A Yogi’s Advice for Successful Mergers and Acquisitions

In a recent email newsletter (you can sign up at the bottom of this page), we highlighted a service we do a lot but, frankly don’t talk much about. Connecting contact center buyers with sellers is something I truly enjoy, and it’s something we can offer because of our long history and experience forging relationships in this space. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with several clients through mergers and acquisitions and have gleaned many insights on what can make or break the process.

As a long-time yoga practitioner, I can’t help but make connections between my work as a business consultant and yoga instructor. It is in this spirit that I provide the following three common acquisition mistakes and their yoga-informed solutions.

The Seller Doesn’t Know Him/Herself
I recently wrote about 3 things sellers should do before putting a business on the market, from making improvements to preparing financials and determining value. More important than these considerations, however, is a solid succession plan. I’ve seen deals end before they begin because a seller is unable to step away from his or her business. It’s understandable, yet also avoidable. By laying out a succession plan in advance (i.e. before the first potential buyer comes to the table), you can avoid the emotional pitfalls that can derail a merger or acquisition.

Succession planning is akin to the fourth niyama (which is the second limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga system), Svadhyaya, or self-study. As a way to deepen all aspects of Yoga, we are told to study ourselves in order to have sufficient information for future choices. Self-Knowledge is a never-ending discipline that involves reviewing body, mind and spirit in order to evolve. Use Svadhyaya to ask yourself what your dreams are and what you envision for your life. When you make a succession plan based on this understanding, you will be comfortable and confident with your plans through the merger or acquisition process.

When Ego Gets in the Way
Whether buyer or seller, when someone doesn’t want to be seen by others (whether the media, family, colleagues or employees) as backing down in the face of a foe, everyone involved in the merger or acquisition suffers. When either party is unable to put ego aside, what would have otherwise been a smooth transaction can be prolonged by things like soaring legal costs, shareholder dissention and employee stress.

The human ego, or Ahamkara, our sense of self and identity, suffers from a fundamental weakness called asmita or “I-am-ness” in yoga. In short, it’s easier for the ego to keep up appearances than to listen for instructions or wisdom from within. This flaw can be corrected, however, though purposeful living. In other words, by performing the actions that come before us for their own sake through quiet awareness. Consider the energy expended in the enormous task of keeping up appearances. When we disengage the ego from its tendency to identify with outward appearances, that energy becomes available for something more productive.

Losing Sight of the Human Element
It’s important that both sellers and buyers remember that employees – people – are the key to any acquisition or merger’s success. Turnover happens when buyers don’t work closely with sellers to understand company culture and values. The result is not only demoralizing, but also expensive. New management must work hard to build the trust of new teams. If employees sense buyers don’t care about them, they will leave, and in my experience, the result is a hit to both service and quality.

Losing sight of the importance of employee morale aligns with the yogic practice of ahimsa, or non-violence, harmlessness and non-injury. Similar to our fast-paced lives today, the acquisition process can overwhelm us, and as a result, we can abandon common courtesies not only to others, but also ourselves. Most of the time, we don’t realize how hurtful we are to ourselves simply with our negative thoughts. When you feel judgment about something, for instance, you are being harmful in your thoughts. Ahimsa begins by adopting a more compassionate attitude toward yourself. In doing this, you will positively affect those around you. When you shift to non-harming thoughts toward yourself, your perception shifts, making it easier to extend the same kindness to others. In order to establish trust – and a feeling of calm and safety – in employees, leaders must work to show harmony between buyer and seller. This can be accomplished through Ahimsa.

If you are at all intrigued by these ideas, I recommend The Yamas and Niyamas, a book introduced to me early in my yoga practice that has guided not only my spiritual path, but also my goals and focus in business and, frankly, all areas of life. To learn more about CHCG buyer and seller acquisition services, I invite you to fill out the form here.

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