Decision Making in a Merger: Should I Stay or Should I Go? | In Practise

Decision Making in a Merger: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Principal at Nexant and Former Global Head of Specialty Gases & Equipment at Linde

Learning outcomes

  • As an executive at a company that is part of a merger, what decision making framework can I turn to do decide whether or not to stay at the merged organisation?
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Executive Bio

Stephen Harrison

Principal at Nexant and Former Global Head of Specialty Gases & Equipment at Linde

Steve’s career the Industrial Gases business has spanned over 27 years working for The BOC Group (a FTSE 100 company) and Linde (a DAX30 organisation). He was active in all major business areas: tonnage pipeline supply, bulk process gases and packaged cylinder gases. Over that time, he spent 15 years in global strategic leadership roles and was heavily involved in acquiring and integrating business from Air Products, Airgas, AGA, Gaspro, Matheson, Praxair and Spectra Gases. More recently, he has been running his own consulting practice at sbh4 and is the principal, Germany, at Nexant Energy & Chemicals Advisory – responsible for consulting activities in the DACH region. Read more

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Could you describe your thoughts and process on how one determines whether or not to stay at the company that you are being merged into.

I think the most simple way to articulate the question is “Do I like it here?” How can we break that down? Is there a good cultural fit between me as a person, the way I’m culturally happy to operate, the values that I hold strong and the culture and values within this organisation. Ultimately in the short term we can ‘bend’ our values a little bit and perhaps try and fit in, but over the long term that becomes more difficult and begins to eat deeply into our soul. We could give it a bit of a try and see how things work out, maybe the culture changes a bit, but there comes a point in time where it splits us internally and we’re better off seeking an alternative.

This question about ‘Do I like it here?’ breaks down into a cultural fit. What about the relationships that I already have here, do I value them, are there people whose mentoring and coaching or friendship in the workplace I value? Maybe that’s a reason to stay because it’s an important part of my social network. Is there a career for me here? Beyond the job that I’m doing right now? Do I see possible steps upwards? Do people appreciate my contribution? Do people value and respect me?

Or, do I believe that over a period of three to six months or one or two years, I could influence them into believing that I’m the kind of person who has a good career here. Is there a future for me here that I’m going to develop into and enjoy? Especially as a young person, an MBA type candidate that’s a very important question to be asking. Externally, do I have alternatives? Do I really have to make the best of this situation because there’s nothing else I can do. It’s probably unlikely despite what people might feel, but I think I need to look at other alternatives, other companies that I can take my skills to. Are there other ventures that I can get involved in, do I actually have any alternatives that will fulfil my personal requirements in terms of it being interesting, my financial requirements in terms of the kind of salary that I want.

Or do I simply want a change in my life right now? Maybe I’ve been working for several years and it’s time to do some more travelling, take some time out. Maybe I want to take a sabbatical, maybe I want to try being a self employed consultant for a few years and see how that fits me. Maybe I want to retire, that could be a choice that a lot of people are looking at in situations like this.

“Do I like it here, do I have alternatives, is there a fit for me here, am I appreciated, is there a future for me here?” Those are the questions that need to be going through people’s heads, all very personal. Finally “Am I going to add value? Am I going to make a difference in this organisation professionally? Am I going to feel that my work here is valuable, making a difference in society? Is there a role and a niche for me here, am I needed, are my skills really giving something unique to this organisation. From a professional perspective that’s what, for a lot of people, drives their sense of professional satisfaction. Is my skill set really making a difference in this organisation.” Is also critical to it.

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