When a company chooses to merge with another company or be acquired by it, the result often impacts the combined talent pool. People become rattled or inspired. Some move up, others are downgraded or shifted to diminished roles and positions and many leave. Regardless how the merger or acquisition is viewed, expect the talent pool to undergo change.
The question now is how to make that change positive and keep key talent.
For the HR or Talent manager, the challenge is how to manage the talent pool so that the best stay, the promising develop and the bad leave. Aside from that, the Talent manager must also have in place contingencies in case key talent depart. Take note, not everyone works for money or share the same level of loyalty to the company. Not in today’s workplace.
So whoever gets to be the Talent or HR manager of the remaining entity after the acquisition or merger needs to consider the following:
- Key and critical skills needed to make the surviving entity successful.
- Key and potential talent.
- Necessary training to transfer key skills to promising talent.
- Appropriate career paths to ensure key talent remain with the company.
- Compensation and rewards.
IDENTIFY KEY SKILLS NEEDED TO MAKE THE COMPANY SUCCESSFUL
Knowing why the company was acquired or merged isn’t enough to make the company successful. Sometimes the reason is because of present economics, like if the stock price happens to be low. That reason is not enough to sustain growth or maintain market position. The Talent manager therefore needs to know the surviving entity strengths and growth engines. Is it an innovative R&D, an extensive sales force, rapid development to production, creative development or efficient service delivery?
Then he needs to hone in on the specific skills that drive those strengths whether that is engineering, development, research analysis, advertising, project management etc.
Once those skills have been identified, the Talent manager can now focus on who holds those skills.
IDENTIFY KEY AND POTENTIAL TALENT
It is not efficient to think that all the key talent should be newly sourced. The good thing with mergers and acquisitions is that there is a more than adequate pool to source from. The key is to identify who holds key talent, not who is most senior or who has the best connections.
This is where the Talent manager earns his bread and butter.
He must not only identify who currently holds the key skill needed but also who has the most promising potential to hold that skill. That should be how the talent manager should classify the remaining talent pool: who possesses the skill, who has the most promising potential to hold that skill and who does not possess that skill. For example, the talent manager has identified that a key skill contributing to the company’s growth is strong project management. The next thing he should then focus on is knowing who the most successful project managers are, and then who are the most promising junior project managers before looking outside the company for key talent.
Why do you need to identify potential skilled talent?
- In order to have a reserve pool of talent in case further cuts are made or key talent suddenly leave.
- In order to maintain a pool of adequate reserve talent.
- In order to structure training and internship programs to ensure adequate skill transfer.
- In order to structure individual career paths to ensure continuous improvement of the talent pool.
- In order to structure future compensation ranges, bonuses and reward to motivate or hold key talent
IDENTIFY TRAINING, MENTORING AND SKILL TRANSFER PROGRAMS
It is not sufficient to source key skill talent from top caliber schools like MIT or Harvard, or from big name corporations like IBM, Tata or Deutsche Bank. They can be ordinary talent from internal pools identified as possessing potential skills. All they need then are adequate learning and development programs.
Again, it is not necessary to have big name learning and development providers like Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins or AAPM. What is needed is to have an adequate mentoring system and an in-house training class. Certified individuals within the company can be tapped as a resource instead of outsourcing to paid providers.
The mentoring or coaching programs can be a good way of motivating existing talent and provide an alternate career path. This is beneficial to both the individual and the company and has actually been an engine to sustain momentum and minimize churn.
Other skill transfer programs have been implemented and achieved a measure of success. Some examples of these are:
- Internal internships
- Employee exchange
- Special assignments
- Internal partnerships
It is up to the Talent manager to determine which programs work best for effective skill transfer. For example, to develop project managers, internal partnerships can be done to allow the potential trainee to learn skills in a practical application. This can then be followed up by special assignments to hone and sharpen the newly acquired skill. For administrative skill, internships are a good starting point followed by employee exchanges or special assignments.
IDENTIFY APPROPRIATE CAREER PATHS
Not everyone wants to be promoted. However, almost everyone wants a career. An appropriate career path is then a good motivator of growth and development. It also ensures that key skills remain with key personnel and is not lost in the promotion process.
LOOK INTO ADEQUATE COMPENSATION AND REWARDS
The Talent manager knows that he cannot keep throwing money to keep key talent. However, he can use compensation as a motivator especially if it is tied to performance rather than seniority.
Rewards, both monetary and non-monetary such as privileges and vacations are also a good motivator in keeping key talent. These especially work when they excite key personnel and are a good way of enhancing commitment and encouraging loyalty.
Change is to be expected and the Talent or JR manager should expect that following an acquisition or manager. He must therefore prepare his contingencies to ensure that key talent remain with the surviving entity and is not lost in the process.