7 Traits that Drive Success
The role of Integration Manager (IM) in M&A is a challenging but fascinating job. It calls for a versatile, multiskilled person who possesses executive muscle and strong leadership ability. The role is ambiguous and sketchy at first, so the IM must be able to take charge and bring order to an undefined, very fluid situation where a lot is at stake.
PRITCHETT’s 40+ years of merger integration experience have taught us the seven key attributes needed for IM success. These are defined below, along with a rating scale for each of the traits to permit an easy and systematic evaluation of a potential candidate.
1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Merger integration is a complex process that needs the discipline of effective project management. The situation is complicated by new organizational dynamics, time pressures, power and political issues, competing priorities, numerous constraints, and personal agendas. The IM needs good organizational ability in order to bring structure, coherence, and alignment to the integration efforts. This involves establishing the IMO charter, work streams, timelines, objectives, reporting methods, etc. Integration governance and decision-making authority need to be defined. Interdependencies need to be identified and coordinated. Strong project management skills are essential to keep things systematic, on track, and moving forward.
2. POWER, AUTHORITY, AND EXECUTIVE CREDIBILITY
The IM needs the personal stature to be taken seriously across the merging organizations. Ideally this person will be a veteran with a record of success in various line and staff management positions in different functional areas, providing him or her a well-rounded grasp of the parent company’s processes, culture, products/services, customer base, and competition. These qualifications engender high trust and respect from others. The IM also should have direct access to top executives plus their clear endorsement as the person running the integration.
3. SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
Leading the IMO is a people-intensive job that calls for tact, empathy, diplomacy, and self-insight. The integration process will inevitably surface conflicts, personal sensitivities, and stress. As the individual in charge, the IM needs to be a calming influence with good political skills who can broker disagreements and foster a collaborative spirit. The IM also should facilitate social connections and serve as a bridge-builder between the two organizations. He or she should be able to show impartiality and objectivity, readily functioning as a fair- minded advocate for the acquired firm’s personnel and interests.