Lessons from Iraq that provide HR’s answers

first_img Comments are closed. Some striking HR lessons can be taken from the early rebuilding efforts inIraq. For anyone involved in cross-border merger and acquisition (M&A)projects, the lessons are similarly relevant and parallels close. Regrettably,they include several ‘should-have-been-dones’, just as in corporate life. The recent hostile acquisition of Iraq might have benefited from a little‘shock and awe HR’ work. In any cross-border M&A there are several key HR areas that must belooked at, planned for and executed. Although a domestic M&A can bechallenging, cross-border work can be even more so. When a company chooses toproject itself into new countries and cultures, it is essential that theplanning teams don’t forget several key post-acquisition HR issues. One is manpower planning: what type and size of workforce will be neededonce the dust has settled? Within days of the fall of Baghdad a well-planneddownsizing was, and still is, clearly under way. In a corporate world, we would witness initial tumult following anacquisition. HR’s role is to be certain that the rush for cost savings (fastlayoffs) doesn’t undermine longer- term goals. It has to consider whether it isfully equipped to manage the newly sized business. Ask yourself: is your HR infrastructure in place and working? Do youunderstand the cultural and legal requirements in the new country, and have youplanned for market practices? Can you deliver payroll in the new country?Again, consider how the coalition forces in Iraq had to figure out early onarrival how to deliver payroll to government staff to get them back to work.You would be in a similar boat. In a corporate M&A, it is important that careful thought is given toexecutive leadership after the acquisition. The corporate goal is most likelyto have someone from the acquiring company run the local show initially. Buthave you made plans for them to move back out as soon as things are stabilised?Do you look at the behaviours likely to lead to success or failure in the newcountry and its culture, and then vet any proposed executives against that? The seemingly rotating door of coalition leadership in Baghdad could besuspected of slowing overall progress in rebuilding Iraq. The very same issuecould be problematic for your acquisition too. Have you thought through your staff communication strategies? Do they takeinto account the culture of the company acquired, and the new country?Effective communication strategies must be fast, constant and consistent andwill go a long way towards getting the acquired employee population settled down,back to work, and back to being productive. By delivering thoughtful and results-focused solutions in a cross-borderacquisition, HR can demonstrate concrete value to its organisation. By Lance Richards, Board Director, SHRM Global Forum Lessons from Iraq that provide HR’s answersOn 3 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img