“When you walk into the deal knowing how you want to use the assets, the rest of the diligence process is just you figuring out if your assumptions and hypothesis are correct. And if they’re correct, then you’ve already made the plan, so executing that plan should be relatively straight forward. You close the deal, you rip off any band-aids that need to be ripped off, and you run.”
Those words of advice come from Jeremie Bacon, a long-time Chicago business leader with years of experience in M&A through his work in investment banking for Goldman Sachs, followed by more than a decade building SaaS companies, including the one he leads now, Synap Software Labs.
Some people think slow integration mitigates “resistance to change,” but Jeremie sees it differently. While it’s important to be thoughtful, cautious, and aware of what you’re doing, Jeremie doesn’t believe change is what scares most employees.
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“They don’t fear change. People fear punishment and retribution.” And the single most punishing aspect of change as it relates to M&A… is uncertainty. You don’t know what’s going to happen to you, or your job, or your post, or your team, or your product, or the company you’ve been working so hard for.”
This prolonged uncertainty can kill motivation, kill drive, and leave people questioning whether they believe in the new strategy and leadership, or if they should be looking for another job.
“You want to go in on day one and say this is what we’re doing, this is how it’s going to work, this is who it’s affecting, this is why it’s affecting you — your teams or your products — and the reality is, we’ve already made the decision. It’s going to happen. It’s less painful to be open, transparent, and get it done. Prolonged uncertainty is just unbearable.”
You know it’s difficult, according to Bacon, because inevitably some people will be hurt by the deal. There will be redundancies, especially when you’re buying a business that’s a lot like yours.
As painful as it is though, Bacon feels you need to be able to close the deal, announce the deal, sit your teams down right away and say, “Here is who is no longer going to be part of the new business going forward. But here is what we are going to do to help you, and your team or your colleagues to transition into something else.” He adds, “The last thing you want to do is walk out of a deal where you just let a bunch of people go due to overlap or synergistic reasons, or whatever, and do nothing about it.”
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