When the Take-over Takes Over - IEDP
  • Managing people

When the Take-over Takes Over

Get your team into the habit of thinking beyond tomorrow

Monday 03 September 2007


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Hey! Why are you reading this?

Let me guess. It’s the end of summer and you’re still in limbo. Face it, nothing, but nothing has happened in the last three months. No hiring, no firing, no sign-off on that personal development you need.

And all because your business, the one you’ve dedicated the last four years of your life to, is having a major mucho macho crisis and is bidding for your number one rival.

Merger mania has captured planet earth and ensnared your CEO in its writhing tentacles and you’ve found out what it really means. Yep, despite all the media hype, reality is a few minutes of euphoria followed by months of due diligence and total shutdown as every business plan goes on hold.

Ask your boss and he, or she, will mouth platitudes like, “we can’t move on this until we know if the merger is happening,” or “there’s no point in hiring, firing, re-assigning, promoting [tick the one that applies] as it will all change when the merger goes through.”

WHEN the merger goes through ? On today’s form that “when” should be quickly downgraded to a definite IF.

And you have now discovered the truth about take-overs: succeed or fail they stifle activity - totally. Succeed and you face months (even years) of uncertainly and reorganisation. Fail and you have just lost months of opportunity while everything was on hold.

However, you are a leader. Not THE leader, not the CEO, but you have your team, your division, your region to manage and motivate. Only problem, due to the inflated egos above you, you’re in limbo. You turn up each day knowing that not much is going to happen until Mr Big in the oak-panelled office gets a result.

So, is there anything you can do; anything to while away those inactive weeks and months while the number crunchers crunch and the legal eagles run up vast fees ?

Yes, there is and it breaks down into just two simple parts. Part one, YOUR TEAM. Part two, YOU.

Challenge them. Good leaders I know – confronted with the hiatus of a take-over – use the time to work on “what if” scenarios. None of these post-merger visions ever work out, but they do get your team into the habit of thinking beyond tomorrow.

Tell them. Keep your team as well informed as you can. This can be tough when few even know the right questions to ask. But honesty and openness are paramount for a leader. In the uncertainty of a take-over this increases ten-fold.

Rest them. Get them to take those days they haven’t spent. They’ll need to be fresh, fast and feisty in the coming months.

Strap them in. Whether it takes off or takes a dive, something big will happen. Make sure your team is ready to ride the practically vertical learning curve without spinning off at the first corner.

Finally, think about who will and who won’t make it, who’ll need help and who’ll need helping out of the door. Be ready to take the action to keep your group on track. That’s how good leaders get to be great leaders, knowing how, why, where and when to use the talents of their team.

And you ? There’s only one way to deal with a take-over. Realise from day one that you are now working in the corporate equivalent of a construction zone. Things will fall on you without warning. So, you can either be a victim and get hurt by flying debris, or you can get yourself a hard hat. By the time this thing is all over you’ll have gained a tremendous amount of experience – not the least in leading in a time of chaos. That will make you not just a better leader but a very valuable one too.

Who said take-overs are always bad news?

What’s your view or experience of leading amidst the chaos and confusion of a take-over; what would you do to ensure your own and your teams best chance of surviving merger mania ?



Management Centre Europe (MCE) is a leading provider of human capital and management development programmes for international companies and public organisations worldwide.

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