Help, we’re acquiring a company! Now what?

No, Corporate Elements has not entered M&A mode. But this is a fairly common scenario when an executive team of a small to medium sized company “realize” they have been successful in their quest to acquire another entity. Most of the efforts up until this point has been focused on the financial side of the equation, combined with gathering business intelligence and building vital relations and buy-in from stakeholders.

Now the scary reality hits you – how do we make “them” part of “us”?

This is a defining moment – one where a number of things can begin to go “wrong.” Or it can mark a point where the foundation is laid for a successful outcome  – building synergies, expertise and human capital, increasing market share, or improving productivity and the bottom line. The stakes are high, and everyone’s eyes are on you, their leader. Here are ten things you can do to dramatically increase the odds of a good integration process:

  1. Be clear on what you want to accomplish, as outlined in your vision and strategic plan. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t have a comprehensive strategic plan for the coming one, three, and five year period. The number of companies that don’t have a plan that includes acquired entities is of course even higher. If you don’t have a working plan, you need to act fast.
  2. Be clear on what the existing and future strategic foundation is, i.e. your corporate mission and values. Be ready to express this in clear and simple terms, and to exemplify what the specific operational impact of key principles has in the various areas and levels of the organization.
  3. Assemble a truly great integration team. This needs to be the best of the best, representing every critical operational area, and they have to be able to commit for the duration of the integration period. Make sure the team members fully understand their mandate and operational goals, the resources they have available to them, the timeframe for accomplishing the defined KPIs, and the executive team/ steering committee’s role and responsibility in helping the team accomplish their mandate.
  4. Conduct a comparative culture analysis showing where the similarities and differences are greatest between your organization and the acquired entity. This may seem like a utopian goal to many, yet it is an invaluable tool and completely realistic if the professionals you select have the required foresight and experience.  The initial weeks of the post-merger integration will often seem chaotic and confusing, and having a model that provides guidance and helps you provide focus and prioritize your goals and resources will be extremely helpful.
  5. Brainstorm a clear and effective communication plan and get the commitment from all main stakeholders to stick to it throughout the integration process. Why can’t you  just “wing it”? Review any study of mergers and you will find that this is one of, if not the most important reason why integration processes derail. A poorly designed and executed communication plan will in many cases cause unnecessary delay and frustration, not to mention unforeseen cost. The worst case scenario is that it can threaten the integration process altogether.
  6. Know the critical work streams and tasks before setting foot in the door (or, have a “don’t get caught with your pants down” plan). Have a Day-1 readiness action plan that will secure smooth business transactions in critical areas. Know what you will need to have operational on day one and have a plan for how to make that happen before entering  the building. Focus solely on take-over day, align with key stakeholders onsite.
  7. Be ready to tell them who to turn to within your organization to get things done. Make a list with the names, contact information and detailed responsibilities of the people within your organization who have the role and authority to resolve issues and keep things flowing. Don’t give anyone any excuse for sitting on their hands instead of working because they don’t know who can get their computer or email up and running, or answer benefit questions regarding a dependent who is sick, or who can authorize the purchase of a new office chair because the old one broke.
  8. Be prepared that nobody is going to hear what you are saying, at least not during the initial time after you come onsite. People will be confused, stressed, and they may feel threatened or angry. They will not be ready to hear how the integration process will bring great things. But don’t be misled to think that communication is a waste of time, on the contrary. Be ready to over-communicate like you have never done before. Provide the same important information in as many ways you can – in person, in emails, on their intranet, in frequent briefings and town-hall meetings, by using posters or stickers, or by any other way you can imagine. Do what you can to fill any possible void where disinformation and rumors may find fertile ground. You will not be able to prevent the rumor mill, but frequent and persistent communication literally to the point where people get sick of listening to you will keep it to a minimum.
  9. Stay focused on item number one, your vision and plan for what you want to accomplish. Never lose sight of that, and resist the temptation to compromise or lower your expectations! Remember to use the managers and supervisors within the organization to spread the message and resolve issues. If you are effective in getting them to see your vision and understand their role in it, they will be are your greatest allies. Ignore them or treat them unfairly, and they will be your Achilles heal throughout the process.
  10. Be understanding and merciful towards all employees and managers during the stressful integration process, but hold everyone accountable for being adult human beings who are themselves responsible for building their new future. Be a good listener, but don’t allow negative behavior and opinions to fester. Maintain your authority and focus in a gentle, yet professional and effective manner.

Corporate Elements has the experience and expertise to be your partner and help guide your organization through the M&A process. This will allow you and your employees to focus more of your time and energy on making sure that the integration does not disrupt critical business operations  and existing customer relationships.

M&A RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES:

  • Comparative cultural assessment
  • Strategic planning
  • Mission, Vision, Values
  • M&A planning and project management
  • Leadership development
  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Performance management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Group facilitation
  • Investigation
  • Personality and professional assessments
  • Succession management
  • Learning and development systems and design
  • HRIS/Learning/Talent Management system implementation
  • Organizational Assessment
  • Lean/continuous improvement
  • RIF/Career transition

CORPORATE ELEMENTS WILL:

  1. ASSESS the current situation, the impact it has on the organization, and the desired outcome.
  2. DEVELOP a proposal for further action and work with you to determine reasonable and specific outcome measures.
  3. IMPLEMENT the course of action that was agreed upon
  4. SUCCEED in meeting or exceeding the outcome measures that were agreed upon.

OUR GUARANTEE:

The mission of Corporate Elements is to deliver quality products and services that optimize the performance, productivity and profitability of your organization. We guarantee that we will consistently meet or exceed your expectations and the outcomes we have developed together.

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