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By Tor Constantino

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

I’ve worked for three different companies that were acquired by larger organizations on four different occasions. During and after each merger, I noticed several signs that the organizational change and evolution was not a fit for me at that time.

Based on those early-warning signals, I was able to identify and secure better opportunities with different organizations. Those warning signs included the following:

* People you respect are fired. During the second acquisition I went through, the president of our company — one of the best bosses I ever had — was fired. I was stunned by the surprise move, as was the entire organization. Since I was in charge of internal and external communications, the acquiring CEO asked my thoughts about his decision to fire the much-beloved president the day it happened. I told the CEO it sent the wrong message to all employees. It conveyed to each of them that they were all expendable. He smiled, nodded his head and said, “Good, I like to inject fear into organizations.” Needless to say, I started looking for my next gig after that meeting.

* People are no longer valued. Two times the layoffs occurred with compassion and a keen focus on employees, who were given ample severance, career placement resources and time to plan. The other two instances can only be described as mercenary. One day people were there, the next they were not. No explanation or context was provided. While reductions in force (RIF) are part of virtually every business, dignity and respect need to be a part of every RIF. If they are not, consider looking elsewhere even if you are not laid off.

* More work, less reward. The employees who still have jobs usually get the added workload of excised personnel, without a commensurate increase in salary, title or influence. Once you’re forced into that role, the outcome tends to be physical and emotional burnout. To avoid that, it’s important to quickly recognize how unsustainable that arrangement is and consider other potential options.

Tor is a former journalist and current PR guy (wielding an MBA). The complete article, with additional warning signs is available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246189