Case: ‘How not to integrate…..’
A couple of months ago 2 Nordic companies merged or better: one took over the other. Both of them being important players in their global industry. By buying the somewhat smaller company the over taker hoped to achieve positive synergy effects on, a.o.: R&D, production, marketing, sales. (What over taker doesn’t?) Merging 2 companies or putting 2, or more, companies together is, in some ways, ‘relatively easy’. Be it from opting for one website, one logo, standard procedures etc. to adding all up the numbers in the different balance sheets. The Biggest Management Challenge For Far in these cases, however, is ‘merging’ the teams of the companies involved. In previous situations, in another era, in other circumstances and in other industries, more than once managers have failed in succeeding to team up their new company. Also in this case it appears that the newly appointed managers have failed in merging their team, at least they failed at their first attempt.
Both Nordic companies ‘possess’ very effective sales teams, both teams are for an important part responsible for the success of each company. But also, or perhaps because of that, both companies ‘own’ strong ego’s; both have strong cultures so to speak. So for getting to know one another, for getting to know the newly formed company and sales team, to make a start cooperating with one another, the complete sales force was invited to visit the new headquarters. Most of the guests did visit the impressive nature of the organizations home-country before but in this businesslike setting it was all new to them. The salesreps of the acquirer made up a program for their visitors. Most important goal: co-operating with one another in the most successful way. Not only co-operating during this ‘getting to coop – week’ but in weeks, months and years to come. And so Ultimately Being, in our industry, the World’s Best! Impressive goal, isn’t it? Now a few weeks after this introduction week one can conclude that it wasn’t a success at all, even worse: it appears to be a failure. What had happened? The acquirers wanted to make an impression on the sales team they acquired, in fact: on their new colleagues. Remember: also experienced and well equipped salesreps. The whole program carried as a ‘political’ main theme: ‘You guys (and girls) can learn a lot from us!’ Perhaps these who were overtaken could learn a lot about their new company, but the way in which this was carried out contributed to the failure.
2 examples: 1. – there were role plays, customers and salesreps. The ‘customers’ were salesreps from the acquiring company; the ‘sales representatives’, who were trying to sell a high volume machine, were ‘salesreps’ from the acquired company. Evaluation afterwards by the ‘customers’: the ‘salesreps’ did their job completely wrong! At least: ‘Not in a manner we’re used to!’. (Nb: So one could wonder why these salesreps were, until recently, even successful at all.) 2. – the R&D employees of the acquired company wanted to highlight their Best Product and wanted to demonstrate why this was The Best in the market! By trying to do so they compared their most successful product with the 2nd Best in the Market being, surprisingly, the most successful product of the acquired company. By trying to demonstrate this 2nd Best, soon it appeared that the ‘teachers’ didn’t read the manual and during their performance they wondered how to operate it at all. If it wasn’t for the help of their new colleagues, who of course knew their product, this show would have been cancelled and perhaps even now the demonstrators would still have been convinced that their machine was the best….. (Nb: because by comparing both ‘in action’ it appeared that theirs wasn’t….)
At the end of the Co-op Week the new colleagues left their new employer puzzled why their company was acquired at all? Even worse they were convinced they now had to co-operate with a number of nerds, so why even bother at all…….
I know that a second attempt will be made to make this take over as well as this co-operation a success. Still I wonder: what means are they going to use to restore and to make this a success?
I’m curious also because recent media messages show us that a next take over by this newly formed company seems to be only a matter of weeks…..