Step 8: Develop M&A Staffing and Retention Plans

Leadership assessments and talent retention in M&A--the decisions regarding who goes, who stays, and who is in charge--help determine the future direction of the business and the workforce’s views on what the new organization values.

Unfortunately, selecting someone to stay does not mean they will. It is not surprising that people often choose to leave an organization or “de-commit” during a merger or acquisition.

Acquirers should re-recruit the crucial people in the target company before competitors capture their attention. Merging becomes even more risky and problematic without the help of a target company's best performers.

If the acquired workforce is to be integrated—truly merged—then the staging for this consolidation should begin well before the deal is formally closed. Problems develop rapidly when the parent firm fails to orchestrate a prompt and systematic assimilation process.

Organizations routinely suffer a loss of identity upon being acquired and with that loss comes an erosion of employee commitment. Motivation deteriorates as people’s sense of “my company” fades and blurs, making it harder for them to maintain an emotional attachment to the organization. Also, personal ties to upper-level managers or the owner may be severed as those people leave the scene, eliminating important personal loyalties that previously generated strong motivational forces.

The widespread turmoil created by change turns people’s thoughts inward, away from their job and toward personal concerns. Self-protective thoughts swirl through their minds, leaving people to wonder about the wisdom in waiting to see what will happen to their careers.

Uncertainty, feelings of loss, and fear of change are demotivating. The best antidote for these ailments is powerful onboarding.

In this section, our articles explain how to evaluate the acquired company's management, design a new organization structure, retain key talent, manage redundancies, and onboard target company employees.

We also provide slides from our Merger Integration Certification Workshop that reveal guidelines on how to identify and retain key players without overpaying or overpromising.

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Do bonuses work?
Do "Stay Bonuses" Really Work?
You could be buying behavior you don't want.
Evaluate company management
Why Not Evaluate the Acquired Company's Management on Corporate Profits?
Qualitative data may be more important than the numbers.
Unfair in merger
Be Willing to Be Unfair in a Merger
Not everyone should have an equal say.
build a powerful onboarding process
Build a Powerful Onboarding Process
A well-crafted onboarding program can be your best counter-offensive against troublesome merger dynamics. 
interviewing guidelines for staffing NEWCO
Interviewing Guidelines for Staffing NEWCO
10-page document that covers interview preparation, the interview process, and candidate evaluation in M&A.
Take care of me issues
Take Care of the "Me" Issues in a Hurry
Every employee looks at a merger from the standpoint of how he or she personally will be affected.

Talent Assessments

Senior Vice President
Senior Vice President
4-Page Executive Assessment Summary of SVP (name of executive and details have been changed).
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
4-Page Executive Assessment Summary of COO (name of executive and details have been changed).


Culture Mapping Exercise
HR Due Diligence
9-page list of HR data to gather and assess.
A Talent assessment and retention tool
A Primer on Talent Assessment and Retention
3-page primer covers factors to consider, retention bonuses, and recommended steps.

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staffing and retention checklist
Staffing and Retention Checklist
The sections of the document are as follows:
  • Assessment of Turnover and Discussion of Retention Needs
  • Status update on memo regarding org. design and synergies
  • Status Update on Tier 2 Interviews and Selection
  • Job Descriptions
  • Professional Assessment Forms/ Other data for interviewers
  • Update on first RIF and Transition Services (Outplacement)
Re recruitment analysis and planning
Re-Recruitment Analysis and Plan
Document covers the four steps involved in preparing a retention plan and includes a plan template.


Keep A players
How to Keep Your "A Players" in a Merger: Six Guidelines
Reasons to avoid re-recruiting are understandable, but risky.
hard core truth about getting hired
What's Next?: The Hard Core Truth About How to Get Hired
Job search tips to help separated employees get their careers back on track.
post merger
Post Merger: How to Design the New Organizational Structure
Seven-step process that puts strategy first.
Ten common mistakes
Ten Common Mistakes Managers Make During Job Status Notification
Notification warrants careful planning and handling.
The comeback
The Comeback
Help laid-off employees re-launch their careers.
Mergers and acquisitions
Mergers and Acquisitions: The HR Process for Making Staffing Decisions
A well-defined process is needed for making crucial personnel decisions.
True turnover cost
The "True" Turnover Cost of Key Employees in an Acquired Company
Determine the total potential costs from merger bailouts.
Human resources approach
The Right Human Resources Approach to M&A Turnover
A passive wait-and-see attitude is the wrong approach.