‘Cultural Cringe.’ How to Avoid the Trap of Dysfunctional Mergers & Acquisitions

One of the key questions asked in the Mergers and Acquisitions process is “What’s the management like?” Organisational Culture Leaders on both sides of the transaction want to know who they’re merging with; what are their strengths and weaknesses; will they fit; who will get what job; and how will they work together?

Attitudes and Motivations – the Missing Ingredients in Management Assessment.

Often, a key missing ingredient during due diligence or those vital first weeks of integration, is the effective and objective assessment of the attitudes and motivations of both individual managers and the management team as whole. People decisions tend to be based on gut feeling, misinformed assumptions, negotiated trade-offs and expediency, instead of ensuring the right people are in the right roles to deliver what the company needs.

In the wrong roles, executives are set up to fail which ultimately costs the organisation a lot of money and adds to the distress of employees. We recently witnessed that a few years ago with the merger of a couple of major players in the communications arena, where one organisation was totally immersed in a people-centric culture filled with self development opportunities within an environment of fun and passion led from the top by example, and the other culture had a more ‘number crunching’ environment where personal accountability and ‘the bottom line’ ruled every major decision throughout the organisation. The result was a mismatch of cultures and the fallout was the mass exodus of quality people which the merged organisation could ill afford to lose. The new hybrid is still struggling to pick up lost ground in the marketplace and the minds of the customers which is the opposite of what the bean counters had predicted and the company leaders had hoped for.

“Motivational Fingerprinting”

With Precision Profiling it is now possible to predict with confidence, how an executive will be motivated to perform, behave and communicate in a specific work environment – throughout the transition and beyond. No two patterns of thinking and working are the same therefore each individual profile is unique, hence the description “Motivational Fingerprinting.” Motivational FingerprintingPrecision Profiling allows the organisation to take into account an individual’s natural preferences, value each person for their strengths and determine where they best fit.

Measurement of specific work related attitudes and motivations is arguably the most important and effective predictor of likely job performance. Precision Profiling looks at behavioural patterns including key operational factors, adaptation to change, motivational criteria, tasks/project approach, communication preferences and so on. How the patterns cluster together provides enormous insight into the ‘make-up’ of each individual and allows us to understand what drives someone to do what they do.

Potentially even more useful in an M&A situation, each individual’s profile can then be combined with the rest of the management team to provide a map of the underlying ‘group think’ that drives management decisions and actions and their likely impact on the merged culture.

Also available is a ‘paired comparison’ to see how two key people are likely to work together. Motivational drivers and thinking styles can be sorted into areas of most compatibility and least compatibility giving insights into those similarities and differences that will affect their working relationship. The heightened awareness and understanding gained through this process can also help solve personal conflicts often prevalent in the stressful post merger environment, resulting in a more harmonious and productive environment between partners, peers, managers and direct reports, executives and their assistants.

The insight provided through Precision Profiling is relevant across the whole HR spectrum, offering a means for improving engagement, effectiveness and performance and is particularly valuable when working through the integration process.

Benefits include:

  • Unique insight into the psyches of senior executives
  • Better understanding of the management culture
  • Objective information on which to base critical people decisions
  • Faster and more effective people and culture integration
  • Insight into how to motivate and engage the key people you want to retain
  • More effective use of talent
  • Identification of potential gaps or ‘blind spots’ within the target team
  • A tool for managing conflicts as they arise
  • Reduced incidence of wrong fit or ‘square pegs in round holes’
  • Early detection and re-direction of potential blockers
  • Less likelihood of unplanned and unwanted attrition
  • Greater depth of understanding of the individual and team dynamics at play at the senior executive level

Attitudes and MotivationsUsually a merger/acquisition starts out as financial proposition but once the deal is done it becomes a human transaction. Precision Profiling provides invaluable human insights that reduce the inherent costs, risks and stress associated with management integration and increases the chance of the transaction achieving the strategic goals set by management and owners.

Drop me an email to brian@precisionprofiling.com.au if you would like to know more about how to uncover the “group think” within your executive team or a target merger team.

Until then… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.   Have a great week – Brian


(This article was jointly written with the assistance of Linley Watson. Her company, Peak Performance International, is a strong advocate of the Precision Profiling methodology and application. Linley can be contacted by emailing linley@peakperformance.com.au )

Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick?  Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your staff.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

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