Navigating the Unseen Challenges of Post-M&A Integration for C-Suite Executives
If you are riding the roller coaster of merger and acquisition integration, it is tempting to buckle up and keep your head down. You won't be alone in believing (hoping?) that if you work hard enough for long enough, there will be a diagram that makes it all make sense.
The secret to success in the C-Suite is understanding that despite the same title, the same salary and even the same seat to sit in every day, you have taken on a new role. Even if nothing has changed, the world around you has.
Understanding this period as a period of onboarding will help you avoid pitfalls and saboteurs.
In this article, we'll explore three often unseen challenges that can make or break your career in your new organisation: lack of awareness, time, and ownership.
Lack of Awareness: The Cultural Clash Barrier
In the aftermath of an M&A, you may not fully recognise how your role has changed. You may believe your role is BAU and everyone else is a newcomer.
"It's for them to get used to how we do things around here."
Working in closed rooms to produce beautiful and complex charts, presentations, and diagrams neglects the most important factor in M&A success—your talent.
Invest in understanding the culture of the legacy organisation and where there is the potential for uncomfortable clashes. This will help you to adjust your communication and leadership style just enough to remain effective.
Lack of Time: Balancing New Responsibilities with Existing Workloads
Unlike newly appointed leaders who enjoy the luxury of gradually acclimating to their roles, established C-Suite executives are already burdened with a full workload.
As a senior leader, you are likely already in the middle of critical projects and initiatives; you simply do not have the capacity for a structured integration process. Yet when integration is slow or delayed, perceptions of competence can form quickly and are difficult to change.
Create space and prioritise making a great first impression. Bringing in specialist support to manage the process and minimise risk can temporarily increase capacity where it is most needed.
You shouldn't cut corners when it comes to your reputation.
Lack of Ownership: Navigating Political Dynamics
The post-M&A integration process is political AF.
Where, when, how, and why colleagues meet is observed and analysed by those looking for clues on how to get ahead. Leaving these meetings to chance can lead to missed opportunities or even negative consequences, as savvy executives realise how to use others as political pawns.
Take ownership of your integration process by creating a relationship-building strategy. This strategy should foster trust, collaboration, and communication with internal and external stakeholders.
It should also include a communication plan for broadcasting updates and personality to those who won't be able to meet in person for some time.
People are going to talk about you, it's within your power to shape what they say.