7. Be The Great Communicator
Never is the potential for data loss and staff flight more severe than on an IT team at a company that's being bought or sold. Salespeople might bolt with company lists, but a high-level IT administrator has much broader access.
Even if layoffs aren't planned, you've still got work to do. Upbeat speeches, meetings, and information packets will be undone as soon as your staff leaves the office. Everyone has a friend, spouse, or relative with a horror story about an acquisition gone south.
This will spook your staff, especially if you're on the sell side. The flash point for all this angst inevitably becomes IT. When a deal goes bad, it's often IT that gets blamed--IT is likely to be on the tail end of integration efforts and end up inheriting missteps the CEO, CFO, HR, and every other division made along the way.
"I just couldn't take the work environment," says one top engineer who went through what he saw as an ill- advised deal. "I take pride in my work, but this merger was just a cluster that kept me up at night."
It may seem odd to use the word "passion" when you're talking about technologists, but for many IT professionals, especially developers and architects, the systems they've built represent their lives' work. For all the talk about synergies and organizational fit, many acquisitions are simply about buying market share that a company couldn't get organically. And that can leave all that IT blood, sweat, and tears on the floor for what looks like a cold corporate decision.
Don't write off staffers' complaints. Maybe there really are problems upper management doesn't see. When a valued IT pro speaks up, listen, and where appropriate, refocus your efforts.
If you're on the buy side, get to the selling company's IT staff fast; don't assume that CIO is any good at communications. Not only does this communication enable you to jump-start the documentation process, it's also an opportunity to ease some fears and get a sense of the level of staff flight you could be facing.