An Hr Manager's Guide to Mergers and Acquisitions

2380 Words Oct 30th, 2010 10 Pages
An HR Manager’s Guide to Mergers and Acquisitions by David Zatz, Ph.D., Toolpack Consulting Senior Consultant
Opportunities for HR
Mergers and acquisitions are often planned and executed based on perceived cost savings or market synergies; rarely are the “people” and cultural issues considered. Yet, it is the people who decide whether an acquisition or merger works. The opportunity for HR lies in the fact that customer and employee reactions determine whether the newly combined company will sink or swim.. If a convincing argument is made to senior leaders, HR may gain more power to increase the effectiveness of the organization, and may be able to mold the cultural changes instead of being pushed along by them.
Hazards for HR
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Some questions to ask the leaders, in person or via open-ended survey, are: * Are there viable alternatives to the merger (for example, greater integration with suppliers, partnership deals, keiretsu)? * Is there a communication strategy to keep employees and customers informed? * Are the cultures for the two organizations compatible? Is there a plan for merging the cultures? Will one be dominant, and, if so, how will people operating under the other culture be brought on board? * What are each organization’s key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? * What is each organization’s strategy? How will they be merged?
One way to get the answers to these questions is to have an outside agency speak with senior leaders, one at a time — or, if that is not possible, to have them circulate a brief confidential survey and present the results at a facilitated meeting. Difficult questions, for example whether there are alternatives to a merger, should be raised as early as possible.
The HR manager may need to raise the issue of culture - how people work, how they think, what they value, and, of some importance, how they view the other organization. If the acquired (or acquiring) organization is viewed with disdain, these issues must be addressed up front. Likewise, severe cultural differences must be

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