Tales of an Acquired Employee

It occurred to me yesterday that in the months to come, many people who do not find themselves rightsized will find themselves acquired into a new company. Having had the privilege of experiencing this myself, I thought I would give the benefit of hindsight view.

When we were first acquired into Oracle, there was more drama than a high school prom. From DHL verifying if you had a job (or not) to senior executives crying on the phone telling you how they had failed. Even those of us who believed we had skills to contribute were left to wonder how exactly it was going to work out. What was going to happen to our products? Our teams? Our roles? 

Acquisition is an interesting situation where you find yourself part of a volume discount purchase. When you apply for a job, you get a sense that they want you. When you are acquired, you find yourself happy that they had your home address. 

You also are experiencing this change with a large group, resulting in mass speculation and lots of rumors. My general advice is to give it time and don’t believe every scary rumor you hear. Anything you worry about at the beginning is probably the wrong thing anyway. Do your best to not sweat the small stuff and to be flexible to new ideas

Most importantly I would recommend you remember that you have a new job, it is not a continuation of your old job with a new logo on the paycheck. Just as you did when you started working for your current company, you need to attempt to introduce yourself often, listen a lot, and learn the language of the group. Like any new job, you need to give yourself (and others) some time to get oriented. If you take the attitude that your job is new, your expectations are better set. You find yourself pleasantly surprised when something works as you are used to (vs. annoyed to find it different). You find yourself happy to have your vacation accrual continue from your initial start date (vs. annoyed to find the vacation policy different) and so on. With a new job, you expect that you are the one who will have to change

Sure, you didn’t ask for this new job, but at the same time you managed to get it without having to actually interview, so you have that going for you (which is nice). Acquisition is scary for us because we have so little control. Having confidence in your abilities and taking the time to find out how you can best contribute to the new objectives of the combined company will help you focus on things you can impact — and hopefully help you to quit stressing about the things you cannot.

Change is good for you. It is good for your skills, it is good for your network, it is good for your soul. Use the change to your best advantage and give it time for your plan to yield fruit. If you can manage to stay focused on going forward and not spend your time looking back, you will find the transition will be a lot easier.

Looking back at my own experience, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to join Oracle. I have crafted my ideal job, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I have met amazing new people, and I have learned a lot of new skills. As a personal kicker, I have also managed to shorten my commute. 

I am hopeful that the changes others experience in their own employment is full of similar opportunities. A lot is about mindset. Be open for change and patient that it will take time, and you will be fine.


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

What is Your Unique Value to Your Organization?

If I asked you what is your unique value to your organization, do you have an immediate and compelling answer? What if I asked your boss? Your peers?

I am sure you are all aware of the market conditions today and that many people have found their companies rebalancing the level of human capital at the expense of their employment. We all find ourselves in that interesting limbo wondering how close to home this trend is going to get. Will it impact us? Our spouse? Our neighbors? Many of us find ourselves stressed, others want to find a place to hide.

My question is, are you doing something about it? Are you following the lead of Steve and attempting to use this as an opportunity or are you just hoping to survive? 

So back to my question, what unique value do you bring to your company? If you can’t find an interesting and obvious answer, you might want to find someone who can help you figure it out (and quickly). If you aren’t excited enough about the value you bring to your organization, how can you expect them to be excited? Similar to my promotion rant, I hold firmly to the belief that you are responsible for your own career. Now is the time to bring the A-game.

After you have determined the answer to my question, you should go immediately and confirm it with your boss. Solicit her help in crafting your tag line. Next, check with your peers. Think about how you are applying this value to the benefit to the company. Are you doing enough? How can you challenge yourself to do better?

Why? Well, I guess it’s really about the scout motto. If this exercise only served to get better alignment of your role with your abilities, then you can consider it a win. BUT, if you do find yourself needing to look for a new job, you will be much better prepared to know what you are looking for and why they should hire you. 

Competition is heating up, use this as an opportunity or you will have missed a good one.


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Succession Planning – Better Without the Ion?

Those of us who follow the Talent Management investment curves know that Performance Management and Succession Planning are hot trends right now. Companies are attempting to leverage their workforce as a competitive advantage and both of these areas had technology innovations in recent years. 

Of course, as is often the case with trends, there are companies that have a plan first and leverage technology to solve it, and there are companies who start with a solution and attempt to figure out the problem.

This leads to many wanting to call into question the whole idea. 

Personally, I think that the point of succession planning is really not for succession at all. Most often C-suite changes are made when a company needs to “fix” something. When this is the case, companies will most likely want to look outside the four walls for new ideas.

Succession planning is useful in the case of a long-known retirement. Of course, planned retirement-based successions are often exceptions, especially in North America. In an attempt to avoid having people throw out the baby with the bathwater, I would like to suggest that you still need succession planning for two key reasons.

  1. Emergencies 
    In the unfortunate situation that something unexpected were to happen, having a well-established succession plan can help avoid additional disruption in the short-term. An excellent example has been given of Brokaw stepping in to fill the shoes of Tim Russert during the election.

  2. Developing bench strength
    In my mind, here is where the real value can be had. If you look at your succession initiative as a broader discussion about bench strength and development alignment, you can get a lot bigger ROI for the exercise. Using a succession discussion to analyze several layers of your organization against readiness can help you build development plans, define workforce planning initiatives, and bring to light top talent within your organization. 

So for those who wonder what all the hype is in succession planning, I encourage you to take a longer view of the process than just the tactical (or the competitive) approach. Use this emerging trend to help you to provide more value to the strategic needs of the company. Don’t just plan for succession, plan for success.


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Great Strategists Rock my World

I’ve been thinking on this topic off and on for some time trying to figure out how to write such a post and not seem like a complete butt kisser*. I have since realized that I’m cool with kissing butt when it’s called for, so I took that constraint off and wrote the post anyway.

As luck would have it, I’m in a very fortunate situation having an awesome strategist to work with. I seem to be very lucky in this regard in that this is not the first time this has happened. I consider a strong, smart strategist the most important thing to be successful in a development role. Why? Well quite simply, you can never build every cool idea you have. Being able to find the right set of priorities separates the men from the boys (as it were). 

The single most important thing [for me], in a strategist is when they “call it.” When they see around the corner where I cannot and help convince me which way to go. The bigger the idea, the more foresight, the better. Being able to get to market with something that is innovative is a huge rush for us nerds. 

I have mentioned before that I’m not really an innovator myself, I’m a problem solver. Being pointed in the direction of the right problems is critical when this is your weakness. 

The question is, how do you find such a person? That’s tricky since you have to be able to trust someone who knows things you don’t. Looking into their past track record is useful but finding someone you respect is paramount. 

So here’s to all the great strategists out there — you really do rock my world. For the combination of a great development team and an insightful strategist is really unstoppable.


*My attempt to use non-offensive language has taken me to unchartered territory, as those of you who know me will attest. That said, I’ve recently learned that my 3-year-old can spell the word b-u-t-t (thanks to her sister) so it has re-entered my vocabulary this week, if only to say “we don’t need to talk like that.”


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.