Last month I wrote a column titled "Separation without the anxiety," about our special series of articles by the consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) on how supply chain managers can prepare for a merger, acquisition, or divestment. The articles focused on creating value and preparing assets for sale, developing a transition plan, and optimizing supply chain and logistics operations prior to handoff—all very businesslike, legal-minded, and tactical.
Within minutes after the e-newsletter containing that column transmitted, I received an e-mail from an acquaintance, who wrote, "Be sure to address [human resources] issues in mergers. Who cares if I lose my job?"
This experienced supply chain professional had survived one acquisition, only to be laid off when his new employer was itself acquired. The point he was making—that mergers, acquisitions, and divestments inevitably have personal consequences for supply chain professionals—is a valid and necessary one. That subject was largely beyond the scope of our articles, and the authors therefore did not address it. But that doesn't mean it is not important or that it should not be a priority.
Supply chain executives and managers will surely be acutely aware of the implications of a merger, acquisition, or divestment for the people in their organizations. Some will be required to make recommendations on staffing, including who transfers to the new owner, who stays behind, and who will have no place in either organization. Others may have little or no control over how staffing plays out in the aftermath of these deals.
In any event, it is their responsibility to balance the needs of the people who work under their direction with the needs— more properly, demands—of the companies involved. That is one difficult task, especially when managers' own jobs may be at stake. Still, they must make every effort to achieve the best outcome they possibly can for their employees, representing their best interests and arguing on their behalf. Human decency requires no less.