We Bought It! Now How Do We Manage It?
Petroleum marketers have been expanding their businesses by buying other jobbers at a rapid pace for several years now, with no sign of a slowdown. It’s always interesting to watch what happens after the sale, when the emotional high of completing the acquisition wears off a little, and it’s time to get down to the business of managing the new location(s).
There are several basic options to choose from on team integration and management after an acquisition:
#1. Anti-Disruption – Legacy teams (LT) stay put, with acquired employees (AE) creating new teams or staying as-is in the purchased location. This example frequently creates 1 stable team (LT) and 1 unstable team (AE) suffering from lack of direction.
#2. Break It Up – LT break into groups of smaller teams, which then absorb AE. This example can be helpful to the AE but has a side-effect of weakening the LT substantially.
#3. Mix It Up – Keep LT as is, bringing AE into the overall team environment allowing organic, natural movement to dictate the eventual split when team numbers (over 10) make it necessary. The mix of members should create a natural sequence of splitting given some time, and allow for stronger teams to emerge. This option has the best chance of creating stable teams.
Under all scenarios, it’s of the utmost importance to manage and guard the existing corporate culture and not allow dilution. Employees and customers are sensitive to the organizational culture, which should be cautiously guarded. This situation is comparable to a geography experiencing explosive immigration of a different culture, and it’s just a human nature fact that we all pack up our bags and move our behavior, culture and habits with us.
To give an example, a petroleum jobber buys a nearby jobber and deploys Anti-Disruption in the acquired bulk plant/warehouse. Leave the new team members to their own devices and they will continue to sell product under their old habits and comfort zone, which very frequently doesn’t at all match up with the acquirer’s processes and culture. On top of the behavior and habits, add in lack of information sharing (because back-office systems are different) and both sides can become quickly frustrated. Using the Mix It Up scenario at least provides the implant of the acquirer’s culture and rules into the acquired location. Especially in today’s world of meeting technology, actual onsite training doesn’t have to be a constant requirement.
RECOMMENDATION – Before the deal is even closed, be working on providing clear instruction on what’s expected in the basic work flows, especially when touching customers. Give AE documented structure, policies and procedures under which to operate. Provide mentors from the LT to coach and manage how these processes are being carried out. Be sure and exercise patience as the new corporate culture and processes have integration time.
For more information,
contact Ann Pitts