Executive Transition Coaching in M&A: 6 Factors for Success
The complexity of mergers and acquisitions, including the emotions, personalities, and responsibilities that come with transitioning between different organizations often pose unique challenges for executives.
Leveraging a valuable tool like executive transition coaching can help executives as they navigate through this process. Leaders who undergo transition coaching have the ability to facilitate better communication between organizations during this time of uncertainty, ensuring a smoother transition with limited operational disruption.
Executive transition coaching also offers support for executives as they adjust to their new roles and responsibilities, new organizational culture, navigating any legal complexities, etc. Not only does transition coaching provide executive support, but it also helps ensure that all parties involved in the merger or acquisition are informed and on the same page. Research has shown that when paired with feedback, coaching increases leadership efficacy upwards of 60% in certain dimensions (Thach, 2002). Ultimately, it provides executives with peace of mind, allowing them to focus on executing a successful merger or acquisition.
There are a number of reasons why an investor might consider transition coaching for executives in the context of a merger or acquisition. For one, it can help ensure that the executives are able to continue performing their duties effectively during the transition period, which is critical for the success of the merger or acquisition. This can be of special importance when founder-led companies are being acquired – these leaders may be grappling with answering to others, such as a board of directors, for the first time in their careers. And in roll-up or add-on acquisitions where a founder will be taking on a role as a member of an existing executive team.
Transition coaching can also help executives develop the skills and knowledge they need to thrive and grow in their new roles within the merged or acquired company, which can help improve overall organizational performance. Additionally, transition coaching might help reduce the risk of disruptive and costly executive turnover.
Choosing the right transition coach
Consider these factors when choosing a transition coach:
- Expertise: Look for a coach who has relevant industry expertise. If the deal involves two companies in the same industry, it can be helpful to have a coach with experience in that industry.
- Credentials: Consider whether the coach has any relevant certifications or credentials, such as a professional coaching certification or an advanced degree in a relevant field.
- Experience: Look for a coach who has experience working with executives and employees during times of transition, such as during a merger or acquisition.
- Client references: Ask the coach for references from clients who have worked with them during a merger or acquisition. This can help you get a sense of the coach's effectiveness and style.
- Alignment with your goals: Make sure that the coach is aligned with your goals for the transition coaching. Be clear about your objectives and look for a coach who has experience helping clients achieve similar goals.
- Communication style: Consider whether the coach's communication style is a good fit for you. It's important to feel comfortable and able to communicate openly with your coach.
- Availability: Make sure the coach has the availability to meet your needs during the transition period. You may need to have more frequent sessions at the beginning of the coaching process, so ensure that the coach is able to accommodate your schedule.
At the end of the day, outcomes matter. It is essential to jointly define success and clarify the goals and expectations of the transition process. At a minimum these should include a successful integration, putting effective processes into place, making good decisions, and achieving business outcomes in alignment with the investment thesis.
Successful transition coaching in M&A
There are many factors that contribute to the success of transition coaching in the context of mergers and acquisitions. Some of these include:
- Timing: Start early in the process so executives and other employees have more time to adapt to the changes that come with the merger or acquisition.
- Customization: Sessions should be tailored to the specific needs of the executives and employees receiving it. This might involve focusing on different topics for different groups of people or using different coaching approaches for different individuals.
- Expertise: Identify a coach who has relevant expertise in the industry or type of deal.
- Support: Incorporate transition coaching into larger support systems that includes other resources and services, such as training, mentoring, and ongoing sponsorship from supportive board members or advisors, their executive team and HR.
- Communication: Effective communication is critical for the success of transition coaching. This means keeping executives and employees informed about the progress of the merger or acquisition, as well as providing them with the information and resources they need to adapt to the changes.
- Self-Reflection: Through self-reflection, executives can gain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ways in which their behavior and decision-making may be impacting their performance and the performance of their team.
Self-Reflection is essential to successful transition
Self-reflection is an important aspect of executive coaching because it helps executives gain insight into their own behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. This can be particularly valuable in the context of a merger or acquisition, when executives may be facing new challenges and changes that require them to adapt and learn new skills.
Self-reflection can take many forms, but some common techniques that coaches might use include:
- Asking executives to reflect on their own experiences and observations
- Employing validated leadership assessment tools
- Encouraging executives to journal about their thoughts and feelings
- Helping executives to identify patterns in their behavior or thought processes
- Facilitating group discussions or exercises that encourage self-reflection
This can help transitioning leaders identify areas where they need to make changes or improvements and develop strategies for doing so.
To get started with M&A transition coaching, identify specific areas of need and development opportunity, research potential coaches, schedule a consultation, discuss goals and objectives, determine the coaching format and frequency, and them begin working with your chosen coach to achieve goals and pave the way for success.
If you’d like help with this process, let us know. 29Bison would be glad to assist you, your leaders and portfolio company executives. If you found this content valuable, please share it with others.