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M&As Revisited: Nuggets for CHROs by Suzanne Elshult


At my HR Executive Forum last week two dozen CHROs and senior HR leaders spent some quality time discussing the ins and outs of M&As. I was surprised how much juice there was around this topic. Here are some of my takeways:

HR Seat at the Table.

  • If you are not invited, are you partnering up with executives that are? If your CFO, COO, Corporation Counsel is there, always show up to meetings together.
  • So you have a seat, but is it the seat you want? Are you there as a strategic or tactical player? Know what the differences are.

Expectations: Are you clear from the get-go? This journey will be good for some, not for everyone. Allow people to opt out.

Showing Up. Are you real? Are you authentic? Are you vulnerable and willing to admit you don’t have answers to all questions? Are you showing that you care about what employees are experiencing and feeling? Are you creating safe opportunities for them to share what makes sense or does not make sense to them about the transaction?

Your Lens. Are you aware of your own bias and perspective? Are you there to prove that the deal should or should not be done? Are you there to find ways to get things done or find reasons for why things cannot be done?

Dig Deep. Are you comparing apples to apples? A word describing a value in one culture can mean something very different in another culture. Be careful and dig deep.

Focus on Work. Are you explaining the strategy and directions to employees? If you don’t, can you realistically expect them to focus on work? Vacuums tend to fill up with negatives.

You Are Ahead. Are you owning the fact that you are probably six months ahead of employees on this journey?

The Plan. Do you think you have a fully baked plan? Think again. Each M & A is different and not static. Roll with the punches, overcommunicate with employees, even the fact that you do not have answers and that the plan is evolving. Ask yourself the difficult questions early and often. Who is the one person that can derail the plan? Who are the people you can leverage now and in the future? Do you know who you cannot afford to lose?

I cannot wait until our October meeting when we will tackle the topic of space design as a way to reinforce and create culture and teams. This group still rocks rocks after more than 20 years together!


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