I am a female executive in her mid-fifties who has just been told that our company has been sold and that the new owners intend to make some changes in the management and organizational structure. I have worked for this company for almost 20 years. What do I do?
Consider this process:
Meet the owners
Give the new owners an overview of your background and what you have done for the company. Highlight the significant changes and the gains that you have made for it. Indicate that you are recognized as a change agent and that you are interested in hearing about their plans for the company.
Where do I fit?
Do they see you playing a key role in the change process? What will that entail? If they indicate that they sincerely want you to be part of the company, then you need to negotiate your title, position and responsibilities as well as compensation and benefits.
Time to exit?
If you are not satisfied with what the new owners offer with respect to a new position and compensation package, or if they are less than enthusiastic or non-committal about your long-term role, then you need to plan an exit strategy.
Speak to a labour lawyer about drafting a severance: Ensure that you request a package that recognizes your years of service, current compensation level (including salary, bonuses, stock options and benefits), your age and employability. Make sure that you ask for outplacement support, including employment and financial counselling, coaching, and administrative support.
Take it to the owners
Meet with the owners as soon as you have decided what you want in your severance. Indicate that you are concerned about the company's new direction and that there does not appear to be an appropriate role for you. Point out that you have consulted a lawyer and that you have an agreement regarding a severance package that you would like them to sign. If they agree, get them to sign the document right away. If not, tell them that you would like them to sign the document and that your lawyer will be following up.
Start contacting your professional network and executive recruiters, indicating that you are interested in finding an executive position in another company. If you have not interviewed for a position for some time then considering hiring a career coach or counsellor who will help you develop a professional résumé, refine your job search, hone your interviewing and presentation skills and find an appropriate position.
Bruce Sandy is a career and leadership coach in Greater Vancouver - brucesandy.com.