Part 3: Emotional
When putting together a deal, the value of the future, combined business, is often imagined in spreadsheets. When you move to the integration phase, you are moving beyond the spreadsheet to working with people. People are the solutions (and the problems) in a successful acquisition integration.
People, like integrations, are complex, political, emotional, and very busy. Let’s consider the mindset of the people in an acquired business.
Surprise and shock at the announcement
When a deal is put together, there is a select few people that know about the deal. They have a vision of what the combined business will look in the future. The Deal Team are vested in the acquisition: it is their job to put together the transaction and deliver it.
To most employees, the first they hear of getting acquired is at the time of the announcement. They are surprised at hearing it and have concerns about the future.
Uncertainty about job security
Everybody hears about acquisitions resulting in people being let go, and they will fear that this is going to happen to them. However, it is the larger acquisitions that we hear about on television, that are more likely to let people go.
Small and mid-size businesses are acquired for their future potential, and that potential relies upon the skills, knowledge and relationships held by the employees. Most acquisitions of this size want the employees to remain with the business. Acquirers should have an employee retention plan to encourage them to stay.
Grieving the loss of the “old ways”, skepticism and resistance
Employees of an acquired business did not choose to be acquired; they chose to work for the previous company. Usually, the business was smaller and had a chemistry, charisma, culture that defined its identity. Now that they have been acquired, there will be a sense of impending loss for their culture, and a resistance to changes that cause this loss.
Foreboding about the changes and additional workload
People who have been through an acquisition integration will have experienced the turmoil and additional workload associated with merging all the operations, processes, and technologies together. It isn’t easy doing your Day Job, while being given the additional integration tasks. There is no denying that integrations cause change, and some people do not like change.
How to address charged emotions
Communication is the open secret solution to all these issues. Being authentic, honest, credible and realistic in what, when and how you communicate will give the acquired staff a chance to assess you and see if you are worthy of their loyalty.
When there is a strong or fragile culture that is essential to productivity, consider how you integrate. In such cases, I recommend the Keep Separate approach to integration.
For more help on addressing the charged emotions of acquired employees, culture differences and integration strategies, contact us soon.