KEY ELEMENTS OF LEADERSHIP INTEGRATION IN A MERGER-ACQUISITION

A merger-acquisition is such a delicate process, a majority of businesses don’t do it effectively. According to several studies, a staggering percentage of merger-acquisitions fail to meet their goals. One KPMG study reported that mergers fail 83 percent of the time, and a study by the Harvard Business Review showed the figure could be up to 90 percent. There can be many factors that play into this, but many times failure is due to culture incompatibility — which should be examined and evaluated beforehand and proactively managed and developed post-merger — and poor leadership execution.

This high failure rate was on the minds of KeyBank Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney, President Chris Gorman, who was charged with leading the overall merger-integration process, the entire executive team, and the Board of Directors of Key from the moment they contemplated its merger-acquisition of First Niagara Financial Group in 2015. Very early on they asked Brian Fishel, Senior Vice President and Chief Talent Officer of KeyBank in Cleveland, Ohio, to lay out a plan for bringing the cultures and leadership of the two companies together most efficiently and effectively. Right away, Fishel knew he needed to address his 4 E’s of success in leading individuals and teams: explicit, engrained, energizing, and enduring.

Not long after they posed the question, Fishel, with input from many of Key’s top executives, developed a robust game plan that complimented already planned line of business and market- specific integration, onboarding and training activities with an enterprise-driven series of education sessions for leaders from both organizations to attend so they could learn how to quickly and effectively work together. With support from Beth Mooney and senior leadership, the sessions were well attended and well received and paved the way for success.

HERE ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS AS TO HOW IT HAPPENED AND WHAT CAN BE LEARNED FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE:

1. ASSESS CURRENT CULTURE OF EACH ORGANIZATION

The idea here is that elegance is in simplicity. Assess where the employees of each organization are currently, and then use that information as a jumping off point for culture and integration training. Ask simple questions of both sides and then ask them to rate how everyone is doing. This is when you see what has been engrained in each side, so that you can see what leadership has carried through. This can help you lead going forward…