Mergers and acquisitions are often fraught with challenges that can lead to miscommunication, fear, and a decline in productivity, creativity, and job security. If you have found yourself in the midst of rapid and unclear change within your organization, and unsure how to position yourself for growth, take a look at how Kathleen, an executive at a software company is handling the fears associated with a fairly recent acquisition… 

In the aftermath of the acquisition, layoffs ensued a few years later, triggering a wave of apprehension and fear in the workplace. Rather than succumbing to the prevailing atmosphere of dread, Kathleen adeptly used these turbulent times marked by layoffs and office closures to foster stronger bonds with her colleagues and enhance communication channels within her team. However, as time progressed, she encountered a growing challenge in resisting the pull of fear mongering. 

“It’s interesting,” Kathleen shared with me, “to watch myself become territorial about my team and my job.” Curious about the dynamics she is witnessing, I asked about the specifics of the situation. “It’s almost like we are all trying to position ourselves so that we are perceived as more valuable, and therefore less likely to lose our jobs as a result of additional layoffs. As a result, it’s easy to lose time and energy defending and protecting my work.” 

Curious, I asked her to elaborate on what actually happened. 

“I am responsible for a particular team,” she shared, “and a colleague of mine called a meeting with that team to handle a situation that I am responsible for, which irritated me.” 

Upon introspection and a broader contemplation of the situation, Kathleen arrived at a profound realization — her colleague might be unaware of her leadership role with the team. This epiphany, coupled with missing out on the opportunity for a promotion, which was given to another colleague, served as a stark wake-up call for Kathleen regarding her self-advocacy shortcomings. 

In a candid reflection, Kathleen acknowledged her tendency to downplay her accomplishments during annual reviews, neglecting to highlight her contributions and successes. This self-neglect has inadvertently left her achievements unrecognized, both internally and externally, hindering her career progression and personal growth. Sharing her newfound clarity, Kathleen expressed how this revelation spurred her into action, igniting a proactive journey towards articulating her responsibilities, celebrating her wins, and articulating her aspirations to pave the way for future advancement. 

Kathleen’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of assertiveness and self-advocacy throughout our careers. Her story illuminates the transformative power of introspection and proactive communication in navigating challenges, fostering growth, and charting a clear path towards professional development and recognition amidst uncertainty. 

Are you ready to get empowered in your career and set yourself up to seize growth opportunities? Take inspiration from Kathleen’s journey and start by reflecting on your own achievements and aspirations. Identify areas where you can point out and celebrate your contributions, amplify your voice, communicate your value, and proactively steer your career trajectory. Remember, proactive communication and self-advocacy are crucial in seizing opportunities for growth and recognition, especially in the face of uncertainty. 

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister has been facilitating communication that results in trust and connection for nearly 20 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit