Seven Mistakes That Will Crush an Acquisition

The following are seven mistakes we made when our organization acquired two medical facilities a few years back.

1. No one knew until the last minute.

Imagine working in a place, minding your business, when suddenly the business is being sold and you had no clue. Allowing the seller to do this was our first mistake. Keeping the acquisition under wraps until the last minute left the newly acquired teams in the dark and scrambling to catch up. They felt betrayed by their previous owners and they did not trust us, the new owners, because we were in on the no-transparency policy.

2. Promised them nothing would change.

We all want stability, right? That’s what we thought we would do to alleviate people’s anxieties. But the reality is, in an acquisition, things are bound to change. As I looked at the company we were acquiring, I saw so many similarities with our culture, or so it seemed. Now I know that no two companies are similar enough to promise there will be no changes. Our promise of “nothing will change” created unrealistic expectations. Acknowledging and preparing for change is crucial to managing the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies mergers.

3. Promised them no one would be fired.

Job security is a big concern during acquisitions, and again because the company seemed to be well-run, we said we would continue with business as usual and everyone’s job was safe. However, in hindsight we realized the importance of reassessing roles and skills, as well as cultural fits, through re-interviews. It was not about job loss but about aligning the right people with the right positions in the new setup.

4. Promised them the pay would stay the same.

Everyone gets anxious when salaries might be adjusted, so we promised their pay would stay the same. But in reality, financial adjustments are often inevitable. Every company has a different pay scale and approach to raises. A more realistic approach involves open communication about potential changes, ensuring that staff are well-informed and prepared for any adjustments that may occur.

5. Trusted their numbers.

Numbers don’t lie, right? Well, not always. Relying blindly on the existing financial and operational data of the acquired facilities was a significant misstep. It’s crucial to question, verify, and update the numbers during an acquisition. Don’t assume that what worked for them before will seamlessly fit into your organizational puzzle now.

6. Did not insist on orientation for everyone.

You know that feeling when you’re the new person in a group and everyone seems to speak the same language—but you? We inadvertently subjected our new team members to that by not insisting on an immediate orientation to introduce them to our culture. After all, everything seemed like it was going well at the time of purchase. A thorough orientation is vital to integrate individuals, align them with the company culture, and create a cohesive, unified team.

7. Kept the same leaders.

We loved the top leaders of the organization we were acquiring. We thought if we asked them to continue in their roles, there would be less negative impact. While maintaining continuity is valuable, sticking with the same leaders without considering the evolving needs of the merged organization can be a roadblock. A strategic evaluation of leadership roles and potential restructuring would have better positioned the organization for success.

Conclusion: There you have it—the seven mistakes we made during our medical facility acquisition. Acquisitions are complex and pitfalls are inevitable, but learning from our missteps can guide us through a smoother process. Transparency, realistic promises, reassessment, open communication, verification, orientation, and strategic leadership evaluation are the keys to navigating the intricate world of acquisitions.

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