6 Tips for Navigating a Home Builder Acquisition

Key Points:

  • Navigating a home builder or building materials acquisition is a nerve-wracking and confusing time for employees.
  • It’s important to realize that you’re not entirely helpless in the situation and that there are many things you could do to navigate a company merger successfully.
  • Research the acquiring company, stay positive, prepare, and don’t fall for the fallacy of fairness as you navigate the merger.

6 Tips for Navigating a Home Builder Acquisition

A home builder acquisition or building materials company merger can be a nerve-wracking and confusing time for the employees.  It’s possible that nothing feels familiar anymore and you’re shocked by the new company culture.  You may sense that your co-workers are panicking and perhaps afraid that they will lose their job.  All that on top of a new boss to report to.

Most home builder mergers and acquisitions are kept quiet until they are official and you may not have a good notice period.  At this point, it’s important to realize that you’re not entirely helpless in the situation. There are many things you could do to navigate a company merger successfully.

1. Get Real – Change IS Happening

Change is happening, it’s real, and it will affect you one way or the other.  There is no sense in acting like changes within the organization aren’t coming.  Wrap your head around these upcoming changes and apply the right mental attitude moving forward.

2. Consider Your Position

Your job security will most likely depend on the purpose of the merger/acquisition.  Discover what it is that the acquiring company is trying to achieve with the merger.  The following are a handful of reasons the acquisition may be taking place.

  1. Attractive Product Line.  If your current employer is developing or has a successful product line that the acquiring company wants; how relevant is your position to that product?
  2. Land Assets.  The purpose of the merger could be to acquire an asset, such as a strategic piece of land or geography. Your job security could depend on whether this asset is manned or not, and whether it requires your position to stay operational.  In many cases, the acquiring company may not have operations where the new land assets are the local talent will be very important.
  3. Talents.  Sometimes a merger happens because the acquiring company is looking for specific talent.  Are you in the intended talent pool? Does the other company have a job title that overlaps with yours?
  4. Finances.  In mergers that are concerned with improving finances, it’ll be important for you to prove your value to the company. Be prepared to share instances where you’ve saved or earned the company money.  If the other company has a position that overlaps with yours, expect one of you to be let go. Common examples include regional managers, as well as accounting and marketing teams.

3. Research the Acquiring Home Builder

It’s important to try to get a sense of the acquiring company’s ethics and work culture. It can help you manage your expectations of its employees and perhaps prepare you for any changes that will occur in your workplace.  The acquiring company’s culture is likely to dominate depending on the size of the acquisition.  Depending on the new company culture, it may be time to prepare an exit plan.

4. Keep a Positive Attitude

Navigating a home builder acquisition is hectic for everyone, including management. Bring a positive attitude and work harder than usual to help ease the transition.  If you sense a problem caused by the merger, offer to help. Having a positive outlook towards the new change will make you stand out amid a sea of whining.  Be an early adopter of new processes, and build connections with the other company’s employees.

5. Consider Timing

You can expect up to six months of initial confusion before everyone figures out what they need to do.  Generally speaking, the faster the changes, the worse the outcome will be for the target company.

If the acquiring company feels the target company is not well-run, it shouldn’t be surprising for you to notice sudden changes in finances, reporting structure, and your overall workload.  This is a strong indicator of an unsuccessful merger, and you may be more inclined to jump ship.  A good merger entails mutual respect between the two companies and this should include respect for the processes that are already in place.

6. Prepare for the Worst

Even if you’ve done everything right, there’s no guarantee that you’ll remain in your current position.  Begin your job search as soon as possible and keep your options open.  Be sure to button up your resume, polish up your LinkedIn profile, and be mindful of career development tips to prepare you for your search.  When you do leaver, be sure not to burn bridges.

Additionally, consider your expenses. Will you be able to pay them if you were laid off? If you were let go as a result of the acquisition, most companies will provide you with a separation package.  However, the company isn’t legally required to pay you. It’s wise to prepare either way.

When Navigating a Home Builder Acquisition, Don’t Fall for the Fallacy of Fairness

Keep it positive and don’t fall into the mental trap where you perceive every outcome needs to be fair.  When engaged in the fallacy of fairness, you’re more likely to wind up feeling angry, resentful, or hopeless.  Do not do this.

Even if your position is no longer needed in the new company, you can still be transferred if your work is seen as valuable in that area.  See the merger as a new, exciting opportunity. Treat it as if you’re applying for a new job.  Even if you leave your job, it may open up new doors for you, as you’ll be more willing to take risks and discover what you really want from your career.


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