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Should I stay or should I go?

By Jack-M ·
I'm an IT dept.Manager with 9 techs and a PhD. I work for a medium sized company and have been there quite a while. I'm on a first name basis with the owner and it's the kind of company where employees and their family problems are important. We're pretty successful and a larger company is preparing to buy us. They have an IT dept. with a manager but I don't know if the increase in size and customer base will support 2 IT managers. I don't want to quit as I'm pretty settled, familiar with our customers and their equipment. The larger company has already approached me with an employment contract offering me a hefty raise to stay. If I stay I'm afraid I'll be downgraded to a tech or worse terminated once they've picked my brains.
If the customer base increases as they expect they may need two IT managers.(unlikely) Our businesses overlap with me being the communications engineer and IT mgr. and he being a computer engineer(non-degreed). At my age I don't want to start over but I'm afraid once they've picked my brains I'll be history.
Anyone ever been in this type position with advice to offer? This deal isn't going to be complete till August 1, 2007 so I have a very little time. Thanks for your time and attention.

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I've had a similar point in my career

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Should I stay or should I ...

Not a buy out, but a completely new management team, fetching in it's own people. Offered me an extra twelve k and a promotion to stay.

However they had a very bad habit of breaking promises, the new IT director was big on having his people in place, and I had little time or his big plan to turn the job round. New broom same sweeping action.

I left, three months later they went bust.
Not because I left, I'm not that big headed.

Don't be in a hurry to go, but keep the radar spinning, if they do plan to get rid of you, intimations of doom will abound.

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Nothing to lose

by DT2 In reply to I've had a similar point ...

It seem that you have nothing to lose by taking a position with the new company. You're out of a job if you don't, anyway. I'd accept the offer (you don't actually have to take it when the timne comes) but keep looking in case something extremely good comes along. Who knows, maybe they'll see your qualifications, make you manager and move the other guy to tech support.

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Easier to get a job when you have a job

by neil.larson In reply to Nothing to lose

I'd take the offer and get looking for a new job ( if you have concerns ). Like it was mentioned -- keep the radar up and running -- you'll see the writing on the wall. It's easier to look for another job when you have a job. I hate un-employment etc. myself.

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Not me and not that clear cut

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Nothing to lose

As the guy following said it's easier to get a job when you have one, though I'd amend that slightly to it's easier to get a better job when you have one.

Keep the radar spinning, it's the I'm indispensable, it won't happen to me types who get done up the back while their head is in the sand.

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Some thoughts about this

by TechExec2 In reply to Should I stay or should I ...

** Reality: You're about to lose something very significant and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it. Your relationship with the old company and the old company's owner was your greatest strength. You still have your skills and knowledge, but those are less powerful. And, your advanced age and advanced salary level is a definite negative.

** Golden parachute: If they are serious and honest about keeping you, they will have no problem including a generous "golden parachute" clause in your employment contract. If they let you go, they have to pay you a cash severance payment of 5 years' salary. After all, the clause will cost them nothing (unless they plan to let you go that is). Does this sound crazy? It shouldn't. Executives get deals like this, and much much better, all the time. Demand an honest relationship with the new owners. Demand that clause. If they refuse, you know exactly where you stand right now, and don't have to wait to find out a year from now. And, don't accept the "we don't do that sort of thing" response. That's a dishonest response. They can do anything they want to do.

** Full benefit vesting: You should be getting full benefit vesting in the new company carried over from the first day at the old company (pension plan, retiree health care, whatever).

** You are already starting over: The fact is, you are starting over because your greatest strength is being eliminated. Looking at it that way, being downgraded out of management is not the worst thing at all. If you want to stay in management, you may have to switch companies. Or, perhaps you can dazzle the executives at the new company and reestablish the same or better position of strength there.

Good luck!

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by Prefbid II In reply to Some thoughts about this

Your suggestion about a golden parachute is extremely overstated. Many, if not most, companies only offer parachutes to Senior Executives -- and some are not even offering those anymore. A lot depends on the size of the company. A 50 person company being bought out by a 100 person company is not in a position to be offering parachutes to anyone -- certainly not in the 5 year range.

Asking for a parachute is probably harmless, but threatening to leave without one is foolish unless you happen to know that your knowledge is the absolute key to the corporate success.

Aquiring companies have built in motivation to see as little technical turnover as possible. My experience has been (from the view of the buying company) is that 10% of the people will bail in the first 6 months based on a perceived threat. They are not usually the highest performers, but it is a pain to deal with. These people would have gone no matter what since they are jumping based on fear and not knowledge.

