No matter how much you focus on culture, you will never find two companies that identically align. This is why most people believe that culture is not a deal killer. However, Trish Mosconi, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer & Corporate Development at Synchrony, disagrees. This article talks about the importance of culture, why it can kill a deal, and how her team successfully integrates acquired businesses.
"You can always realign your business goals, objectives, and strategies for growth. But if you are fundamentally different from a cultural standpoint, it will never work. I don't think you can change individuals easily. It's always nature over nurture."- Trish Mosconi
According to Trish, culture is a critical part of an organization's identity. It's how people and employees perceive the company and will ultimately determine how they will achieve growth. For Synchrony, their culture revolves around being caring, inclusive, collaborative, transparent, mutually respectful, and diverse. A lack of any of these behaviors will not be tolerated.
As soon as the deal starts, they make sure the HR department is involved. Trish likes to partner with them in the diligence process because she understands that HR is a critical component in understanding the fit, the desires, and where the talent wants to go as they become a part of the larger organization. These are all an integral part of integration success.
The primary role of HR in the diligence process is to perform a people-fit assessment. This is where HR has conversations with everyone in the target company to see if they will fit the Synchrony culture and their expectations going forward. The goal is to fully align people before closing and to limit surprises going forward.
Because her team understands the importance of culture, they have walked away from an almost perfect deal due to cultural differences. They talked to a company that was the perfect size, location, and had enough foundation to build upon. But when they went to meet with the target's leadership team, they were so disrespectful that Synchrony walked away in less than two hours.
As a mother of twins, she is a firm believer in the concept of "nature over nurture." She doesn't believe that people will change quickly, and when you find an extremely opposite culture, it's best to walk away rather than do a bad deal.
When it comes to integration, the most challenging part is integrating the people and culture. The goal is to make the newly acquired people genuinely feel a part of the family while trying to achieve the deal's synergies.
At Synchrony, they want the employees to participate in management discussions and senior leadership meetings, which is why behaviors are extremely valuable to their organization.
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