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March 20, 2023

Day one in M&A is a critical juncture for both the acquiring company and the target company. This is the day when the deal is officially closed and the two companies become one entity. Day one involves a lot of planning and coordination between the two companies to ensure a smooth transition. In this article, Chris Evans, former Head of CorpDev Integration at Amazon, discusses setting up M&A integration day one for success.

“Integration is rarely groundbreaking. It’s a lot of small improvements that add up to make a huge impact.” - Chris Evans

Ideally, day one is when everyone will know about the deal. Create a good first impression on the stakeholders, as it could dictate the future of the acquired business. A disastrous ‘day one’ could turn employees and customers off, and can destroy the value of the deal. 

Making day one successful

  1. Build camaraderie with the executives
    The night before, set up a social event with key leaders. Both sides must be comfortable with each other, and the employees must see trust and camaraderie between both parties. If the acquired employees see their leader trusts the acquirer, then it's easier for them to trust as well.

  2. Prepare the middle managers
    Middle managers are the ones that the employees trust the most. Employees will most likely be concerned if their managers find out about the deal at the same time as them. Bring the managers along the journey and prepare them with messages for day one. 
  1. Communicating the deal positively
    M&A can cause anxiety and fear among employees, especially regarding job security. Removing them should be top priority. This can be achieved through clear and concise communication that answers employees' questions and concerns. 

Sending out offer letters is also a great way to put people at ease. The more anxiety or uncertainty you can take away, the better.

  1. Explaining the integration north star

The integration north star is the vision of what the new organization aims to achieve. Communicating this vision is critical to aligning employees' efforts towards a common goal. 

This means explaining the strategic direction and how the integration will achieve the desired outcomes. Ensure that employees understand the purpose of the merger and how it aligns with the company's long-term goals.

Role of integration manager

The integration manager is the person responsible for a successful integration. However, there is not a single thing that can make or break an integration. It is the integration manager’s responsibility to incrementally help the deal every step of the way, which adds up to a huge impact in the end. The integration manager is the first point of contact for the acquired people when they have any questions or issues during integration. 

Biggest challenge on day one

During this crucial day, there will always be surprises. Unexpected problems always come up and the integration manager must have the time and energy to deal with those things.. Everyone involved must already know the communication plan, the schedule, and their roles, because the integration manager will be busy putting out fires during the day.

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