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When the dust settles

M&As are usually exciting and hectic, but it is the following weeks and months that are both telling and trying. Matthieu Peleyras, HumanConcepts Partner and Manager (EMEA) explains.

Organisations face complex challenges including employee loyalty, product/team fusion, and business continuity, among others. How do companies maintain momentum and stay agile while undergoing major organisational change? It’s important for organisations to meld differing cultures while remaining united under the same business strategy. Using innovative organisational practices and state-of-the-art technology solutions, organisations are able to learn about each other, align the workforce to common organisational goals, and rapidly move toward those goals together as a team. Three specific strategies can be easily utilised in any organisation to increase cohesiveness in the midst of a merger or acquisition: visualising the workforce, planning and modelling organisational options and following a defined process for reorganisation, redeployment or separations.

Though cliché, putting a name to a face cannot be underestimated in a merger or acquisition. By providing access to a visual org chart showing hierarchies complete with employee photos, titles and contact information, employees can instantly connect to each other and understand each colleague’s role in the context of the organisation. The ability to see a picture of “that finance guy” or “the HR manager” is vital in bringing together two disparate organisations. It’s valuable for employees to know how they relate to each person or organisation, whether colleagues are halfway around the world or sitting right next to each other. By providing employees with access to organisational information, organisations demonstrate that their people matter. And in turn, employees recognise that they are working with living, breathing team members, not just names in an email signature.

The second strategy to incorporate is organisational planning. Once colleagues are connected on a working level, management can sit down and take stock of the organisation to determine how to structure the go-forward team. Consider the following questions: How many sales groups currently exist and should they be combined? Are there enough engineers in the new organisation? Could we reorganise the marketing groups to gain efficiency? Driving post-merger conversations with these questions serves to build strong, focused organisations. Using scenario planning techniques helps to guide decisions on the future combined organisation. Scenario planning provides visibility into the impact of proposed changes such as how changes will affect budgets, composite skills or compliance. If changes to the organisation or structure are made without visibility into the potential risks or consequences, it could spell disaster for the organisation.

Realising efficiencies is one of the first steps after a merger, but if the cost associated with losing key employees is not accounted for, the organisation could take a big hit. For example, merging sales teams and shedding sales roles may seem to be eliminating unnecessary positions. However, further analysis of this scenario may show plummeting sales revenues due to the release of high-performing sales representatives. With planning and modelling tools, organisations are able to make decisions based on a holistic understanding of the organisation and work towards the optimal organisational structure.

The third strategy that is critical for successful mergers or acquisitions is to have a clearly defined process for managing organisational change. Many organisations that go through mergers and acquisitions need to reorganise the business structure or, like the above example, reduce headcount. These changes can add further anxiety and disorder to the organisation. However, when organisations define and govern the processes around decision making, analysis and employee notifications, employees and management alike understand why, how, and when changes are happening. This enables the organisation to move through changes more quickly and get back to business as usual.

So what does an optimal process look like? Typically decision-making within an organisation involves multiple stakeholders, multiple data sets, and is based on incomplete information. If employee data has already been combined together to create the visual organisation chart we described earlier, the first step toward a defined process is already complete. Once data is consolidated either in a single system or through an aggregating technology, an organisation gains a platform on which to evaluate employees and make reorganisation, retention or separation decisions. When it comes to reorganisations, there are many moving parts, and complexity increases exponentially with the size and scope of change. Having a technology in place to manage the process around redeployment or voluntary and involuntary separations is truly invaluable to organisations. It ensures that all process steps are followed completely, documents all decisions, and manages communications with all stakeholders. Employees benefit from clear communication and equal treatment, and organisations benefit from documentation and audit trails that protect from legal and compliance risks.

Mergers and acquisitions are significant, but in today’s economy they are no longer one-off events. Many organisations are purchased or sold multiple times, and the activities that surround mergers and acquisitions should be treated as such by instituting defined processes for each event. Visualising the workforce, planning and modelling for the future, and instituting process and workflow for transition are all vital strategies for successful mergers and acquisitions. By utilising these tactics, organisations are able to stay agile despite major changes and can fulfill commitments to employees, customers, and stakeholders.

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