The number of mergers and acquisitions in North America has risen slowly over the past decade. The Institute of Mergers, Acquisition and Alliances (IMAA) recorded 12,000 in 2009 and 15,000 in 2019.
While you need to understand the math before making a move, soft skills are as essential as facts. A deal that looks good on paper could fail miserably if you lack compatibility.
Talking and listening are key to a successful merger or acquisition
Let’s say your number crunchers say the deal is a sure-fire success. They produce data to show joining forces will triple your current combined income. Then you meet the bosses of the other company, and you hate each other. Would you still go ahead?
The numbers do not tell the whole story about a company and its people. For that, you need to talk to them. Not just to the owners, but to their employees, as unless you plan to fire them all, your success will depend on them.
- Listen to their concerns: An employee’s primary concern when faced with a potential merger or acquisition is not how successful the company will be but whether they will still have a job. You may have to cut staff, so you need to allay people’s fears without making false promises.
- Understand how their vision and culture differ: The other company’s employees may have the skills you need, but they may not have the attitude you need. For example, your company culture prioritizes families and a healthy life-work balance. The other company still believes that greed is good and needing time off is a sign of weakness. Teaching new skills is easy, changing people’s beliefs is hard.
Due diligence in all areas is crucial when considering a merger or acquisition. Do not be afraid to seek help, and remember, investing the time now can save legal and financial problems later.