5 Keys to the Human Factor of Mergers and Acquisitions

We've seen it far too often... Articles and white papers site common mistakes that negatively affect mergers & acquisition (M&A) transactions. In all of these articles we have noticed the most important factor ignored:


As you'll see in just a second, if you follow our model there's a simple way to navigate the human equation of mergers and acquisition for success.

There is nothing more important to your organization than the human beings who make up the very fabric of your culture. 

One of the most intense experiences for individuals is when your company completes a merger or acquisition. Whether you are a founder, CEO, individual contributor, even an external consultant, the M&A process is a big experience.

Consciousness can be your guide for everything - especially during mergers and acquisitions.

Here are five tips to guide you as a leader, individual or organization.

5 Keys to the Human Factor of Mergers and Acquisitions

1. Acknowledge Emotions - Feelings will be flowing constantly.  Encourage people to be present with their emotions rather than putting a lid on this energy.

For example: I was at Merrill Lynch when the company was acquired by Bank of America. Even though the merger kept Merrill in business, many people experienced huge waves of emotion.

Some individuals had spent their careers at Merrill. When the stock symbol no longer existed, they experienced a lot of sadness, fear, and anger. Many people didn’t acknowledge their feelings and acted out, blaming the CEO, acting from their fear pattern, and snapping at each other.

Gossip ran loose like a pack of wild boars - eroding connection and creativity. Abby witnessed a manager who actually told an employee,

“Stop crying about the ticker – our doors are still open and you have a job."

While this fact was true, Merrill was fortunate to be in business, it was also true that people felt sad that the way Merrill was as a company would cease to exist.

Another example is the small start-up acquired by the bigger company. We all hope one day for the “big pay out” and this is cause for celebration.

Even this celebratory event carries with it some sadness: letting go of the way we operated in the start-up.

Things will change. 

The event carries anger: not everything in the terms of the deal was exactly as we wanted it.

The event carries fear: what will happen to my job or role?

Leading as the founder of a 70 person company is way different than leading the same group of 70 as part of a larger organization.

This is just a partial list of the emotions that are experienced.

Actionable Consciousness Practice: Let your emotions flow. Stay current with your energy and encourage others to do the same. Don’t bottle it up!


2. Be Present and Face Into the Truth of What Is - When we are present, we are in the current moment. We are not in our mental narrative and/or story.

It is always important to be present, and during an acquisition it is even more important to notice if you are letting your ego take over. Whether you are with the company acquiring or with the company that is being acquired, you need all of your cognition and agility to navigate the moving parts and tactics of combing two firms.

Presence equals leadership agility

When you act from a place of presence, rather than ego, you unlock your own potential and invite others to do the same. 

Actionable Consciousness Practice: Notice if you have drifted and your ego has taken hold, make sure you are breathing and shift back to presence.


3. Don't Gossip Ever - A very tempting time to gossip is during mergers and acquisitions. If you have some information you want to know, ask the direct question. 

At the same time, be mature and know that you will not have access to every piece of information that you may want. There are business decisions that are made during these transactions that you may not like, i.e. work location, benefits and perks, company structure, role structure.

Rather than speculating with others through gossip, let your feelings flow. This is a much healthier option that will enhance your productivity during a very stressful time.

It is truly your conscious choice to act professionally rather than spreading toxic gossip.

Actionable Consciousness Practice:Notice if you are gossiping and stop. Ask yourself, "What exactly do I want right now? How can I focus on my own role and potential?"

4. Be Available to Constantly Learn -  M&A events create a huge amount of change. It is a great opportunity to open up to learning.

You can learn so much about yourself and how your role can evolve. Drop your ego agenda and get excited about the possibility to learn.

Actionable Consciousness Practice: When you find your ego taking over and wanting to control anything, ask yourself, “What can I learn right now that will unleash more of my potential?”


5. Hold Everything Lightly and Cultivate Compassion -  As with any big experience, M&A events bring out all of your unconscious patterns and cause you to question everything you know. Cultivating compassion for yourself and everyone involved is key.

You will meet new people and get to navigate all of the different personal styles that exist with human beings.

Everyone is in their own experience and it's not personal!

Actionable Consciousness Practice:  When you find yourself getting way too serious and not able to laugh, take some deep breaths, lighten up, and be compassionate with yourself and others.

Mergers and acquisitions don't have to be riddled with ego and conflict. Follow these five keys and use the human factor of mergers and acquisitions to fuel your success.

What have you noticed in your experience with M&As? Call me, I'd love to connect!