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October 23, 2023

Change management is one of the most crucial aspects of M&A. While integration involves multiple facets, from supply chains to customers, change management is solely focused on the employees. This can make or break a deal, as employee retention is one of the main ingredients to achieving synergies in a timely manner. In this article, Chris Evans, ex-Head of CorpDev Integration at Amazon, and Scott Boyd, former Head of Integration for AWS, discuss integration strategies, particularly the nuisances of change management. 

“Integration leaders can quickly lose sight of (change management) and be focused on whatever the fire of the day is. Having a dedicated change management resource partnered with your integration leader is absolutely essential.” - Scott Boyd

Dedicated Change Management Person

One common misconception is the assumption that change management is solely the responsibility of the HR team. While HR handles specific issues like pay or benefits, change management ensures the entire business and its partners adjust smoothly during transitions. This is why it's essential to hire a dedicated change management person to work with the integration leader. 

During the thick of the transaction, many team members will revert back to their old tasks, which end up sidelining the crucial aspects of cultural integration. Integration leaders can also be focused on solving problems daily. Hiring someone to spearhead change management during due diligence will truly be transformative. 

Common Challenges in Change Management

Change management itself is uncomfortable, which makes it challenging by nature. However, the biggest challenge is handling the acquired people during the transition. Many professionals make the mistake of treating them the same as new hires, causing miscommunications, and leading to employee attrition. 

Especially when it comes to the acquired CEO transitioning to a General Manager role. Often, the CEO struggles with the change in influence and responsibility of the new role. This adjustment takes time and needs much support from the integration team. 

Furthermore, most acquired people do not respect the integration team and resists any assistance offered to them. This not only delays integration, but also increases risks of things falling apart. 

Tips for Change Management

For change management to be successful, it has to be intentional and transparent. The change management team must set clear expectations to alleviate the employee’s concerns about job security, compensation, or work location shifts post-acquisition. 

Moreover, the change management approach should be comprehensive, touching on various aspects, from HR to job functions like development. The ability of change management teams to empathize and focus on effective communication methods enhances the overall integration process.

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