Side Effect of mergers and acquisitions: bad managers

imagesKEY TAKEAWAY: Perhaps a fair balance statement should be added for all the pharma M&A that warns of side effects that bad managers are going to have on the new organization.

When two companies merge or when one is acquired by another there are a lot of logistics that need  to be implemented, but unfortunately one of the key initiatives that often fails is that bad/poor managers usually wiggle enough to stay employed while intelligent, hard work people are left to fight for their jobs.


There are “bad managers” in every company, but it has been my experience that they find a place to lay roots within the pharma tree.  Managers who made really bad decisions, resulting in fines, still manage to stay within healthcare and some even get promoted i.e. J&J’s CEO.  But I’m talking about the managers who just are really bad people managers.  They wordsmith presentations, micromanage, treat others with indignity and tell subordinates they have one day to produce slides for a major presentation resulting in late hours at the office.  Believe me, there are a lot of these people out there and they usually are great at finding umbrella’s during takeovers.


In my time at Lilly I was lucky to work for some really good managers who cared about my development and helped me navigate a corporate matrix environment, but as a consultant, I have seen people who are literally one step away from a nervous breakdown because their managers are horrible people.  I like to think they will be “found out” but somehow they survive and spring up again in other companies.

What can you do if you find that you are working for a bad manager?

(1) Document everything including personal conversations with follow up emails.

(2) Seek out the advice and mentors of other within the organization to learn more and find ways to ensure that others know that there is a poison pill within the company who can affect morale.

(3) Update your resume and get the hell out. Life is too short to deal with asses.

(4) Don’t go to HR, they work for your bad manager not you.

(5) Push back professionally. Don’t get angry, it’s just business and use a business case to push back.


Pharma has to weed out bad managers to survive and thrive, but they also need people who can say “this person in an ineffective manager and needs to be replaced”.