M&A: Surviving the Arranged Marriage

I haven’t blogged for 60 days. 60 days of which I was riding the M&A ‘arranged marriage’ roller coaster. I’m on the other side. And I made some mistakes.

The global M&A value in the first half of this year hit an eight-year high, second only to the all-time record set in 2007. And the US is especially hot with the value of M&A deals already surpassing $1 trillion. With those kinds of stats, many of us are going through the ‘arranged marriage’ transition.

Here's what I've learned. Applicable to both the acquirer and the acquired.
  1. Your reputation does not precede you. This is the hardest learning. You didn’t interview this company. And they didn’t interview you. The wins and credibility you have built in your current company and role means nothing. Your defined role and place in the hierarchy just blew up. It feels personal.
    • Coaching Moment: One of my colleagues coaches her team with the motto, “Everyday is an interview.” Wise words. This isn't the time to self-promote. This is a time to let your actions speak louder than your words. The same approach that led to your current successes and career trajectory apply. Don’t panic and...
  2. Ask questions and listen for 30 days. It's like when you take on a new team. What is the first part of a 30/60/90 plan? 1:1 learning sessions with each of your new direct reports and peers. The objective: learn the pain points of current processes and structure. What got the team successfully to this point? What is holding them back?
    • Coaching Moment: The announcement of an M&A provokes many dreams and aspirations. Write these down, ideate… and keep them to yourself. Right now your job is to get to know a new team and culture. You’re going to have to fight hard to put aside judgement. Stay away from the death spiral of negative water cooler talk. It only begets more negativity and takes away from your objective: listen and learn.
  3. Stay true to yourself. This is a great time to revisit your purpose (check out this app by Vic Strecher). What drives you to succeed in all aspects of your life? What have past and present colleagues told you your strengths are? 
    • Coaching Moment: Don't let ego and pride get in the way of the purpose that you passionately described in the interview that led you to your current role. Ask yourself: When in your career do you get the opportunity to figure out what's next with job security tied to retention hold backs or severance packages?
A wise mentor told me, "Newcomer, there is no bad outcome." You either create a new role and opportunity, obtain one you're not even thinking of yet or land in a new company and legacy for yourself. Enjoy the ride… No bad outcome.