Combining Cultures

This past week, Fiserv announced that it is acquiring CheckFree Corporation, the company I have worked for over the last few years. The news came as quite a shock to everyone I spoke to, though that doesn’t necessarily mean people fear the worst. It’s split pretty evenly between pessimists and optimists. I’m a pessimist, though only for good preparedness. That is, as I’ve been on both ends of acquisitions, I know some variations on what can happen to a company that’s acquired. So I’m pessimistic on this not because I think it’s the end of CheckFree and my job there, but because I think it valuable to envision some poor cases and then consider a plan for those cases. Having done that, I don’t feel any worry or stress about the worst cases. On the other hand, if everything is like management wants its employees to think – nothing changes, jobs are safe, no one will be asked to move – then I have nothing to plan for nor worry about. Either way, I feel that my future is taken care of.

The "Bo" HeadDid I ever tell you about the last company I worked for? I used to work for ConAgra Foods – the poultry division out of Duluth, GA. They were acquired by Pilgrim’s Pride out of Mt. Pleasant, TX. Shortly after the deal was said and done, we were told about how the two cultures would come together nicely and nothing would change. The president of Pilgrim’s Pride, Bo Pilgrim, came to the Duluth office to boost morale and exemplified the “combining cultures” by handing out “Good News for Modern Man” to each employee with a $20.00 bill inside. He also positioned a chaplain at each new location in the acquisition. The workforce at the former ConAgra Foods division was divided into multiple races and nationalities which made-up any number of religious preferences such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Atheism to name several. It seemed that Pilgrim’s Pride would have a simpler system of Baptist Christianity as the preferred religion within the combined companies. Previously, I had not known religion to be an attribute of my employment. Needless to say, I was not the only one feeling a bit unsettled about the new management.

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