HR’s Role in the High Stakes M&A Game

HR's Role in the High Stakes M&A GamePosted by Kevin Knowles

A mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) deal can be a transformational opportunity for an organization—opening up new product offerings and markets, filling talent gaps, improving operational performance and more. Much of its potential, however, depends on senior leaders playing the right cards, before, during and after the deal. Human Resource (“HR”) leaders can help them do that.

According to Deloitte’s newest book in the Straight Talk series, High stakes M&A: Seven bets that matter, many of the “leadership cards” have a strong people component, hinging on senior leaders’ ability to:

  • Rally the leadership team around the vision for the future organization.
  • Communicate with employees, shareholders, investors and the public with clear, consistent messages to control rumors and speculation and maintain a positive, uplifting tone.
  • Set a strong example and be specific about how people can contribute to the new organization’s goals and how they will be rewarded.
  • Pay close attention to talent retention and engagement, not only because the organization needs “bodies,” but also because leaders have determined what competencies and capabilities are most important for the new organization and understand who among their current and acquired talent can support what the organization needs.
  • Shape the culture of the future organization through their words and actions, the way they treat stakeholders and where they focus their energy and attention.

The book offers actionable steps for leaders to take to help achieve the organization’s M&A objectives, as well as their personal career objectives. HR leaders, as the organization’s talent leaders, have considerable insights and specialized knowledge to offer their C-Suite colleagues and can play an important role throughout the transformation. When leaders lead with a strong hand and the right cards are played, the winnings can be shared by all.


Kevin Knowles Kevin Knowles, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, is the National Operations Leader for Deloitte’s Human Capital M&A practice and a specialist in HR Integration and Divestiture.

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