A Road Map for M&A Success

1. Due diligence and planning: Prior to a merger or acquisition, the human capital focus is all on leadership. Using talent analytics in the due diligence process lets decision-makers quantify the potential of senior managers objectively and predictively. And while companies typically only look one level down from the C-suite, talent analytics make it practical to investigate deeper layers of the organization. When the deal goes live, the transition team will be prepared to make key staffing decisions immediately based on science, not politics.

2. Initial integration: While the combined company focuses on a short list of “must-do” items, the human capital work expands organization-wide. Redundant positions will generally be found in a variety of support roles, and much more broadly if consolidation of production and logistics is required. Competency-based measures provide the data, and gap analysis provides the means to map the most capable talent to appropriate roles objectively, consistently and fairly.

3. Sales force consolidation: Sales organizations are often a special case. Competitors commonly share customers, who may believe their interests are not well-served by reducing competition.

Moreover, the competencies that can predict success in sales roles vary tremendously depending on the complexity and nature of the firm’s offerings. Fact-based assignment of account responsibilities will help preserve customer relationships, retain the best talent and drive a sales force transformation that may already be overdue.

4. Long-term commitment: Even well-planned deals can fail when leaders underestimate the time required. Success may require the patience and commitment to test, measure and refine the integration strategy over the long haul. It’s also worth noting that problems can occur when M&A activity stops happening. A company that’s growing rapidly may let its people more or less run free. When strategy or the landscape changes and the music stops, so does the growth. This may offer an opportunity to turn inward and focus on optimizing human capital company-wide.

5. Repetition: No organization gets everything right on the first try. Research has shown that developing a specific, repeatable M&A model over time is a key factor for consistent success. As a company continues to execute and refine the model, the path becomes well-established. Employee performance data, business metrics and customer satisfaction all inform and refine it. The techniques of talent optimization become more familiar, better focused and more effective. And as success breeds success, everyone becomes more informed and engaged.