Using an Understanding of Climate to Drive Value from Mergers and Acquisitions

Climate, as measured by the Performance Climate System (PCS), should be a key metric in valuing a company, assessing its potential fit with or within another company, and in determining how separate organisations can be fused to create a bigger and better entity. 

We know that:

  • The decision to merge or acquire is driven by one underlying motive; to protect or improve the strength and/or profitability of the dominant company — and ultimately to maximize shareholder wealth.
  • Although dipping slightly in 2016, the global value of M&A was £3.6tn 2016[1] with a UK domestic value of £23.9bn[2], not including inward or outward investment.
  • The M&A advisory industry is vast with estimated revenue of $20.7bn in the US alone[3].
  • While a company is typically measured by its output, it delivers / operates via a range of inputs.  Even though automation has transformed many industries over the last thirty years, people and teams remain at the centre of most businesses.  Academic research suggests that the effectiveness of a team is largely down to climate (how an organisation feels) and that climate is principally influenced by the quality / ability of leadership and management[4].


  • A sizeable proportion of mergers and acquisitions fail to provide the anticipated value; a “rule of thumb” 40% failure was identified in a survey of Fortune 500 companies in 2005[5].
  • The amount of time allocated for Due Diligence and Integration Planning is often the difference between success or failure.  Nevertheless, everyone involved in a merger or acquisition will tell you that they are often rushed, and therefore assumptions are made which focus on hard and easily quantifiable metrics.
  • Due to the imperative to generate short-term efficiencies and immediate increases in shareholder value, it is no surprise that the average team involved in processing a M&A comprises of people with financial, legal and commercial knowledge, skills and experience (KSE).  Usually, those with operational and sectoral KSE are brought in after the completion of a deal to implement plans.  Last to be engaged are typically HR professionals who are either reducing headcount or reallocating staff.
  • A report from Deloitte on how companies can improve value through M&A from 2013 suggested 4 “conditions that can make for better bets in the high-stakes M&A game”[6]:

1. Acquiring at the correct time (M&A Activity Cycle);

2. Applying accumulated experience (Nature of the Acquirer);

3. Pursuing deals of an appropriate size relative to the acquirer (Size of the Target);

4. Funding transactions with equity or a mix of equity and cash (Financing).

While these conditions appear logical and based on sound analysis, they miss two fundamental issues 1) the nature of the target and 2) the complementarity of  parties from a hard perspective (finances, strategy, processes, geography) and a soft perspective (people, culture / climate, behaviours).

Understanding the climate of an organisation will improve shareholder value as a result of merger or acquisition by:

1. Measuring the climates of organisations pre-merger to understand potential conflicts and opportunities;

2. Using climate results to inform Integration Planning and investment;

3. Measuring progress and understanding return on investment of post M&A activity;

4. Identifying the most effective leaders during Integration Planning to ensure they are not only retained during any headcount reduction but more importantly, are placed in ‘M&A critical’ roles during the execution phase;

5. For a willing target organisation, using climate status to increase an ‘asking price’: “you’re not just buying an organisation with a healthy set of accounts, you’re buying a productive organisation with an effective and well led workforce”.

PCS is a unique and powerful system which typically helps leaders, teams and organisations to focus their attention on the critical factors impacting performance.  It focuses on the link between the climate in which people work, their level of attainment or performance, and the factors impacting this performance.

PCS has evolved as a result of 17-years of client experience.  To date, it has been used over 20,000 times, across more than 3,000 teams in 14 countries. It has been deployed globally by large and small organisations, across all functional areas.  It can be used pan-organisation as a framework for performance improvement, using the bespoke Organisation Performance Dashboard.

For more information on PCS and how it can support M&A activity contact us on:


[2] 2016


[4] Burke WW, Litwin GH (1992). A causal model of organisational performance and change

[5] Bruner, Robert F. Deals from Hell, John Wiley and Sons, 2005

[6] Beating the Odds: How companies can improve value through M&A.  Deloitte 2013

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.