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The company I work for (as a contractor) was recently acquired by a larger company. This has led to mass resignations from people that have been working here for many years (and in some cases decades). In the near future, I would like to approach the former CEO (before the takeover) and share my concerns about this situation. Coworkers are talking and speculating if this company will even withstand a year without those who resigned. I really like working here and I'm happy with the salary, my work as well as with my colleagues.

My concerns include the following:

  1. Why are employees leaving this company?
  2. What does this signal for me personally?
  3. What are the prospects for the company in the coming months / years?
  4. Is there anything I can do to assist the company during this uncertain time period?

How can I voice my concerns without coming across as aggressive?

Should I start with a question such as "Are you satisfied with my performance?".

What is the most productive approach to discussing this sensitive issue with my manager?

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Short answer: It's probably better to speak with either your agent or your hiring manager.

Large resignations after a takeover can be for a variety of reasons, especially if people have been in the previous company for years. I have seen this happen when a company I worked for separated off one of their division and sold it. Many of the people I worked with were unhappy and resigned.

Being a contractor, you probably are somewhat insulated from the employment conditions that staff have, so you may not be fully across if there were any changes in them for existing staff.

Voice your concerns to your agent or hiring manager. Talking to the previous CEO, if you haven't had much interaction with him for some time, is probably unproductive. More than likely you would receive a "sanitized" response as to the reasoning, as it's in your old CEO's best interests to make things look like a happy ship.

If there is a systemic issue in the company, do ask the question and if enough people are asking, it may well produce a company-wide comment from management.

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  • Thanks. I was also thinking about the hiring manager. This is not a big company so it is so that this manager is was also director of operations due to lack of HR. The company was quite "family" aimed with no real boss-employee hierarchy. I was also worried that the response will be, sanitized, as you said and I wont know how to react to that – Mike Jul 22 '15 at 2:41
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    Unless you ask someone who has already left their reasons, or someone who you know is still there but dissatisfied then a sanitised response is all you will get most likely. – Jane S Jul 22 '15 at 2:43
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    @Codingo I approved your edit, but my Australian English spelling was quite fine! ;) – Jane S Jul 22 '15 at 2:54
  • Short.comment: Your manager(s) may not know either, or may be worried about morale effects if they answer completely. Or the answer may change at any moment. – keshlam Jul 22 '15 at 22:14
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    True.... but in addition to sanitizing they may not know. Sometimes the fate depends on how many people leave, and thus has the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. – keshlam Jul 23 '15 at 2:54
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This has happened a lot of times in my career.

Why are employees leaving this company?

Lots of reasons; Moral is low, their friend was fired, they don't like the larger company, they are upset that the company they were with sold out, they are very very comfortable in their ways and can't handle the change and take it out the way they can, they are scared of being fired, don't see room to progress, followed someone else out the door.

Point is, it doesn't matter - as long as you enjoy the place you work don't get caught up in other people's reasons for not wanting to be at the company.

What does this signal for me personally?

Nothing unless you want it to, you are a contractor and the company still needs employees, especially ones that want to stick around after everyone else has left. This puts you on a good tier visibly in the new companies eyes.

What are the prospects for the company in the coming months / years?

This also can vary, you should research to see if the company that bought you out is an 'investment firm' cause if that's the case then they are going to milk the company dry in order to make a profit. This usual means that they will hire people at the lowest pay they can, give the current workers as little progress in pay as possible while also pushing everyone harder to make the company more valuable.

If you find the company that took over is actually interested in the current value of the company then you'll see the opposite. The company will put in a lot of care and tending to make it better and the employees within.

Either way you will see change, whether it's good or bad depends on you and the company that took over - you'll need to research the larger company to find more thorough answers for this.

Is there anything I can do to assist the company during this uncertain time period?

Simple answer, yes - be the change they want to see or work towards whatever it is that the larger company is focused on. Again, this is going to require you to research that company. You can also start meeting the new members of the higher ups (If there aren't any, there has to be someone that the larger company sends over) talk to them, ask them questions, bond with them.

How can I voice my concerns without coming across as aggressive?

