Jennifer Fondrevay known as the ‘MA Whisperer’, is Andy Lopata’s guest on this week’s Connected Leadership Podcast. Jennifer outlines the stages employees may face during a merger including grief, putting a strain on relationships and uncertainty of the future. She emphasizes the importance of connecting with the frontliners, listening to employees and valuing and respecting their comments. Preparation for possible challenges, transparency, understanding the culture of the companies involved can all help to move towards consensus.
The environment post-merger/acquisition is largely a question of morale; involving competition, collaboration and ‘survivors guilt’.
“The payday is a lovely part. But don’t let that drive how you look for your partner, particularly if you want to leave a legacy worthwhile,” explains Jennifer Fondrevay. Jennifer has survived three major multibillion dollar acquisitions and is the author of Now What? A Survivor’s Guide for Thriving through Mergers and Acquisitions. In her conversation with Kiley Peters, she shares her tips for changing the narrative on mergers and acquisitions.
Mergers and acquisitions have a bad reputation, in part because statistics show that 70-90% of deals fail. However, it is important to still see a merger or acquisition as a viable growth strategy. This type of deal is not just about finances, but is really more similar to a marriage in that you really need to be very intentional about who you choose as a partner. It also helps to remember that when considering the valuation of your business, your people contribute value as well. From the very start, you should consider your communication strategy for how you will get your people on board with and even excited for the coming changes, otherwise you risk losing talent due to miscommunication.
People are typically wary of change and aversive to uncertainty. This is why even just the words ‘mergers and acquisitions’ often cause people to stress and worry for the future. When you are upfront and clear about your vision for the business and communicate the plan with your employees, they are more likely to rally around you and buy into your vision.
“Consider a merger or an acquisition as a viable growth strategy play.” (2:26-2:31 | Jennifer)
“The payday is a lovely part. But don’t let that drive how you look for your partner, particularly if you want to leave a legacy worthwhile.” (5:05-5:15 | Jennifer)
“If you’re thinking just financials and you haven’t thought about, ‘how am I going to explain this in a way that gets people really rallied around it and excited’, you’re going to lose some talent.” (7:31-7:41 | Jennifer)
“People ultimately embrace change and they understand that things have changed, but what they don’t like is prolonged uncertainty.” (8:22-8:29 | Jennifer)
“Start thinking about what that communications piece is when you’re thinking about the deal. Don’t wait until you’ve made the announcement.” (29:23-29:28 | Jennifer)
“Being crystal clear on your value is what helps you to embrace uncertainty.” (38:19-38:24 | Jennifer)
Jennifer joins Timothy Hughes on #TimTalk to dive into mergers and acquisitions and how you can survive if you get caught up in one.
In her book “Now What – A survivor’s guide for thriving through mergers and acquisitions” she talks about the fact that M&A happen, you can be going along nicely in your career and then you get hit with the change and upheaval that M&A provides. So, what will you do?
They also discuss the 5 stages of grief that people go through from denial to acceptance and the stages in between, and the post-M&A characters you will come across.
Jennifer and Noah Graff of Today’s Machining World talk about managing employees after an acquisition. Jennifer dives into the different employee types and advice for executives coming into an M&A deal.
Life sciences companies are built on innovation — and research shows that innovation takes trust, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas. Unfortunately, trust is often one of the first casualties of an M&A.
“A workforce can feel blindsided when a deal is announced, eroding trust and transparency in three mutually reinforcing ways: “our” company versus “their” company; the executive team versus frontline employees; [and] who stays versus who goes.”