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In making an acquisition or merger successful, skilled leadership matters. While the acquisition may have been a good one initially, serious mistakes affecting future viability and profitability are often made after the closing.

Consider these management leadership suggestions:

1. Do make it clear to your employees, including all levels of management, that they are not the conquering heroes of some conflict, but the lucky associates of a new entity that has been doing something right or has great potential for future profitability. To state the obvious, that company would not have been acquired if it were otherwise.

2. Do explain to your employees that a successful outcome depends to a great extent on showing empathy and respect toward the newly acquired workers. The winners are not there to divide up the spoils or lord it over the poor souls whom they just bought.Those souls can leave, and will, if they sense this. Mutual understanding and ease of communication is essential. And you cannot relax for a moment in your efforts to break down artificial barriers.

3. Do point out to your management that words have weight and that their choice of words is especially important in the early stages of integration. Never say nothing will change-because it always does.Clear, honest andconsistent messages are essential; perceptions are formed quickly and early. Despite this, of course, some new employees will inevitably try to read between the lines and wonder out loud what might have really been said.You need to respond promptly and forcefully to clarify any such misconceptions. Continuing to build trust and clearing the air of unfounded rumors will be managements everyday responsibility for some time after the actual closing.

4. Do recognize skilled employees in the new company and promote them to important positions in the merged company.You can learn from them. Some of your veteran employees may be upset by this, but you cannot afford to overlook any high-quality employee, regardless of where he or she may have originated.Your objective is to have the right people in the right places to enable the merged company to function both smoothly and profitably into the extended future.

5. Dont insist that the new company be a mirror image of your company. Altering visible elements of the acquired company too soon, or even at all, is a common mistake. Changing a name or brand in the interests of consistency often turns out to be a regrettable error.It is recognized that some degree of systems and personnel integration must be done, but dont throw out or discontinue the essentials that made the acquisition desirable in the first place.

6. Dont ask the acquired companys customers to change their operations to accommodate the way your company has always done business-unless such a change is absolutely essential.You may lose customers as a result, and what they were doing might have been better. Consider the possibility of becoming a more customer-friendly supplier by bending a little. It wont hurt.

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Business    Management    Market Topics    Mergers & Acquisitions