If you’re involved in a merger, some of your best people in the acquired company are job hunting. Count on it.

Maybe you don’t have many who are circulating their resumes yet, but you can bet the majority are considering their options. Mergers are good at getting people’s attention. Everybody wakes up, looks around, and wonders how his or her career will be affected.

Some people can’t stand all the uncertainty and ambiguity, so they start looking for opportunities somewhere else. Others have a pretty good idea of what’s coming, but don’t like the looks of what they see. So they, too, decide to check out other job possibilities. The most talented people, of course, typically have the best alternatives. Executive recruiters aggressively seek them out, knowing that mergers always loosen the ties that bind.

Research shows that acquired firms, on the average, lose four out of ten managers during the first twenty-four months of a merger. This turnover rate is three times the rate found in companies that aren’t involved in a merger. In hostile takeovers, the turnover rate among managers jumps above 50 percent.

Nobody tracks the turnover statistics on other important personnel such as key technical talent, the best sales people, and so on, but there’s no reason to believe their data would look very different.

Often, of course, people are the most precious part of the deal. If the top talent leaves, the value of the acquisition drops through the floor. That’s bad enough. But what makes the problem even worse is that those who depart frequently join up with and strengthen your competitors.

You might as well operate from the premise that everybody is considering other employment. With that as your mental framework, take a closer look at the situation. Who will be most crucial to the success of the merger?

Who can you not afford to lose?

Figure this out in a hurry, and ...

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