Getting CEOs to prioritise Change Management and People Strategy in M&A

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    Aaron Chua

    CEOs have been speaking of the criticality of change management and the people agenda to M&A success for a long time. Yet many CEOs still are not willing to allocate adequate resources to the people agenda. What measures can we take to obtain full and consistent sponsorship from CEOs on the change and people agenda?

    Sarah Miller

    I completely relate to where you are coming from. I think it’s about building a strong case for the importance of the change and people agenda. Usually from what I’ve experienced, they want to relate it back to money so showing the ROI is important. Maybe share data and case studies that show the positive impact that a strong focus on change management and people can have on M&A success. On the flip side, highlight the risks of not investing. If you draw attention to the risks like employee disengagement, decreased productivity, and increased resistance to change, that could help – especially if you can measure it (potentially before and after). The last thing I would say is engaging other senior leaders for buy-in to help support your efforts may go farther. It’s harder to argue when his/her whole team is on a different page. Good luck!


    Some of the measures that we can consider taking include but not limited to the following:

    -Build a strong business case for investing in change management and the people agenda, highlighting potential benefits to the business and using data and metrics to demonstrate the impact on the bottom line.
    -Show the risks of not investing in these initiatives, including the potential for low morale, employee burnout, and decreased productivity.
    -Engage with key stakeholders across the organization to build a coalition of support.
    -Involve the CEO early in the process to ensure full commitment and understanding of the importance of these initiatives.
    -Use data and analytics to measure impact and demonstrate ROI.
    -Regularly communicate progress and successes to maintain momentum and build ongoing support.

    By taking these measures, you can increase the chances of obtaining full and consistent sponsorship from CEOs on the change and people agenda. Remember that it takes time and effort to build support, but the benefits to the business can be significant.


    It is very tough as a PMI advisor to convince a CEO to focus more on the soft issues as it essentially boils down to management styles, fundamental beliefs about the value of people (or not!), KPI’s, incentives and what she has communicated to the market. In this case, it is important to build a broad alliance with the HR EVP/director, internal audit (from a risk management perspective), the trusted ‘deal advisors’ who got the CEO that far in the deal, and even the board through the Risk Management Committee. Setting up workshops with business line and functional leaders to distill their views of the integration risks may allow you to build a bottom-up case for the importance of ‘soft’ issues. If then one still fails then it is time to look around ….

    Leeanne Ang

    I think this is an important question to consider. Not he one hand, CEOs have a duty to the shareholders to increase profits as soon as possible, but without properly prioritising people strategies, this may not happen in the long run.

    Pang Lai Li

    Leadership can help bring together the best of both cultures. CEOs hold the power to protect and successfully share their cultures. One strategy is a weekly leadership meeting for the teams to get voice their concerns and address issues. Will be great to engage in team building activities for all levels of organization.


    Believe that this is a structural thing. The incentive structure of a CEO does not necessarily align with the incentive structure of their employees.

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