Culture’s Role in Ruining Acquisitions
Verizon announced on Monday that it would buy Yahoo’s operating businesses for $4.83 billion. Acquisitions almost always benefit the shareholders, but what about the employees? Many times it means the closing and combining of offices, the elimination or sell-off of lines of business, and headcount reductions.
In my three decades in Corporate America, I have worked for companies that have been acquired and have done the acquiring. The majority of these acquisitions failed and did not produce the results that either management team envisioned. The business world is littered with integrated companies that have lost value for shareholders. Why?
According to Deloitte, culture has emerged as one of the dominant barriers to effective integrations. In one study, culture was found to be the cause of 30 percent of failed integrations. Companies with different cultures find it difficult, if not often impossible, to make decisions quickly and operate effectively. My experience aligns with these findings. Many acquisition plans take into account things like the new go-to-market strategy, business development, customer satisfaction, financial goals, etc., but do not address culture – how we do things here.
Given that culture issues will not stop a proposed transaction, leaders must do everything in their power to stop culture from undermining success. Many leaders think that posters, screen savers, coffee mugs, and mouse pads that communicate the new union’s values will do the trick, but these things make little or no impact. What is a more effective solution?
Leaders must decide who the company is and what it stands for, and then walk and talk these attributes every day. Supervisors must hold employees accountable for living the behaviors. Employees must live the behaviors. It’s only though this alignment that you will build a culture that supports – not undermines – your new enterprise. It’s deliberate. It’s strategic. It’s effective.