You shouldn't and don't need to - you did just voice them on this forum. The company and management knows there are concerns, they are aware there is some discourse with all the change happening. Showing them that you are still there to do your job through it is the best thing you can do. Things change and that's normal, some people just can't cope with it - being someone who can will show them how valuable you are.

What is the most productive approach to discussing this sensitive issue with my manager?

See above.

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    An alternative view of the "why" - the buying company wanted your company's intellectual property/products/customers but didn't want the employees that came with it. They are therefore either quite happy to passively watch people go or have signalled subtly that the prospects for your colleagues are not great in the longer term. – Julia Hayward Jul 22 '15 at 7:58
  • True - though it's always strange some companies do this since the company is the people. – user37925 Jul 22 '15 at 15:45
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In comments you stated this was a relatively small company.

How can I voice my concerns without coming across as aggressive?

Example:
You: "Hey Bob. Do you have a minute?"
Bob: "Sure." thinks, great, another one
You: "I noticed a lot of people are leaving. Any idea what's going on?

At this point Bob will likely tell you that everything's fine. Some people just don't want to be part of a larger company, blah blah blah. He'll tell you not to worry and that he's looking forward to the new situation.

In other words, CEO Bob isn't going to give you anything actionable.

Assuming you spoke with your direct manager --- it would be pretty much the exact same conversation.

Should I start with a question such as "Are you satisfied with my performance?".

No. It's a waste of time as CEO Bob now has someone else they report to and (hopefully) you are not even on their radar.

What is the most productive approach to discussing this sensitive issue with my manager?

The problem here is that I'm going to assume that you don't have much of a social relationship with that manager. In other words you two haven't gone out for beers or invited each other to your kids birthday parties. This means the manager really isn't going to feel like they need to go out on a limb and spill any of the real gossip.

All of this to say: talking to management has a high degree of probability of being a complete waste of time.

So, if you want to hear the real dirt, talk to people that have left. Ask them why they left. If you are on good standings with any of them then they'll let you know. If they don't know you then, well, you probably won't get much.


BTW, because you are a contractor I'd expect your position to be up in the air. If you provide a core function then the new owners are going to want someone full time. If you don't then the owners are going to make a decision on whether the position you fill is even necessary. So if you want to stay you might consider figuring out which of those positions that are now open you'd like to fill on a full time basis. Then go talk to new management about filling those shoes.

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You are merely a part-time contractor - Does any of the management have to report anything to you, are they accountable to you?

As a part-time contractor, you are only periphally involved in what's going on and no one in management owes you an explanation.

My opinion is that you are butting into things that are none of your business and that you have NO standing to ask. If the new management does not realize that people are voting with their feet, then their lack of situational awareness is their problem not yours. It's up to the ones most directly affected, the full-time employees, to speak up. And if they leave without saying anything, so be it.

Having said that, you have a legitimate right to say to the management that you are concerned over YOUR future at the company and to ask about their plans for you. You most likely are going to get a non-answer until they suddenly decide to change your status.

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    Wow that was harsh. Thanks for reminding me that I should shut up becaue Im not important enough to ask questions. I did not say that they owe me any explanation but asked here how can I approach someone from the management (this is not some corporation with people having stick in their butts) and express my concerns. Whom should I ask if not them? I do not have a superior other than them. As said, we dont have hierarchy ladder – Mike Jul 22 '15 at 2:53
  • @Mike For what it's worth I toned down his post. It was unprofessional at best. I think his point was that you aren't a direct employee and as a contractor this isn't so much your concern. I disagree, but I've revised the wording to show it as such. – Michael A Jul 22 '15 at 2:56
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    That does not even make an attempt to answer the question but feels more like an unfocused rant. – Hilmar Jul 22 '15 at 11:54
  • @Hilmar My answer couldn't be clearer. The OP has no standing to ask about the mass resignations at the company. The OP has standing only to ask about the company's plans for him. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 22 '15 at 12:00
  • Why does anyone have to have "standing" to be concerned about the company where they work? Sounds like Feudalism. – user8365 Jul 23 '15 at 11:29

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