So you have been acquired....

The buying and selling of brands and companies is a fairly regular part of doing business in the consumer products industry.  But being the acquired can be incredibly stressful, and inevitably your team will start to worry. Are mass role eliminations in the cards? Will everyone have to relocate? What will happen to the company culture/benefits/payscale/etc?

In many cases the deal announcement comes well before anything actually happens. Many mergers & acquisitions need to run a gauntlet of regulatory review, shareholder approval, and other processes before any changes start to take shape. And while it isn't necessarily fun to consider, the reality is that these transactions can be a great opportunity and a great risk, your team has a lot riding on the outcomes. Here are some tips to use that time constructively if your consumer affairs organization is facing the process of being acquired!

  1. Stay Under Control:  There is almost always a lag between a deal announcement and the start of 'coming together.' In this period there are generally some very specific guidelines for communicating (or not) with the other company. While consumer affairs may be much better networked than say, the Legal department, through such organizations as SOCAP - it is absolutely a good idea to stay within the letter of the guidelines, and remind your suppliers to do the same.
  2. Ensure your Organization is Clear: In most cases when organizations come together the question 'what does this mean for my job?' is foremost on everyone's mind. The period between announcement and 'engagement' is a great time be sure that you are ready to put your best foot forward as an organization. Do you have a current org chart? Role descriptions? Are they written down in a way that reflects what people really do? Eventually you will be asked for the documents, are they in a form that you will be comfortable sending them?
  3. What is your Strategy?: In addition to the organizations coming together, the mission and strategy may need to be amended in light of the new, combined business. If you haven't written your strategy down along with the measures to show how you have been progressing and the eventual goals, this is a great time to ensure that you have this clearly articulated.
  4. Gather your Data: Service levels. Cost per contact. CSAT. Contact volumes by channel, brand, issue type. Now is the time to get all of the data you can close at hand. You will certainly need it and having it readily available sends an important message.
  5. Be Thoughtful in your Presentation: Now that you have all of this documentation together, how does it look? You can have absolutely brilliant strategic thinking documented in an unformatted spreadsheet, but appearances count. 
  6. Get Ready to Talk Money!: Nearly all acquisitions and mergers include some 'cost synergy effect' where consultants or investment bankers have calculated how much less it will cost to run the combined, larger organization. You can expect that whatever bigger organization you are part of will be assigned a portion of this savings target and tasked with bringing back a plan. So you want to be prepared for this process (in fact, given a chance it is worth insisting on - it seems much better to have some role in deciding your fate). You may have flexibility in what choices are made, and even how much you are expected to contribute. Start brainstorming cost savings ideas and choices immediately.
  7. Stay Calm, Embrace the Future!: This is obviously a time of uncertainty and change can be intimidating. Now is a great time to take into consideration some advice from Stephen Covey - focus on making a difference in the things you can influence rather than worrying about things that are outside of your control. That attitude can be infectious and a great help to all of your coworkers!

Have you been acquired? If you have some other tips drop me a line and I will add to this list!

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Topics: strategy, mergers