How EMBA program graduates manage mergers

February 16, 2018

Tricky to manage, but great for unlocking new opportunities

Picture of two puzzle pieces
Combining two businesses can be treacherous territory, with many obstacles to navigate. Photo © CC0 Licence

There are many reasons why two companies might decide to merge. For instance, one or both might have some flaw or difficulty that seems a long way from solving, but might be improved upon more quickly with the help of new people. Or, one side might just see an opportunity in acquiring a particular team or product from the other.

Whatever the underlying reason for a merger, the actual process of combining two businesses can be treacherous territory, with many economic and personal obstacles to navigate. Curious about how experienced and educated professionals go about managing this kind of delicate transition? Here's a look at what Executive MBA graduates are likely to do.

EMBA graduates promote early collaboration between the merging teams

Assuming a given merger involves two different teams of people joining each other under a unified umbrella, it's likely that there will be some sort of initial friction when the two teams join. The sales team from one company might have a different philosophy or approach than the sales team from the other, for example, leading to disagreement or a slowdown while these differences are reconciled.

One solution that EMBA program graduates can pursue is to encourage collaboration between merging teams as early into the process as possible. This need not be too strenuous or difficult of an undertaking. Running each other through previous processes, collaborating to come up with suggestions for a new, shared dynamic, and other tasks that are both productive and encourage intermingling can be effective ways to break the ice and get teams ready to perform. A merged business will live and die by the strengths and weaknesses of its newly made team, so making an effort to get everyone on the same page early is important.

A group working together
Getting new team members talking and collaborating early is essential to effective mergers.

They establish a clear, unified chain of command to facilitate decision-making

After the fine print is read through and the final signatures are added to the paperwork, the executive hierarchy should be clear on paper. However, that doesn't mean the chain of command will be as clear as you might think. A merger often involves some members of one or both teams assuming a lower position in the company hierarchy than they had held previously, but old habits (and pride) may be tough to shake. People assuming authority they shouldn't, or general confusion about who particular team members should report to, can muddy the waters, slow down progress, and possibly lead to conflict.

The management training that graduates of executive MBA courses  receive ensure that they are well prepared to handle the particulars of this kind of situation. Developing skill in personnel selection, incentivizing work, and managing conflict in the workplace can allow you to anticipate and prevent some of the key hierarchical issues that often arise through mergers.

A man talking in front of a group
Establishing and maintaining a clear hierarchy is an important part of keeping mergers smooth.

Graduates of business courses assess the data to chart a new course

The whole point of a merger is to abandon "business as usual" and start out toward something bigger, newer, or more exciting. This new trajectory doesn't necessarily need to be the immediate priority – it's entirely possible that some existing contracts or loose ends will need to be dealt with first. What is definite, though, is that there should be a clear plan in place for whatever teams will be transitioning to new undertakings.

Attend a top-ranked school like WU Executive Academy and you can gain a detailed understanding of how to make the successful, data-driven decisions conducive to long-term planning. Employing this ability when laying out a transition plan can help you ensure a seamless and productive process, with many great opportunities brought within reach much more quickly than might otherwise be possible.

Do you want to learn more about effective management in today's business world?

Complete executive business courses at WU Executive Academy!

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