Avoiding a Negative Impact on Employees After an Acquisition

Nicole Devine, PBO Advisory Group’s Consulting Chief People Officer, was invited by the Association of Corporate Growth to be a panelist at an August brown bag lunch presentation. The casual chat with ACG San Diego members was focused on how you evaluate two company cultures in a transaction. Specifically, the conversation focused on how employees can be impacted by a merger or acquisition and steps to be taken to avoid pitfalls regarding “people” (employee) issues that can arise.

Here are a few of the many good pieces of advice that Nicole shared:

  • Address people issues long before you start the process of selling or merging. You should bring in a C-level human resources consultant/fractional CPO to help strengthen the foundation of your company’s people strategy including culture, people policies, and processes. This will not only help you be better prepared, it will also make a business more attractive to a buyer, especially if the sale is focused on acquiring talent (vs. IP or products).
  • Once a potential deal is in the works, give your HR/CPO consultant(s) a long runway to get prepared. There will be enviable shortfalls, which upfront planning can help minimize. Now is the time to address how the two cultures will blend. Determine “who are we together” and how the culture will reflect this.
  • Have a plan to help employees process the news and put them on a path to success in the new company. The human condition always creeps into business, and this is no exception. Employees will be concerned with how this will affect their lives, families, and careers. This will distract from the corporate messaging that has been carefully crafted. Once the organization is ready to notify the staff, line managers should be among the first to know about an acquisition or merger. Set your managers up for success by preparing them with the information they need to answer questions and curtail rumors.
  • Change management is vital during the entire deal process. People will leave if what they have been promised doesn’t materialize. Leadership from both the old and new company, specialized consultants, fractional CPOs and CFOs, attorneys, and operations professionals should all be a part of the change management process. All levels and departments of the organization should be evaluated, problems addressed, and solutions developed.

To hear all of Nicole’s comments, a complete recording of the program is available here.

Nicole Devine
Consulting Chief People Officer
858-622-1681 Ext. 287