When I was talking to my daughter about writing about this topic, she asked me if I was familiar with a concept she recently learned in business school called Post Merger Syndrome (PMS). What an appropriate acronym. I had not heard about this, but I sure have lived through it. Generally, when I am writing about a topic, I tend to do some minor research on the subject, but only minor research, as I do not want to be significantly influenced by other people’s thinking on the topic.
Since I have worked at more than a dozen companies during my career, I have had the fortune of experiencing just about every aspect of the acquisition process. At one company I was at, I was on the executive team which was responsible for integrating acquired companies into the culture of the company. Since the company was on an acquisition spree, there were times I was working with 2-3 new companies and helping them to comfortably fold into being part of the acquiring company. As you might imagine, culture plays an enormous role in the success of blending companies, and I have written about the importance of having a strong company culture .
I’m often asked to comment on what is the most difficult aspect of the acquisition process. Hands down, I can tell you it is the post acquisition phase. Going through the acquisition phase is exhausting, and sometimes feels like it is never going to end, and often it does, but not because the acquisition went through, but because the acquisition did not come to fruition and go through the process successfully. There are so many factors which can stall out, or derail an acquisition, so the fact they do go through is sometimes just short of a small miracle.
Post any acquisition I have been through, there is both a huge sense of relieve, but also a sense of what I would refer to as a feeling like the air was let out of your balloon. Let’s face it, not everyone monetarily gains from going through the acquisition process, and yet there are many people who worked really long and arduous hours to make the deal happen. Then when the deal goes through, it’s back to reality, and going back to perhaps the flow of its just a job kind of feeling.
So, is it possible to either not experience a post acquisition hangover, or feel better post the acquisition than you did before the whole experience occurred? Sure it is, but there are some realities you need to be aware of to help you navigate through this. Here are my tips on how to either avoid your post acquisition hangover, or find the post acquisition remedy you might be looking for.
- Post the acquisition, make sure you make time to personally celebrate the accomplishment. I’m talking about doing this alone, and taking time to be retrospective about everything you just went through to be part of making this process happen.
- Doing a post mortem on the experience with the team involved with the acquisition process is critical. There are so many lessons which will be too easily forgotten or dismissed as lessons you learned, and which can help you to make the post acquisition process less taxing on you both mentally and physically.
- Mentally and physically you need to build in time to take time to wind down from the acquisition Too many people I have seen have made the mistake of not doing this, and they do not last too long after the acquisition takes place in either the role they played, or the new one they took on. If you utilize the analogy of exercising, think of how it is just as important to warm-up as it is to cool down. This is essentially the same concept. Skip one of these, and you know what can happen.
- Career and project based opportunities from the acquisition will be prevalent for those who are savvy enough to see them. Keep your eyes open for them, and don’t be shy about letting others know you want to leverage the opportunities which can work in your favor. Just be sure to clearly articulate how both parties can benefit from the opportunities you are capitalizing on.
- Get to know and understand the culture of the team you either acquired, or were acquired by. It is critical to do this early on in the process, and to integrate the teams together. Using another analogy, it is similar to how families are blended together during a marriage. It takes time, and you have to work at it, and often you will need external help to assist with this process. Don’t rule out bringing someone from the outside to help you navigate through this. It can really make a difference.
- Whatever you do, don’t become labeled as the chronic complainer who does not appear to be adjusting well to the acquisition. Adaptability and flexibility are going to be two of the greatest strengths to exhibit and possess post the acquisition. As the saying goes, become part of the solution.
- Being associated with the company you either acquired, or were acquired by may or may not be a long term or ideal match for either one of you. Literally make a simple pros and cons list, and you will quickly see which one is the winner. Ideally give yourself a few quarters for the dust to settle on the acquisition, and then go through the pros/cons exercise. The list may have dramatically changed, and should give you a better sense of whether remaining at the combined company is in your best interest.
I hope some of these tips will help you, and let me know if they do. Or, let me know if you need some additional ones to help you with your challenge. By the way, congratulations to all those on the “other side” of the acquisition experience.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.
Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.
If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at email@example.com or (339) 987-0195.