Talent alignment is the key to a successful merger

In the business world, there’s nothing quite like the uncertainty born of a merger. Trying to blend two company cultures into one is a bit like mixing unknown chemicals in a beaker: The result could be a more potent chemical, a more diluted chemical — or an explosion!

As any chemist will tell you, it’s a bad idea to go in blind when mixing volatile substances. So, for business leaders and HR professionals tasked with helping to make a merger successful, the critical first step involves understanding what you are mixing. It’s not just products, books of business, and financial assets that are being merged, it’s people.

It is essential for business leaders to determine the new organizational state they want to achieve and then look at what they already have in terms of skills, expertise, and motivations in their people. From there, building a talent-alignment strategy and then matching it to the business strategy should provide a roadmap for a successful merger.

The people challenges

The people aspect of a merger is often the most challenging because cultures can clash and employees tend to be (understandably) protective of their existing responsibilities. It’s important to go in knowing that there will be individual and collective differences and to be prepared for the inevitable conflicts. Organizational changes that are pushed through too aggressively are unlikely to be effective, human nature being what it is. A little empathy for employees’ experiences and anxieties goes a long way toward preventing resentment and disengagement, so putting the right people in place for the transition is a smart bet.

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