At the end of the work day today, my VP came to Boss Lady's desk (where I had parked for an end of day recap) and said, "Well, it's done." He was speaking of course of THE MERGER. (Did you really think I would link you to the actual press release and tell you where I work?)
After saying this jubilantly, he high fived both BL and me and headed upstairs to pick up some paperwork he needed to sign.
BL and I sat quietly, still talking of some of the details of our events and communications that will finish out the week, while jointly absorbing the good, the bad, and the ugly from the first meeting we had held with the new integration team from the 'other' company.
After a few minutes, VP returned but with a little less bounce in his step. He came back to our huddle, grasping his papers, and said with a puzzled look, "I don't know...I almost feel like crying...or should I be celebrating?" BL quickly replied, "Celebrate! You worked hard for this."
Not long afterward, VP called me from his car. He was still in disbelief. Despite the fact that he and I have been working on this for more than a year, that we both believe it is the right choice for our firm, the reality feels...well...suddenly real.
Within moments of that call, BL stopped at my desk on her way out and told me that while writing an email to our integration manager, she had begun to cry. Suddenly she was feeling the evidence of the change in our fates. We are much smaller fish in a much larger pond now. We are no longer masters of our own domain - trusted to decide without questioning. We must report and wait for approvals that were never needed before. It is truly the end of an era.
Between us we have 65 years at this company. VP has 30, I have nearly 20 and BL has 15. We've grown up and grown old(er) in this place with these people. I believe a good percentage of these people will still be here at the end of the 2 year integration period...but undoubtedly some will not. And for those that remain, we may find ourselves working in different departments, different buildings, different states, different countries...
When I coached our CEO for his presentation to all staff tomorrow, I stressed, "At the end, please be sure to pause for BOTH REFLECTION AND CELEBRATION....we need to recognize our history before we jump into our future." I hope he heard me. Because watching those of us tonight who had known what was coming take what felt like a body blow from the actual final mind shift of the deal closing gives me just a small glimpse of where 1783 people will be tomorrow.
And, despite our best intentions, I don't think the barbecued ribs and lemonade in the parking lot or the day-glo orange beanie baby lizards (the new company logo), are really going to help. In fact, I predict some nasty things in the future for those lizards. They just scream voodoo doll.