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The critical role of high-performer interviews in M&A

Fusjoner og oppkjøp|Integrated Wellbeing
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By Kelly Karger and Jim Leininger | July 10, 2020

Simple as it sounds, an old-fashioned heart-to-heart talk with high-performing employees can bring critical information during uncertain times.

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About our ‘Best Practices: Measuring Employee Experience in M&A’ series

Our four-part “Best Practices: Measuring Employee Experience in M&A” series covers three proven tools that can help increase the likelihood of M&A success: pulse surveys, virtual focus groups and high-performer interviews.

In addition to employee surveys and focus groups (virtual or otherwise), the last listening strategy we’re going to cover in this series is high-performer interviews (HPIs).

Simple as it sounds, an old-fashioned heart-to-heart talk with high-performing employees can bring critical information during uncertain times. Like the other listening methods discussed previously in the series, the goal of an HPI is to gather information about the employee experience, their confidence in the future and to discuss how the company can best support them during the transition. But an HPI also adds additional context — understanding the immediate concerns of your most valuable workforce.

There is no magic number of HPIs that should be conducted during mergers and acquisitions (M&A) — the correct number will be deal dependent. The intention is not to achieve a representative sample for statistical analysis, but rather to allow for deep exploration of questions and concerns from a key stakeholder group. HPI interviews from across your key business units will yield critical inputs into your transition strategy. Your best talent will often have the most helpful (and practical) suggestions for making things happen.

Beyond gathering information, the HPI serves another important function — engaging and retaining key talent who have been selected for retention agreements. The process of being selected, interviewed and listened to is a low-cost, high-touch element of a comprehensive approach to keeping critical talent. With a constructive, forward-looking interview, the high performer can not only become a change agent for the integration, but also serve as a springboard for key messages about the new organization and refreshed business strategy.

But before deploying HPIs, ensure that leadership is prepared to act upon the findings. An HPI can only help retention if the targeted critical talent sees tangible responses and actions coming from them.

The HPI can be used to understand their personal concerns, confirm their understanding of the rationale for the deal and opportunities the future business strategy affords, explore potential barriers to success and solicit input on how to have a successful transition.

Done properly, an HPI can serve multiple purposes during an M&A integration, sensing employees, brainstorming solutions and engaging critical talent.

Authors

Senior Director, Global M&A

Director — Talent Management and Organizational Development

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