VUCA – A voodoo doll or a pagan ceremony?

Israel continues to live up to its reputation as the “Start-Up” nation with the impressive deals, starting with the $340 million acquisition of Valtech by Edwards Lifesciences and the $200 million acquisition of Juno LAB by Gett (Israel), followed by the $170 million acquisition of Servotronix by Medea (China). The top three deals accounted for more than $700 million, nearly 36 percent of total exit deals in this period.

Israeli high-tech exits totaled $1.95 billion in 57 deals for the period of H1/2017 and comprised of 46 mergers & acquisition (M&A) deals, seven initial public offerings (IPOs) and four buyouts, totaling $1.51 billion, $227 million, and $218 million, respectively. (IVC-Meitar Exits Report)

For individual managers and employees, a merger of acquisition is not just a corporate strategy; it’s a personally disruptive – often traumatic event. The “post-merger integration” period can best be described as the “VUCA” period. VUCA is an acronym used to describe an environment characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. In this new environment, employees need to adapt to unfamiliar policies, practices, and politics, are often required to work with strangers from different corporate or even national cultures; or report to new bosses who know nothing about your track record or ambitions.

The 8 most common employee questions:

  1. Will there be a job for me in the new company?
  2. If my position is eliminated, will I receive a severance package?
  3. How will my role in the organization change?
  4. Will I be moving up or down the corporate ladder?
  5. Will the above affect my pay status?
  6. How will my benefits be impacted?
  7. Will I be able to integrate into the new corporate culture?
  8. Will my existing/new role require travel?


Embracing change

As challenging and nerve wrecking as change is, it can be viewed as an opportunity for growth and introspection. When done properly you can emerge from the process as ‘winners’ equipped with greater self-knowledge, heightened visibility, and new skills.

SWOT exercise

The next step is to first assess your strengths and weaknesses (SWOT) and the opportunities and threats presented by the merger.

In answering to yourself the following questions, you will have created clarity regarding your current and future career path.

Strengths: Is it your technical expertise, your interpersonal skills or maybe your knowledge about a particular professional area that will make you an asset to the organization? What makes you an employee that the organization would want to keep?

Weaknesses: Is there a side to your personality that will make you more vulnerable? Are you a team player? Do you possess inter-personal skills? Are you a good communicator? Do you adapt easily to change? How innovative and collaborative are you?

Opportunities: How can you make yourself into a more “visible” employee? Are there merger-related assignments that may showcase your abilities? What are the potential departments in the merged organization that can create for you growth opportunities?

Threats: Are you replaceable? Are there experts such as you in the merging organization? Is the corporate culture one where you can thrive?

Next, insert yourself into the integration process in a way that highlights your strengths or allows you to develop new ones. Most merging organizations set up a “transition configuration” – a temporary structure that is made up of committees, task forces and teams. If you choose to participate, you will have a chance to show your skills.

There is no question that mergers leave victims in their wake, but you don’t have to be one of them. By proactively evaluating your situation and seizing leadership opportunities created by the merger, you can set up your own agenda. It can be an onward and upward role in the organization and it can be a ‘ready-set-go” with enhanced skills for the next available opportunity. In either case, make sure you come out a winner.