Guest comment: How not to lose your job during a merger

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Want to survive a love-in (or hostile takeover) between two banks? Andrew Pullman, of HR consultancy People Risk Solutions, tells how not to get squeezed out.

Is it Barclays and ABN, or JPMorgan and Barclays? Or is it RBS, Santander, Fortis and ABN? Merger and takeover rumours never seem to be far from the headlines. But what does it actually mean for the foot soldier at any of those firms, and how can they avoid becoming a casualty ... and redundant?

In order to avoid being selected for redundancy, here are a few hints and tips:

· Make sure that your work continues to be of the highest standard. One criterion often used to determine redundancy is quality of work. Legally, managers have to objectively assess their teams when they are asked to nominate people for redundancy so they have to be clear about what criteria they are using.

· Don't deliberately wind up your manager. When managers are selecting employees for redundancy they will often take the opportunity to get rid of people who are troublemakers.

· Are you doing the right job? Again, managers will be looking at keeping the best part of a team together, and so if you do not fit well into the team - either because of skills or temperament - you could end up on the list. So make a realistic assessment of whether this is the right job for you.

· Talk to your manager. It is always more difficult for managers to select staff to leave if they have a good working relationship. Now is the time to make sure that you get on well.

However, redundancy could be the ideal opportunity for you to move on ... and, with luck, get a large cheque! Some people make careers out of regular redundancy moves in the City. So how can you get onto the list and be prepared?

· Volunteer. Sometimes firms offer staff the opportunity to put themselves forward for redundancy, but even if they do not it may be worth discussing the possibility with your manager. If the manager's job can be made easier he or she will be grateful - nobody likes to make reluctant people redundant.

· Start looking for a new job. It is always worth creating an insurance policy, so that if you do get made redundant you have a new job to move on to quickly.

· Discuss your future at the firm. Discuss your future knowing how valuable you are to your manager. By discussing your development you are also able to gauge the likelihood of being made redundant and can plan accordingly.

· Plan your exit. Don't wait to be tapped on the shoulder like a potential Joseph in the TV talent show. Think about the financial implications and options, including whether you will be able to get any gardening leave and spend time with your family. Always take outplacement support if it is offered - there will invariably be something useful you will get from it. If it is not offered, ask for it.

Redundancy does not have the stigma it once did; sometimes it is a great opportunity to move on or do something different. However, if you do want to stay working where you are, make sure you show how valuable you are as part of the team.

Good luck!

Andrew Pullman is a former head of capital markets HR at Dresdner Kleinwort, and the founder of HR consultancy People Risk Solutions.

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