Mergers and Separations

Oh what a Happy Valentine’s Day post! But I’m talking about corporate separations–mergers that are unhappy from the get go and what it looks like when a separation–not a divorce, but a separation–happens. I’m in the middle of one right now and as the consulting entity, I have the pleasure of being no one’s friend and everyone’s potential enemy.

So, why do merged companies separate and what does it look like? In this instance, I think it looks a little like The Perfect Storm in that several key things have conspired to make both companies point the accusing finger at the other side and as any good psychologist knows, no marriage can survive that level of blame and resentment.

perfect storm

First, the business models don’t agree as much as originally thought; second the business climate takes a turn for the worse; third, all those little and big changes foisted on the smaller business by the larger have created sizeable internal distrust and resentment which all comes to the fore when the pressure gets turned up, as it does when business climates go south and revenues are not what they should be.

I don’t have any solution for this kind of situation except to try and keep everyone in the boat until the storm passes. Even if they aren’t speaking to each other, no on goes over until cooler minds prevail. How to accomplish this? Communication is key–don’t leave parties out of communication, even if it’s oh so tempting. Keep communication clear and to the point without editorializing. Don’t take the hook even if it seems logical–tomorrow you’ll look back and realize it was a trick.

All this is human nature and best interaction practices, of course, but incredibly difficult to maintain in the middle of high stress. It’s as if the molecules are just flying around and haven’t yet formed a cohesive whole–until such time, it’s best to avoid adding any more energy to the situation than is necessary.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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