Most mergers fail because the newly constructed management team has been put in no position to actually lead. Can the pitfalls faced by merged teams be avoided, and the opportunities seized? Here are six guidelines for setting up new management to succeed.
Despite research showing that mergers and acquisitions rarely provide significant shareholder value, there is no sign of any slowing in the trend toward M&A. One of the major reasons why M&A tend, to fail, argue the authors, is that the process often puts extreme stress on senior management teams. By nature, the process is an adversarial one, with management on both sides advocating for their stakeholders. When the dust clears at the end of the process, management is left, as the authors say, “to navigate the challenging segue from ‘tough negotiator’ to ‘trusted colleague.’ “
The authors draw on the experience of Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, General Electric and Adobe to propose six guidelines for improving relations between the senior management teams of both sides of the M&A equation. The first three guidelines should be undertaken as soon as possible in the integration process. The authors advise that you can reduce the defection of talented personnel by reducing role ambiguity as quickly as possible. They also urge due diligence about the talent you are acquiring as early in the process as possible, and preferably before the deal is finished. Third, they recommend allowing some “habits to die hard.” Employees often rely on habits and long-standing procedures to remain comfortable, and many of them are what made the company successful in the first place.
As the integration process continues, there are three more important guidelines to follow. First, acquirers should not tolerate “bad behavior” that can sabotage the integration process. Second, it is important to have patience with the new management team, as many of them will be in unfamiliar roles. Finally, the authors suggest that it is important to remember to celebrate the value of the deal for all involved. By trumpeting the value of the new team, you can increase communication and trust. Ultimately, this trust may lead to increased shareholder value for all involved.