Mordecai-Rigby-PunchiesIf you’re in the HR business, and more specifically the HR business of integrating people, there’s an interesting article offered by Monique Lewis (of mergermarket, the strangely uncapitalized company) in the online Forbes report, dated 3/12.

It’s probably no surprise to you to discover that companies are, by and large, rather sub-standard when it comes to the people-piece of the M&A process. When my boss started this firm in the 1974, that realization was the “blue ocean” he discovered. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, trust me, we’re the leaders in this field.

In the article, Shari Yocum of Tasman Consulting (see, I’m equal opportunity, they’re a competitor) mentions a list of the most common HR mistakes during the critical time of integration:

  1. Not being involved early enough
  2. Not understanding the employees’ needs and concerns
  3. Not involving the incoming leadership team
  4. Not working with the receiving business unit(s)
  5. Underestimating the time and amount of work acquisitions require

Hard to disagree with any of those, but I believe they are the sub-titles to a bigger issue that I’ll call “The HR Flinch.”

I’ve been there when the excrement hits the oscillator, and can attest first-hand to the moment Human Resources backs down from stressing the critical integration needs of the employees. When the deal is done, it’s natural for the “money” people to change their focus to the business at hand, most of which has to do with integrating products, facilities, and customers.

Using a point in Ms. Yocum’s list as a guide, I think most HR professionals do understand the employees’ needs and concerns; the challenge arrives when the focus of integration leadership is distracted. Can you, as a Human Resources leader, get their eyes back on the people?

Or, do you flinch?

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ movement. 

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