Jul 25, 2011

The Human reasons why M&As fail

Interesting study by Dennis and Michelle Reina who say M&As fail because "execs focus on the business and financial issues but not the human issues." Workers, as a result, lose trust in leadership and "withhold the very talent and energy needed for success." The Reinas spell out seven "trust busters," or failures of leadership, and how to avoid them. Highlights:

1. Failure to acknowledge what's happening

Acknowledge, preferably in a public way, that you know the merger hasn't been easy. Tune in to how people respond, and show them that their views matter. A little acknowledgment can go a long way in helping employees feel better.

2. Failure to hear people out

Provide employees with non-threatening environments to express their feelings so emotions don't go underground. Regular feedback sessions at all levels can help people reflect on what it will take to regain their confidence, commitment, and energy.

3. Failure to provide information

Make sure no one is moving ahead blindly. Help employees feel involved and in the know by sharing as much as information as possible.

4. Failure to put the situation into a larger context

Help workers see the bigger picture by sharing the business reasons behind the merger or acquisition -- why it's happening, what makes it the best course of action, and how the company will be better as a result.

5. Failure to take responsibility

Own up to your mistakes and, by creating a safe, open environment, help employees do the same. Acknowledge lessons learned and, as an organization, commit to concentrating on problem solving, not blaming.

6. Failure to help people move on

Challenge employees to buy into the company's future, starting with the new opportunities it can offer them. They may not soon forget the present perils and pitfalls, but they can choose to look forward rather than stay stuck in the past.

7. Failure to walk the talk

Successful M&As demand artful, authentic leadership, and that starts with consistently walking your talk. If your actions don't match the vision and values you claim for yourself and the company, your credibility as a leader is lost.

Have you worked in a post M&A organization? What do you think makes it work or not?
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