When companies merge, the "acquired" employees are often uneasy about their new boss and their own job security. The result: lost productivity and low morale. To avoid that pitfall, Bruce Mancinelli, CEO of VM Systems Group Inc., a $10-million software company in Vienna, Va., conducted welcome interviews to make the new people feel at home.

On the day VM's acquisition of a division of Systems Center Inc. was announced, Mancinelli met with each of that company's 14 employees. He listened to their concerns and offered them official letters of employment, promising them their current salary, the same or similar job responsibilities, and comparable benefits. Within a week, all accepted.

"It's one thing to buy assets, another to get people involved," he says. "We wanted them to feel like contributors from day one."