The Human Side of an Acquisition
In my line of work, I talk “big picture” about modeling acquisition outcomes and the pros and cons of stock swaps. But anyone who has worked in the M&A business long enough will be the first to say that we need to move toward a thought process that aligns strategic objectives with human performers. Especially in the AEC industry, in which the “asset” that we are really talking about in an acquisition is the people, we would all do well to remember the softer side of an acquisition.
No client I’ve ever spoken with seeks to acquire a firm in order to be merciless and cold. There is a recognition of talent, a passion to grow, and a mutual respect around the deal-making table. But how often does that extend to the folks down the chain? To the second-year architects? To the receptionist? The guy who just got hired last month?
Remember that only a handful of top brass is exposed to the details of the acquisition. Just a minuscule portion of firm leadership has shaken hands with the acquirer and feels comfortable that their people will be taken care of. For every other employee, when they hear that they are being acquired, they fear for their jobs and start packing up their offices. Take care of the human side of an acquisition, be enthusiastic about what you all can do together, consider your new staff to be your new teammates, and plan for a joint future. You will reap the rewards in a productive, loyal workforce.
For a great article on “The Human Factor” in surviving an acquisition, read David Wexler’s article here.