We’ve covered a lot of mergers over the past six months — from Providence St. Joseph Health Merger Creates $100 Million Mental Health Initiative to Number Of Home Health & Hospice Acquisitions Down 33% From 2014 to New Aetna Network Combines Duke, Wakemed Providers. And at last year’s OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute, Centerstone chief executive officer David C. Guth Jr. created quite a stir with his view of the “scale” needed to be sustainable in the emerging health and human service market — see Is $400 Million The Number?.
And while many executive teams are considering mergers, acquisitions, and a number of other collaborative arrangements (see Thinking Of A Merger Or Acquisition? Five Key Questions), there is less focus on how to make mergers work. The question is, how do you build and maintain a positive, high-performing culture during periods of high growth?
The answer to that question was the focus of the presentation, Building A High-Performance Culture In A High-Growth Organization, by Relias Learning chief strategy officer, Mike Mutka at The 2016 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat. Mr. Mutka talked about his personal journey at Relias, from employee No. 5 in 2005 to the current organization with 450 employees. Between 2012 and 2016, Relias Learning increased annual revenues by more than four-fold to over $100 million. This 45% average growth rate was due to a 20% organic growth rate, coupled with eight strategic mergers. And, their team has set their sights on becoming a $600 million global organization over the next decade.
So, how to manage this high-growth period for Relias, or any other organization for that matter? Mr. Mutka discussed some of the challenges: Trust breaks down due to a loss of clarity of priorities and loss of cohesion for core values and execution. There is a tendency to lose focus on hiring the right people and a lack of good metrics on performance. The most strategically critical systems and processes often can’t scale up fast enough for the growth. I had a few key takeaways from Mr. Mutka’s presentation on how to address those issues
Assess Your Organizational Health – Repeatedly
Mr. Mutka noted that the first step toward successfully combining multiple organizations into a single, high-performing one starts with assessing the health of the newly acquired organization.
Citing Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else, he assesses organizations by asking six questions:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important, right now?
- Who must do what?
How strongly aligned is the senior leadership team around these issues? How many of the staff were able to answer the questions correctly? How much incongruity is there between their answers? Strategic “readjustments” can be made based on the answers to those questions.
Measure It, Then Manage It
Beyond the initial assessment of the health of an organization, constant measurement and management to those measures is key. First build a unified, sustainable organizational strategy with set goals and outcomes, then communicate this plan to your team at every level, and then make it a point to “measure it and manage it.” Mr. Mutka used recruiting as an example. The Relias recruiting dashboard is reviewed by senior executives weekly.
Rethink The Tyranny Of Meetings
And speaking of executives meeting and reviewing something every day, how does that happen? I like Mr. Mutka’s model for meeting planning (courtesy of Mr. Lencioni).
Whether your organization is “high growth” or not, I think this is great management advice for any executive looking to improve organizational performance. And, in an era of ever-more-frequent mergers, acquisitions, and partnership, you never know. For more, be sure to check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:
- When ‘Being Acquired’ Is The Best Financial Move
- The Strategic Advantages & Challenges Of Mergers & Acquisitions
- Unscrambling The Egg: A New Question For M&A
- How Do Meta-Leaders Create The Collaborations That Matter?
And for even more on building high-performing organizations, mark your calendars for The 2017 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute on February 16-17, 2017 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, in Clearwater Beach, Florida.