Another 10% will go within the next 6 months because they found better opportunities. These are people who started looking "since everything is up in the air anyway" and found a good deal. These are often the best the acquired comapny had and could have been prevented with a realistic incentive package.

After the first year attrition returns to normal. At some point you realize (around the 2 year mark) that you picked up some dead weight in the deal. These are the bottom 5-20%. These are the ones that you get rid of.

Timelines for these events change based on the profitability of the combined company. If one or both of the companies were bankruptcy candidates, speed up the timeline considerably. If the deal was actually a finacial disaster -- bail, because a bad acquisition will start random layoffs.

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by TechExec2 In reply to Overstated

"...Your suggestion about a golden parachute is extremely overstated. ... A 50 person company being bought out by a 100 person company is not in a position to be offering parachutes to anyone -- certainly not in the 5 year range..."

Let's make up some statistics about the size of the companies and then use it to criticize my advice. What an excellent straw man.

If "Jack-M" is as important to the old company as it appears ("hefty raise to stay", language, reading between the lines), he should not be bashful about seeking to establish a solid relationship of respect with the new company. He doesn't do that by meekly accepting what they offer. His greatest remaining position of strength is during negotiations with new company BEFORE he signs any contract. After he signs a contract, his power drops dramatically. If he really is special and the new company is honest about wanting to keep him for the long term, and not just to extract his knowledge and then dump him, they will accommodate things he asks for during negotiations, especially if they cost them nothing. If they are not accommodative, that will give him a clear message right now.

If he wants to get the best deal, he must ask for it.

"...but threatening to leave without one is foolish unless you happen to know that your knowledge is the absolute key to the corporate success..."

I never said "Jack-M" should "threaten to leave". Another straw man.

"...Many, if not most, companies only offer parachutes to Senior Executives -- and some are not even offering those anymore..."

"Jack-M" should not make decisions based on what "many" or "most" or "some" companies do. This varies widely and there are no set rules. Key people, key executives, key managers, and key senior staff, get great deals only when they know their position of strength and negotiate accordingly. I assumed "Jack-M" wants to achieve a great deal for himself and provided advice accordingly. If I thought he wanted to achieve mediocrity, I would not have taken the time to post any advice at all.

If you don't want a direct response...

If you don't want a direct response, then don't challenge someone else's advice and just offer your own directly.

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Too quick

by Jack-M In reply to Overgeneralized

The more I think about this the more I realize I was way too quick (and flattered)
to publish what sounded terrific at the time.
I'm now being a lot more cautious as the feeling I'm being used grows stronger.
This whol;e deal is moving quickly, perhaps at the present owner's urging. I have to just wait and see what happens and how they unfold.

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by MeYou-AND-Them In reply to Should I stay or should I ...

If I may offer my recommendations...

Change is constand in life....and we all must adapt with it...nothing last forever...especially in Technology lifespan..

With that said...

The new manager will be fighting the IT forces at hand...and the buying company will need your skills to successfully migrate your comapny into theirs...even if their intentions down the road are to omit, this will still be at least 6-12 months down the road ( maybe longer)...and will leave you some more time for thought.. If you do not accept the higher offer..they are still going to need you to consolodate...

Since you have stated you may be a senior may want to consider the $$$ depending....

Customer based increasing is a forcast....and forcasts and migrations/consolidations both have something in common.....they can fail...and since every company depends upon succesfull technology base...they are going to need you to make this happen..( at least until if/when they complete the consolidation)...

These are my thoughts and I hope they shed some light so you can make the most appropriate decision for yourself....

Best Regards

Keep your resume updated,,,skill sharp, and keep in good standing with your present peers and assiciates..
1.) Never become settled..technoology does not...and neither should you ....The IT industry ( corp America) has already shown us their intentions in the past as we are all numbers to the bean counters.

Speak with the owner and present the situation to him if you are in good standing..

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Tough choices

by mjd420nova In reply to Should I stay or should I ...

You made no mention of the benefits package involved but that has to weigh pretty heavily in the choice you make. Depending on the size of the company buying you out, they should at least be comparable. You won't really know what your eventual position will be for at least another six months if you do sign on, but I would feel that the papered person would get the senior job over a non-papered person, regardless of previous positions unless the other IT guy is an a$$kisser and brown nose, but you'll find that out in the first week. I give it a go and see what pans out before making any career moves. It can be pretty tough finding another position and the benefits again play more of a part for the older worker.

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