Archive for the ‘Acquisition’ Category

This is an article written by Ed Robbins on Learning Paths Applications.

If you are or will be in the midst of a merger or acquisition and have read the research on how high the failure rate is for success you can take a sigh of relief.  One of the results of any major change especially a merger or acquisition, according to most studies, is about 70% or your workforce is going to either ignore or reject the change. 

One of the first indicators is the number of resumes that get updated and sent into the market.  Recruiters will tell you they get flooded with resumes when this type of change is announced. The other part of what makes integrations a challenge is that customers also start shopping.  They are concerned about losing service levels, product solutions they have purchased, and trusting relationships with their suppliers’ sales and service people. Smart companies have a plan to prevent this from happening. 

They also have a plan to transfer/share critical knowledge, skills, and best practices so that they leverage what they bought.  Most efforts to integrate acquisitions do not incorporate a planned process for engaging, retaining, and preparing the workforce and its leaders for immediate and future success.  In many cases it is a survival or recovery strategy and not a strategic initiative to position the organization for success in the future.

Many companies start with good intentions but then cut the plans short and start downsizing because they lose their patience or Wall Street puts on the pressure to show immediate results.  They also do not realize that similar integration initiatives that work for employees also work with customers and suppliers, so having the plan and patience with execution the  is critical for both short term an long term results.  It becomes a paradox because speed of execution gets better results but you need the patience to execute on the whole plan. 

Organizations start compromising the potential for success when they begin picking and choosing or piecemealing parts of the plan.It is challenging because the people you need to bring the organizations together are often the ones who have one foot out the door, they are concerned about whether they will have a future with the organization.  When you need them at their best they are often not focused and very nervous about their future which can result in poor judgment, high stress, conflict, and even disengagement.

Likewise with customers. What is needed is a strategic and tactical process that insures the new organizations has not only engaged and gained commitment of employees but has captured and retained the knowledge, skills, and best practices that are part of the investment. Learning Paths integrated with an employee engagement strategy, change leadership, and a listening strategy can attain the results needed for a successful integration. 

Over the last 20 years I have been involved in integrating acquisitions as an insider and as an outside consultant.  I have been involved with ones that have not worked and ones that have been extremely successful.  There is a formula for success.  This formula has critical elements and processes that include an integration methodology, cultural integration plans, a change management plan, empowered integration teams that includes a learning path team for key functions and jobs, an aggressive employee engagement strategy that includes coaching and retention tactics using things like “stay interviews”, one on ones, and listening strategies. We see integrations taking too long, almost never ending, and focusing only on the technical, department, and functional integration work then forgetting about the culture, people and process elements.  When they do not maintain a big picture focus they usually do not have a lot of success. 

Questions that need to be answered immediately and built into all the integration plans are why are doing this change, what do we want to preserve, what do we want to consolidate, what defines success of this change, how quickly can we complete this change, do we have the appropriate resources and have we dedicated the time and energy into insuring the success of the integration?

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