M&A is one of our three service pillars at Change2020. Our role, quite simply is to get the people stuff right.
A few learnings from our experience:
• Be at the table from day one – due diligence is not just about assets and finances, it is significantly about people. Specifically the risks or barriers surrounding industrial relations, the leadership team capability, the organisational culture, the accepted levels of performance, the people data around absenteeism, productivity levels, accrued leave and other; it is about understanding the talent and mindset of those you are going to acquire or merge with
• Prototype the new entity – create an environment where the M&A team or change team (ideally from both organisations) are working in a way which is aligned with future state, that might include using agile working methods, re-arranging the actual work space, demonstrating flexibility, creating new work routines etc
• Listen more than you speak – M&A’s create uncertainty, anxiety and often fear; by listening intently, observing, being curious, creating space and encouraging open and transparent conversations, you can learn an enormous amount. Communication when it is targeted at the key issues is significantly more effective than rolling out key messages or pre-designed FAQ’s (although both are important and useful, but targeted communications will always get a better result)
• Lead the change from behind – ensure the leaders( post M&A) are the ones who are up front and personal with the employees, they are leading the roadshow speaking from the heart with integrity (not overly scripted), they are fielding the questions, they are moving the workspaces and asking questions, they are highly visible (not sitting in an office), they are the ones gauging progress, listening, enquiring, empathising and delivering
Getting the people stuff right is not a luxury or nice-to-have when embarking on M&A activities; it is critical