In our last blog, HR’s Role in M&A: Building the Case for HR Involvement, we discussed why HR should contribute in the M&A process, and how to build a case for stronger HR involvement.
Though constructing a business case for HR involvement is the right thing to do to ensure the organization is covered, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your staff is equipped to do the job. HR leaders must be humble in their estimation of staff capabilities and seek help when needed to fill knowledge and experience gaps. Also, depending on the frequency with which you engage in these transactions, outside resources may be the best play. Regardless of who performs the activities, the following are must haves.
- Get Involved Early – Too often HR is only invited to play after the ink is dry. To be effective, the department needs to be involved in the due diligence process. Otherwise, you risk inheriting a set of circumstances that are at worst unwinnable or at best, fraught with challenges. Three months after signature is not the time to discover you have duplicative resources, dueling compensation models, and performance management criteria that are at odds.
- Prioritize Activities – In an effort to prove their value, some HR professionals will attempt to move quickly into the tangible, more tactical elements of the project, such as technology platform integration and benefits alignment. While critical, research suggests the organization is better served by focusing first on key staff retention, employee communication and top leader selection. While it may be harder to identify ROI indicators in these areas, the effort helps stabilize the organization and build trust among employees – prerequisites for resource intensive projects noted above.
- Manage By Metrics – Developing a robust scorecard for all phases of the transaction will not only help you measure ROI, it will create a defendable win state for the department. HR should work with counterparts in finance and legal to identify realistic synergy targets and then develop a robust project plan to ensure stage gates are in place to hit the mark.
- Prepare for the Long Haul – To the outside world, the transaction can appear to have a distinct start and end. Behind the scenes of course, the organization is planning for a major change initiative that really just begins once the deal is signed. Team members should be prepared to Sheppard a full-scale change management approach to integration planning that sees the project to conclusion. Too often leaders skimp on post deal resources, failing to extend support past the 100-day plan. This can cause the unraveling of hard fought gains.
In our next blog, we will review the importance of operational and organizational due diligence in M&A transactions.
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