Mergers and Acquisitions: Diversity and Career Management Considerations

Mergers and Acquisitions
It seems so often lately when talking to HR leaders in several companies about my career management and diversity consulting services, I am told, “we are all tied up in the middle of integrating a newly acquired company, can you call me back in six months?” And these mergers and acquisitions can come in all shapes and sizes, for example a mega-corporate merger like American Airlines and USAir, or a multi-company strategy like a medium size local bank buying four or five smaller banks. And just last week the US Federal Government approved Lenovo’s $2.3B acquisition of a line of servers from IBM. (Link to detailed Bloomberg article)

And then in this month’s (August 2014) SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) HR Magazine, the cover article was titled “Culture Clash! How to avoid a post-merger identity crisis.” (LINK) One statistic cited was that over 25% of US employees were affected by a merger or acquisition over the past 10 years.

So what is the value proposition for my consulting services within the growing reality of mergers and acquisitions? What impact is there on diversity and career development? A great deal!

First Diversity (link to my services): When two or more companies merge, they will more than likely have two very distinct cultures and probably very different ways of looking at diversity. The corporate commitment to diversity as a key strategy could be at different levels. The companies may have different ways of defining their diversity constituencies. One company may have more emphasis on developing women leaders while the other may be focused on racial minorities. One company may have very advanced practices about the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace while the other company may not have even started on that journey.
Diversity of Thought
When companies come together, this is an ideal opportunities to expand diversity horizons by including aspects from both parties. A team can always be made stronger when the tent is widened with more diverse parties coming to the table. And finally, merging companies can immediately tackle one of the hottest new emerging areas, Diversity of Thought. (Some expansion included in past blog – link.) When two companies have differing ways of developing plans and addressing issues, bringing multiple ideas to the table, listening to and honoring various approaches and then combining the best from the various sources will lead to a winning solution.

Second – Career Development (link to my offering.) It is unfortunately when some teams view themselves as winners or losers in acquisitions and good talent that feels undervalued departs. This is the time to honor the best talent from all parties in a merger or acquisition and build a diverse yet coherent team from the best of the best. When I deploy a Total Engagement Career Mapping project with a client that had experienced past mergers and acquisitions, I request they name role models in career development for me to feature from the various original parties. This widens the various examples of career paths I can demonstrate to younger employees, plus it values the leadership coming from various parts of the business.

I look forward to engaging my clients who have experienced mergers and acquisitions in a productive way to leverage the strengths from merged companies instead of it becoming a point of contention or distraction.

Leadership Advice from a Senior Lenovo Executive

Blog author Stan Kimer on the phone with a client discussing his career mapping methodology proudly from his Lenovo Laptop

Blog author Stan Kimer on the phone with a client discussing his career mapping methodology proudly from his Lenovo Laptop

A few times per year, I like to deviate from my expertise areas of diversity and career development and write about various events I attend that provide me general insight and inspiration. I especially enjoy hearing from successful senior leaders about their principles and advice in reaching their lofty leadership pinnacles. I attended such an event sponsored by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, “C-Suite Perspectives” with Jay Parker, President of North America for Lenovo, on February 26th.

Before delving into his principles for successful leadership, Jay provided an overview of Lenovo (link.) He shared that though Lenovo is not yet a household name like Apple, it is one of the fastest growing companies in North America in the technology sector, and provides smartphones and tablets as well as its better known Lenovo PC line. He shared that his goal as the Lenovo North American senior leader was to change this market recognition. Then after confessing what areas he was weak in as a leader, he shared his own critical success factors which can apply to any leader.

“C-Suite Perspectives” speaker Jay Parker, President of North America for Lenovo

“C-Suite Perspectives” speaker Jay Parker, President of North America for Lenovo

Jay shared three main themes with several points under each one:

1) There is a difference between a great performer and a potential leader. Good leaders:
• Know how to deal with ambiguity. They focus on solving problems and providing clear direction to their team.
• Communicate clearly, simply, effectively
• Are able to take charge, especially during difficult challenges
• Show strategic acumen

2) Good leaders effectively manage their organizations. Good leaders:
• Drive accountability and do not tolerate finger-pointing, especially when things are going poorly
• Have measurements that are aligned with responsibility
• Give people the freedom to both succeed and fail
• Recruit and select the very best people for their organization without rationalizing doing otherwise

3) Good leaders know how to manage themselves. They:
• Listen to others, realizing they are not always the smartest one in the room
• They are honest and candid, even when it is uncomfortable
• They achieve balance in their lives
• They enjoy themselves while facing the challenges of leadership

I appreciate all these words of wisdom from this successful leader, and look forward to the Raleigh Chamber’s next “C-Suite Perspectives” session on April 23 with Greg Scheu, president and CEO of global energy sector company ABB Inc. (Link for event info)

If you are in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area and would like more information on how you and your company can get involved with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce (link), including membership benefits, contact Kim Niskey, (919)-360-8665, [email protected]