There are many reasons to consider a merger or acquisition (M&A). Not only do they offer opportunities for financial and operational growth, but they can also help fill critical gaps in your business. As with any strategic decision, there are always challenges, but intimidating failure rates shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing a beneficial M&A. By addressing common team challenges from the get-go, you can mitigate risks and create a successful merger for employees, shareholders, and your new business partners.
Common Team Challenges with M&A’s
Pursuing a merger or acquisition requires an immense amount of planning on its own, but the real work comes during the transition into one team. The transition phase is the most telling stage of an M&A and where most businesses run into issues. Navigating the transition is rocky for even the most experienced leaders, but that doesn’t mean it can’t succeed. So let’s review some of the common challenges teams face during M&A integration.
Communication and Transparency
When you announce the merger or acquisition, it’s easy for non-C-suite level employees to feel left in the dark about big decisions. This can cause a noticeable drop in NPS scores and affect employee turnover. Poor communication or a culture not built on trust can exacerbate this issue.
Even if employees stick around, that doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. It’s not uncommon for employees and executives to struggle sorting through cultural differences between merging teams. Every company has its own culture with different communication styles, work/life balance expectations, meeting schedules, etc. These differences can make the transition more challenging as everyone adjusts to a new, agreed-upon culture.
Meshing Business Operations
Much like cultural differences, it’s tricky to establish new business operations—particularly for senior management and long-time employees. Everyone is used to their routines and processes. Not to mention, you may have many people doing similar tasks or ones that are no longer necessary. This can create bottlenecks and discrepancies or slow down turnaround times. It can also be a challenge if employees or senior management resist retraining or shifting roles.
Aligning the Vision, Mission, and Values
Arguably the most critical challenge you face in an M&A is realigning your vision, mission, and values. Good M&As contribute to the long-term vision and mission of both companies. However, if that’s not evident to everyone in the company, it can be difficult to re-establish a shared vision and mission. Likewise, merging with an organization that doesn’t share your values is another issue that creates real problems come transition time.
So, with so many potential pitfalls, how can you ensure you have a successful M&A?
It’s all in the preparation.
Preparing for a Successful M&A Transition
The key to a successful transition is to do a lot of the heavy lifting in advance of the M&A. The goal is to prevent pitfalls by addressing them before they become an issue. Here are a few ways to mitigate the problems during transition.
Align Your Goals With Your Core Values
Before you even begin looking for potential M&A partners, take a good look at your current mission, vision, and values to ensure they align with your M&A goals and objectives. Then, as you move into prospecting, stick with companies that align with those values and goals. A good partnership must start with a shared vision.
Prioritize Transparency and Build Trust
To avoid potential upset within companies, it’s important to establish a strong culture of trust. The best way to do this is to lead with transparency and empathy. If you are honest with your employees, they are more likely to be flexible during the transition and willing to work through any kinks. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should tell your employees everything all the time. It just means you keep them in the loop on the essential things.
All of this is easier if your new partners have a similar company culture built on trust. So when you’re prospecting, do your due diligence and find out about the company culture.
Be Open to Change
This may be a no-brainer, but you must have an open mind during the transition. Part of the benefit of merging with another organization is that there are so many opportunities to learn and grow as a leader and company. Don’t hesitate to try out new processes and absorb those that worked in the other company.
Stay Organized and Plan Ahead
A smooth transition requires you to stay organized and plan out the transition before implementing it. On the one hand, it’s critical to keep on top of the necessary legal paperwork in the beginning. But these organizational systems should also stick around to aid in the transition and set teams up for success.
Using Software to Realign Your Team
Work management software like Align helps you reinforce exceptional business habits across the board. With templated meeting structures and easy ways to flush out your priorities, you’ll have a leg up on M&A best practices.
Improve Communication with “Huddles”
Align has templates for various meeting structures, including 1:1s, Daily All Hands, 4D Meetings, Weekly Team Catch Ups, Monthly Target Reviews, and more. With these templates, it’s easy to hit the ground running—you can share agendas, notes, and critical KPIs with members. You can also set recurring meeting links, so team members are always in the know.
Flush Out Priorities with Tools and Templates
Align also offers a variety of tools to help you nail down your strategy and execution plans. You can
- capture the company’s mission, vision, and values with the One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP).
- Integrate several important strategic components into one coherent plan using the 7 Strata of Strategy.
- Outline employee responsibilities and KPIs with the Functional Accountability Chart.
- Gauge your team’s satisfaction rates and gather important anonymous feedback using the eNPS survey tool.
With the right tools and resources at your fingertips, you can overcome the challenges and create a prosperous M&A.
Learn more about Align’s strategic planning and execution software