Want to know what goes on in an employee’s head when they hear that their company is involved in a major merger or acquisition? Well here goes – CEC’s parent, the Corporate Executive Board, has just announced its intention to make the biggest acquisition in its history.
For once, I’m the guinea pig for some of CEC’s work in the M&A space! Here’s what went through my head in the first moments when I found out about the deal:
- Is my job under threat?
- Are the jobs of my colleagues under threat?
- How will the deal affect my day-to-day responsibilities?
- Will there be opportunities for me to move to or progress within the newly acquired company?
CEC research would indicate that these questions are pretty much representative of employees everywhere, and what’s significant is that they exhibit our collective self interest. Of course we want to know the intent and the strategy behind a deal, but our first thoughts will inevitably be about ourselves and our colleagues.
In actuality, the responses we’ve had at CEC have been positive in every regard (thankfully!), and it’s an exciting time to be here. But in many cases – for instance if a deal relies upon cost synergies - there may well be fear and uncertainty among employees.
Now, Communications can be a key player in assuaging this doubt and enabling integration. But communicators I’ve spoken with indicate that they often aren’t brought into potential deals until late in the game and that managing this uncertainty can be challenging.
If your company is in acquisition mode, check out these tools from the CEC:
Stage 1: Pre-Close to Announcement
We’ve highlighted the Comms risks apparent in any deal. Use these to ensure that you get a seat at the table, and start your planning early! CEC members, use these resources to quickly:
- Get up to speed on the deal
- Provide a cultural lens to due diligence
- Create an M&A comms plan
Stage 2: Announcement to Close
Legal restrictions may well prevent full transparency to internal and external stakeholders. Whilst preparing for integration, it’s vital to ensure that uncertainty and doubt doesn’t impact performance and productivity in the near term. CEC members, use these resources to:
- Quickly assess the informational needs of key stakeholder groups
- Assess change management competence at your organization
- Enable line managers to hold dialogue with employees
Stage 3: Integration Management
Reports claim that anywhere from 50-90% of M&A deals fall short of the anticipated value created. With this in mind, integration management is vital – and this is where comms can really earn its crust. CEC members, use these resources to:
- Build understanding of the change for key stakeholder groups
- Enable managers to communicate details of the change
- Enable employees to translate the change into tangible actions
- Enable peer-to-peer connections and learning
- Listen to employees’ concerns to direct future communications
Have you recently worked on a merger or acquisition? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know what’s worked well for you!