5 Keys to the Human Factor of Mergers, Acquisitions & Reorgs

5 Keys to the Human Factor of Mergers, Acquisitions & Reorgs

We’ve seen it far too often: Articles and white papers citing common mistakes that negatively affect mergers & acquisition (M&A) transactions, and the most important factor is ignored – the human factor.

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

THE HUMAN FACTOR

There is a simple way to navigate the human equation of organizational change.

One of the most intense experiences for individuals is when their company completes a merger/acquisition or an internal reorg. Whether you are a founder, CEO, individual contributor, even an external consultant, the organizational change process is a big experience.

Consciousness can be your guide for everything – especially during reorgs.

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

5 TIPS TO GUIDE 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 working there experienced huge waves of emotion.

Some individuals had spent their careers at Merrill Lynch. 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. I witnessed a manager who actually told an employee, “Stop crying that our stock symbol MER is off the ticker; our doors are still open, and you have a job.”

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

Another example: The small start-up acquired by the bigger company. We all hope for the big payout someday, and when it happens, it is a cause for celebration. But even this celebratory event carries  some sadness with it – letting go of the way we operated in the start-up.

You can be sure that 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 your job or role? Leading as the founder of a 70-person company is way different from 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 and not in our mental narrative and/or story.

It is always important to be present, and during a reorg, it is even more important to notice if you are letting your ego take over. Whether you are with the company that is 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 combining two firms. The same applies to an internal reorganization of business functions.

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 any change, including mergers and acquisitions.

If there is 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 you may want. Also, there will be business decisions made during these transactions that you may not like, (e.g., work location, benefits and perks, company structure, role structure).

Rather than speculate with others through gossip, let your feelings flow – 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. Always Be Available to Learning

Reorg events create a huge amount of change, and they are a great opportunity to open up to learning. You can learn so much about yourself and how your role can evolve. Drop your egoic 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, reorg events bring out all of your unconscious patterns and cause you to question everything you know. It is necessary to cultivate compassion for yourself and everyone involved.

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.

***

Reorganizations 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.


For more on being present and conscious leadership, read my book Evolution Revolution, now available on Amazon.

“Presence is being with what is, exactly as it is, directly, clearly and fully inhabiting our experience. If we do this, we are aligned with reality, and the truth of who we are comes through. Presencing is the activity of being present. Runners run, artists paint, engineers code and conscious people presence.”