Culture is at the heart of post-merger integration
When deals present themselves in a competitive, fast-paced environment, it puts time pressure on closing the deal that can sometimes reduce the time to talk about certain things and to actually get to know each other.
One of the most important things to discuss is the organisational culture and the values that you will abide by.
Olga Blasco has been involved in many post-merger integrations and sees three potential scenarios for how companies align their values after the deal is done.
“One scenario is that the combined entity, after the transaction is completed, takes the culture of the buyer,” Olga says.
“This may be seen as imposing or steamrolling or one-sided, whatever you want to call it. And maybe it can create attrition, but it is the prerogative of the buyer to make this choice at the end of the day.
“The second option is that all cultures are allowed and they remain independent from one another.
“This could be valid for those entities that are kind of rolled up under an umbrella and basically it’s seen like different brands with different cultures and it creates a very rich environment, and diversity is seen like a plus, rather than a minus.
“The third scenario would be when a new culture is formed, taking from the buyer and from the seller.”
This third option is often considered the best-case scenario, when the two parties are aligned.
But this may not be the case from the outset and there may be some arm wrestling involved along the way to achieve that alignment, so there needs to be a comprehensive integration plan.
“Before a plan is formed, there are two pillars, and one of them is deciding if you need outside help,” Olga says.
“Because if you place all of this on the shoulders of the management team, sometimes it can be too much. Together with business as usual, it can be distracting.
“Sometimes you benefit from somebody coming in that is professional, specialised and knows how to do it. And it’s also keeping an impartial stance.
“So determining whether you need that help and how are you going to engage that party is one of these pillars.
“The second one is communication. Both parties need to communicate and manage what’s going to happen very well along the way.
“And communicate to clients, communicate to employees, communicate to vendors, communicate to all the stakeholders, because if there’s any confusion, any bit that remains unclear, it will generate debate. “It will generate discussions, uncertainty through the ranks, and you certainly don’t want that.”
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