When companies merge, the sagas of those laid off are plentiful. But the difficulties the survivors face are seldom documented.

"We will keep the best from both teams," the official statements often read, but it invariably works out that the "best" come from the acquirer.

Those who keep their jobs feel sorry for their departed colleagues-many of whom they have known for years. Yet there is also elation about having "made the cut."

It is not all fun and games for the survivors, and many wait daily for the other shoe to drop, wondering: Will I be out on the street myself as the combining progresses?

In many ways the remaining employees share the customers' complaint: Banking as they have known it disappears after a takeover.

I address this topic because of a paper a student recently turned in.

I have students interview bankers. This involves learning enough about the person to ask decent questions, lining up the interview (the hardest part for shy students, but most important in my mind, as they must learn to cold-call for any job), and then conducting it and writing it up.

I am amazed how many bankers-including the heads of Chase and BankAmerica-have accommodated my students. And when I meet these bankers, they tell me how much fun it was to answer the students' off-the-wall questions.

I have never used this privileged material in my columns, as many bankers reveal confidential information.

But a student recently interviewed a retired teller and platform officer about being moved twice because of acquisitions, and that interview offers enough insights to merit summation.

The subject had loved her job, never had a bad loan, and recalled customers and employees from years ago.

Her complaints about a merger's aftermath:

New policies, new objectives, procedures, quotas, and job insecurity all created great stress.

Declining service-long lines with only two teller stations open-eroded her pride in her job.

She saw a two-class society, with the acquirer's people looking down on the acquiree's in branches taken over. Years of service meant nothing, as people in the acquired bank had to be trained in the acquirer's methods and were treated like newcomers.

Pressure to sell, sell, sell- including being assigned telemarketing quotas without formal training but with the knowledge that if they did not reach their quotas, their manager would not get his incentive pay for that period.

Her conclusion: "It does not make business sense to have unhappy employees dealing with your customers."

No one likes change, especially when a person has many years of experience and has won awards under the old system.

If top officers would interview merger survivors as my student did, they might garner ideas to help make the transition easier for all.

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