· 2 min read · Features

Eight-point guide to assessing M&As


In an increasingly competitive business environment, it is all too common to see organisations joining forces or buying specialist departments in order to stay ahead of the market, says Tracy Coomber of Assessment and Development Consultants.

The latest buy out of Nokia's mobile branch by Microsoft is a great example. However, in any situation such as this, there will be a level of upheaval for employees, particularly those that will be moving to a new brand or taking on a new role.

In these circumstances HR departments must be prepared for the number of challenges this raises, such as keeping staff motivated, identifying the right individuals to move, managing a smooth transition across brands and ensuring any movers fit with the company culture. But implementing a redeployment process isn't as easy as it sounds.

Here are Commber's eight steps to approaching M&A assessment.

1. Have clear objectives

It may seem an obvious suggestion, but it is imperative that the organisation and key stakeholders are all clear on the objectives of the process. Without clarification of the goal, it is hard to ensure a method will be designed and delivered that will meet the success criteria.

Whoever first identifies the need for redeployment must have a rationale in mind and it is important that this is explored, understood and accepted by those involved in the roll out of the process.

2. Communicate with employee representatives and unions

As a first step in the process, a procedure should be put in place and communicated internally to employees and trade unions/employee representatives. This benefits all parties by helping to ensure fair treatment. By openly sharing information, the process is more equitable, demonstrating the company's continued dedication to their employees.

3. Communicate and position the process

People are naturally concerned and apprehensive about the unknown, so clear communication can help to ensure clarity and a thorough understanding of upcoming events. On-going engagement and support will put people at ease during any process. It is also advisable to provide information to employees on what to expect and what the procedure and decision criteria will involve.

4. Understand what to assess

Before talent is redeployed, it's vital to have a clear picture of what skills are required. This should also inform the selection of appropriate objective assessment tools. In order to do this, some form of job analysis should be conducted. This involves talking to, and possibly observing people currently in the affected roles to identify the behaviours demonstrated (which will be assessed), the types of tasks completed (which will inform the choice or design of exercises) and the level of behaviours required for success (which will become the benchmark for identifying effective employees).

5. Manage special requirements

When designing the assessment process, it is important to consider how individuals who may have special requirements can access the assessment process, including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, learning difficulties or visual impairment.

When people are selected to go through the assessment process, whether through nomination or application, it is important to directly contact anyone who states a 'special requirement' to explore their specific needs.

6. Identify tools for assessment

When assessment centres are used as part of a redeployment process, it is vital for objectivity and legal defensibility reasons that the tools used provide a balance of tasks. This creates a level playing field for all participants, irrespective of their specific prior experiences or knowledge. Tools for selection can include application forms, structured interviews and business simulation exercises.

7. Maintain objectivity and fairness

Assessment centres are a common choice for redeployment as they are one of the fairest and most objective selection tools available. This helps to ensure your process is legally defensible. Assessment centres also allow you to make use of a number of different tools.

8. Provide feedback to participants

All participants should be given some feedback on their performance, with results provided in a written report at the absolute minimum. This is then something they can use as the basis for development in a new role or as part of their reflection when applying for other positions.

Tracy Coomber (pictured) is principal consultant at Assessment and Development Consultants