“Employees matter in every merger.
“Did you know that transition paralysis is a real phenomenon during a post-merger integration? You can let the perception of instability consume your employees or take them through a structured transition process.”
It is difficult for employees to stay focused when issues that affect them directly are not answered and addressed properly. Why leave it to chance, when you can manage the transition effectively?
Mergers and acquisitions are almost always decided on the strategic and financial fit between the companies involved.
The forgotten element in the equation is the human resources involved on both sides.
Human resource is the most critical component that plays a big role in the success or failure of the acquisition.
Every merger goes through a period of transition during which time employees of the acquired company go through a period of anxiety, frustration, and anger.
In some cases, this is true of the employees of the acquiring company as well. The instability, stress, and uncertainty that follows results in decreased employee engagement and productivity, increased churn and an overall unhealthy atmosphere that works contrary to the very purpose the acquisition happened in the first place.
The synergies that companies expect to achieve through a merger will be grossly underachieved or even totally lost if the human element is not addressed sufficiently.
While most companies provide support services for employees that lose jobs as a result of a merger, very few address the psychological needs of the employees who remain.
The survivor’s guilt, embarrassment, anger and the feeling of having been violated are all very real and need to be addressed effectively for the individual’s own well-being and as a result for the overall health and success of the merger and the merged corporation.
Employee Transition Management (ETM) acknowledges this fact and offers a structured solution to managing this turbulent period that lies between where you are today and where you hope the new merged, fully functional company should be.
Working closely with the key individuals responsible for the merger, ETM takes an employee-centric approach to addressing the concerns of the individual and the group addressing the overall need to look at the association in a positive light and encourage the need to immediately look for opportunities to help make the merger possible and play a larger role in the merged organization.
Helping see the big picture mindset is what ETM is all about.
The employees did not ask to be acquired. What’s in it for them in the acquisition?
It’s only natural that they are skeptical about the whole deal. Why not handle the skepticism and doubt with proper transition management techniques?
It’s easy to get caught up in the deal and forget the most important resource you are acquiring. “People”
Let them know you value the talent they bring to the table.
“What would you rather happen? Let employees turn to rumors for answers. Or manage the transition professionally, and answer their questions with thoughtful consideration?”
“Contrary to popular belief, everyone loves change. It is the loss of control that people don’t like.”
Same is true of the employees that get acquired also. Why not put them in control by using effective transition management?
“One of the big drivers in your decision making was the talent in the acquired company.”
Retain that talent by managing their transition carefully and reaping the best return on your investment.
“What are you doing about the single most turbulent issue that rocks any merger? Post-Merger Integration issues that impact employee engagement and productivity?”
Core to ETM is interventions. Interventions that assure employees of how the merger will unfold, what they can expect to happen, how to cope with the change process and how to thrive in the new organizational structure. While there are a number of layers and elements that need intervention, the four big ones that need addressing are Competence, Connection, Control and their Career.
Mergers and acquisitions bring in fresh questions about employee competence. This works both ways. Employees worried about having to acquire new skills in the light of the new operating environment and the organizational need to be mindful of the gap in the skill inventory. Identifying the skill gaps, devising a plan to fill the gap and communicating the plan to the employees will help alleviate any competence related frustration that both parties can have.
One of the first things employees are afraid that they will lose in a M&A is the personal connection with their manager, leader, peers and co-workers. The uncertainty that they could be reporting to someone new, taken completely out of their current eco-system is a scary proposition for many reasons. For one, they tend to lose the relationships and the goodwill they have take the time to build. More importantly, the frustration that they now have to prove themselves all over again to gain the same level of respect and credentials.
People like change. The part that no one likes is the feeling of not being in control of the change. When a merger is announced, employees lose control over the events that will make the change possible, where, and how they will end up in the new org. After all, the employees did not ask for the merger or acquisition. It was something that was thrust on them. So, from change happening to them, they now have to feel that the change is happening ‘for’ them which will make a big difference in how they perceive the change process and continue to retain their trust and engagement with the company.
Every employee is in it for his/her career growth. They joined the company because they saw a clear career growth for them. And because the values of the company and its promises resonated with their personal values. With a merger, these value systems get threatened and immediately cause them to doubt the future of their careers and growth. Some typical questions will be “Will I have still have my job in the new org?”, “How will I achieve the career growth that I expected to have in my company?”, “Will I be treated fairly in the new org by the new boss?”. Answering these and other potential, explicitly addressed and unaddressed questions will help avoid losing key talent from the company.
Joseph Prabhakar is a senior business leader with over 25 years of experience in multiple geographies and verticals. From automobiles to healthcare, real estate to payments, management consulting to fintech, Joseph has experience consulting and working for Fortune 50 companies across different cultures and economies. Joseph’s experience includes running mission critical operations, integrating acquisitions with legacy corporations, leading large teams across continents, growing businesses, building a nationwide franchise organization, liaising with government organizations and sharing his experience via teaching and speaking in universities and colleges.