush. So I'll give it straight right here, there is a very real chance of layoffs when companies are brought together. This can be due to many factors, including but not limited to overlapping jobs, one organisation having better capabilities than the other(s), targeted cost savings (dressed up in fluffy language like rationalisation and "synergies") and exciting certain markets. There is no sugarcoating this process, it sucks from top to bottom, causes stress, anxiety and can suck the personality out of even the happiest of teams.\n\nHere, from a leadership point of view, clarity and EARLY communication is VITAL. This is something that everyone will fear, and it is paramount that answers are given as soon as possible. If there are planned cost-savings, even if they won't immediately lead to lost jobs, say this as soon as possible. People need to know so that they can take appropriate measures. Many will have families and dependents to look after, a mortgage to pay, and other such payments so not keeping people informed could have a detrimental effect on happy home lives as well as the internal working atmosphere.\n\nTeam banding together in harder (muddier) times\n\nAs colleagues, teammates and friends, it is imperative that we band together in times like these. Stress and anxiety affect different people differently and you have no idea how a period of uncertainty will affect you and/or those around you. You know your team best and if anyone is behaving out of character try to be there for them. If you need support, reach out for it. Don't under any circumstances suffer, or let those around you suffer in silence. Try to foster an open environment and encourage people to assure their grievances. This goes hand-in-hand with the culture that we wanted to create earlier. Ultimately, even without "synergies", change can be stressful, so watch out.\n\nA Whole New World of Opportunities\n\nGiven all the teething problems (and there will be plenty), it can be hard to see the wood from the trees. But believe me, bringing companies together can provide a whole wealth of opportunities. There could be more offices to visit with lots of diverse work for you get involved with. It might bring expertise to learn from that didn't exist prior and insights not previously considered. I have benefited personally from this, working within many new teams. I credit a lot of my company software development experience to a 2 year placement in a team that came with a purchase whose offices were based at the opposite end of the country! I was able to work in a totally different environment, and I got to live by the beach! As a city-ish guy, it was absolutely fantastic and the knowledge and experience I gained has proved invaluable to me.\n\nYou find this out through investigation. Research the new areas of the business. Does any of the new stuff sounds interesting to you? Reach out to people previously on the other side (now on your side), find out more, start a dialogue! If you have an internal company chat application (e.g. Slack, Teams, Yammer etc.) introduce yourself, pose a question, get a thread going about something interesting to you and the company. There is so much scope and potential for growth, you just have to put yourself out there and let people see you, your team and what you are capable of.\n\nPeople getting to know each other after being brought together\n\nBringing Us Together\n\nWith Wood selling my division to Jacobs, again I find myself moving to a new company (my fourth) without the pain of recruiters, job interviews handing in my notice. From my previous experiences, I know that there will likely be an adjustment period to go through, and it is important that we are all open and honest during the process. Such changes can affect different people in different ways, so it is important that teammates look out for each other in such periods of transition. Finally, there will likely be different opportunities available on the other side to embrace.\n\nAll the best and take care. Si.