Last year, the value of global Mergers and Acquisition deals amounted to 2.8 trillion dollars. Globally that represented over 20,000 multi-industry mergers completed. Whether the transaction was to combine assets, share resources, access new technologies or markets, or purely reduce costs. Executed properly, as we know, mergers and acquisitions can be a fast way to grow.
Well, if you have an upcoming merger or you've just got underway, in a word…everything.
Maybe a merger is something new for you, or perhaps you've been through one before? The fact is, even with prior experience, mergers are never easy.
Mergers always bring change, even if your job, team, or business unit experience are not impacted directly. The changes may be as simple as a new company name or the addition of new products or services. Or, the changes may be more complex, such as requiring you to learn new skills or different work processes. And, sometimes, mergers require significant adjustments, such as a new job, in a new location, with people who may not necessarily do things the way you're accustomed to doing them.
Regardless of the degree of impact, one thing is for sure. Things will change - and whenever things change, it's natural to be nervous.
More than 50% of all mergers fail to deliver on stakeholder expectations. And when mergers fail, that can put everybody’s job at risk. Therefore, capturing the value of the deal requires you and everyone to give their very best. Here are ten areas you can focus on for management, your colleagues, customers and ultimately yourself.
Knowing what to expect at each of the four stages (Transition, Align, Perform and Improve) of a post-merger integration, will help reduce surprises and uncertainty. If you know what to expect, you'll feel more in control of your destiny.
When emotions are running high, some people tend to overreact. Other people reach a point where they emotionally shut down or temporarily withdraw from the situation. Neither of these are effective strategies to managing yourself through the merger. So, stay in touch with your emotions and closely monitor how they're impacting your behaviour. Do not let a display of negative emotion, or the temptation to run or hide, negatively impact your career progression.
Understanding the difference between organisational change and your personal transition is the first step in moving from the old way of doing things to the new. Get a grip on what's changing for you and what you need to do to manage yourself through your 'personal endings' and new beginnings.
4. Learn how to distinguish perception from reality
Part of what makes managing mergers so tricky is that everyone has a different view of reality. Work hard to understand management's perspective of the merger and align your perceptions with their reality. Constantly challenge your perceptions by asking yourself, "how might others perceive this?"
Mergers warp the organisation's communication channels. They introduce noise and distortion that can interfere with healthy communications. Your responsibility is to communicate in ways that minimise confusion. So, think before you speak and make sure that what you say provides solutions rather than more problems. Use communication to reconnect yourself to others, rather than allowing it to construct walls between you.
Get crystal clear about what you should be working on now and find out for what and to whom you are accountable. Mergers are no time for 'busywork', so make sure what you're doing today adds real value. There will be time to re-establish longer-term goals in the future but, for now, stay focused on what you're responsible for delivering in the short-term.
We all have customers; it doesn't matter whether they're internal or external. What does matter during the merger is that those customers have "ME" issues too. So, make sure you're working to resolve their "ME" issues, not exclusively focusing on managing your own.
Everything speeds up during a merger and, while speeding up, people often make mistakes. Management is particularly vulnerable because of the volume of decisions they have to make, often without all the information they need to make them. So, give them a break. Do not expect them to get everything right on the first pass. Be tolerant of management mistakes and others' mistakes because, chances are, you'll make some mistakes along the way too. This is a two-way street!
A common trap people fall into during mergers is to perceive every encounter with people from the merging organisation as an "Us/Them" battlefield, requiring people to choose sides. A more productive, and less stressful, approach is to come at every situation, understanding that different perspectives exist, that people's feelings are involved, and that all criticism has the potential to become a personal attack on someone else's identity. So, approach every interpersonal encounter with care and sensitivity. Listen for other's perspectives. Consider others' feelings. Most importantly, de-personalise the situation as you seek win-win solutions together. Minor conflicts can escalate quickly in merger environments, so do your best not to add to an already complex situation by thinking "Us" versus "Them."
It's easy to be pessimistic about mergers (no one likes change!). Almost anyone will listen to people who badmouth the decision or question how management is handling the implementation. But, what's the point? Do your colleagues (or external spectators) think they can reverse your merger? Are they hoping that it fails? The truth is, mergers, no matter how large or small, are 'big deals'! Once signed and sealed, everyone's duty (especially the owners and the senior team) is to make it a success! But, they can't do that without you! Therefore, a much better approach is to get on board with the change. Lean-in, learn and find the opportunities in abundance, and keep an optimistic attitude about the future.
It is understood the CEO and the senior team have an instrumental role towards ensuring the success of the deal. If a merger doesn't work (and we know that many don't), people problems are often cited as the fundamental root cause. If that's the case, then people solutions are also the reason for merger success. Make yourself part of your merger solution. It's the right thing to do for your organisation, your customers, and importantly, it's the right thing to do for yourself. Good luck!
The team at gloo have been involved in several international post-merger integrations. If you would like to connect and discuss how the team at gloo can help your merger succeed, then either subscribe below, contact us or feel free to email us at [email protected].
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