M&A Culture Transition: Degree of Urgency - dummies

M&A Culture Transition: Degree of Urgency

By Bill Snow

For most M&A deals, culture is the biggest issue. No two companies have the same business culture, and geographic differences can exacerbate those cultural discrepancies. A common cultural difference that often pops up as two companies attempt to integrate is urgency — in other words, the speed at which people accomplish tasks.

Large, urban areas tend to have a greater sense of urgency about completing tasks. They get things done today. Rural areas often have a slower pace and are more accustomed to taking care of jobs tomorrow; those people may greet your query about an uncompleted task with a befuddled “Oh, you were serious about that?”

Another element in the today-versus-tomorrow issue may lie outside geographical boundaries, in the difference between ownership styles. Owners of privately held companies often aren’t as forceful or assertive as owners or executives of larger, public companies.

The laid-back culture of the pre-sale owner may be diametrically opposed to the high-charged, over-caffeinated culture of the new owner, and this difference can cause miscommunication and problems.

If faced with an acquired staff’s more laid-back view of urgency, don’t be surprised by an initial blasé attitude. But stick to your guns. Don’t change your expectations. People will figure out quickly that the new owner expects things done differently, namely today.