A Slow-Paced M&A Integration Is A High-Risk Strategy
The most common complaint employees have in the typical merger sounds like this:
“Nothing’s happening . . .
Why don’t they get on with it? . . .
They’re moving too slowly.”
Instinctively, the employees seem to know what’s best. Certainly they know what they want, and that is for top management to get the merger over and done with instead of letting it drag on and on. Employees need answers. They want closure. What they can’t stand is “not knowing,” and having to continue working in an atmosphere of uncertainty and destabilization.
A lengthy, slowly paced integration is a high-risk strategy. Such an approach exposes the organization for a longer period to the damage that can be done by generic organizational problems brought on by a merger.
It’s worth noting that approximately seven out of ten mergers are either disappointments or outright failures. And the average merger transition spans about twenty-four months, usually twice the time that should be allotted.
We feel one of the key predictors of a merger’s success or failure is the number of months it takes to move from start to finish—i.e., the length of the transition period. If there is to be a true merger, an actual consolidation of organizations, we typically push our clients to get it done within a nine to twelve month period. That alone dramatically raises the odds of merger success.
Frankly, you don’t have time to take your time. If you do, problems will outrun you and productivity will drop through the floor (taking employee morale with it). As the saying goes, “Skate fast over thin ice.”