Turning uncertainty into opportunity: How Interim Management can be used to navigate the challenges of M&A
Bambos Eracleous, Partner and Head of our Media & Entertainment Practice, explores the changes, challenges, and opportunities arising from M&A in the sector and how interim management can add value on both a business and individual level.
From broadcasters and production companies through to the global tech companies and legacy media giants, the battle for scale and premium content within the Media and Entertainment sector is well under way. For some this will mean more digital disruption and restructuring, whilst for others significant change and transformation will be a result of further consolidation within the industry. Mergers and acquisitions were a feature before the pandemic, the impact of which will have set the tone for more, and it is only natural that this creates a level of uncertainty for those directly affected by the continued shift of the media landscape.
However, as we emerge from what can at best be described as rather turbulent times, we are starting to appreciate that change can be good and is sometimes needed. What was first considered a challenge, may very well turn out to be a huge opportunity to create something better, driving innovation and ensuring we optimise performance, both as individuals and within businesses. In this article, I argue that while we should not minimise the huge pressure employees and organisations are under when going through a merger or an acquisition, we should approach them from a point of hopeful optimism.
But let us set the scene first, to fully understand where the pressure points currently lie and the challenges that leaders and hiring managers will be facing.
The Hiring Challenge
As mentioned above, the media and entertainment space has been through rapid change and transformation in the recent past, and if we read between the lines of business news reports, we can imagine that this will continue as we emerge from the pandemic. As a result of consolidation across the industry, many teams have seen a huge knock-on effect on their staff numbers. Hiring freezes are often installed until a merger or acquisition is completed and, as if recruitment was not difficult enough, hiring managers are faced with an even tougher challenge given they might not be able to recruit from direct competitors or firms associated with those that are part of an upcoming deal.
Simultaneously, companies are speeding up production timelines and product releases like never before. In a world saturated with digital technology and a never-dying thirst for the best and most recent content, companies are under enormous pressure not to fall behind their competition. Coupled with a reduction in staff numbers or smaller teams, this is a recipe for a recruitment headache.
This is where interim executives come into play, as they can step into these difficult scenarios, equipped with a high level of expertise and experience, and fill the gaps left behind in times of business transformation.
The Employee Challenge
There are always two sides to every story however, and whilst hiring managers have a crucial role to play in overcoming the challenge of recruiting the right candidates to ensure the business success, we must also consider the difficulty of being an employee in a rapidly changing environment.
When a merger or acquisition takes place, staff numbers are often reduced as a result of integration and efficiency savings. This presents a range of problems for existing employees, from job security to the uncertainty of whether they will enjoy working in a new environment and under (often) new management. Progression lines may become blurred and unclear due to new structures, and career plans and ambitions may be squashed. The change associated with consolidation will always be accompanied by huge amounts of apprehension and hesitation.
But it is not only hiring managers that can tap into interim management as a resource to overcome these moments – employees affected by a merger or an acquisition can too. In a corporate environment that is based on fast-paced success and performance, highly talented and skilled employees who are immediately available will find their knowledge and expertise in high demand. The step into becoming a ‘career interim’ can often not only be a great solution to overcome workplace dissatisfaction, but it can also transform an executive’s career to allow for more flexibility, higher earnings, access to stimulating projects and skills-focused assignments that satisfy the interim’s career aspirations.
The Business Chance
With all that being said, what can organisations do in times of uncertainty to continue to thrive and flourish without taking unnecessary risks?
For those that are hiring, interim executives are a great solution to fill temporary gaps in leadership positions or to ensure the delivery of vital projects and programmes of change and transformation.
For the individual, stepping into interim assignments can lead to career progression based on their skillset, expertise, and personal preferences, while gaining more flexibility and autonomy over their working life.
For businesses, these times of upheaval present a fantastic opportunity to restructure, regroup, and redefine mission and value objectives. By capitalising on the experiences of a highly reputable interim, they can achieve a faster and more effective turnaround of their respective projects or business transformation, whilst ensuring their existing leaders retain the capacity and headspace needed to deliver their own remit of work. Simultaneously, interims will step in unbiased, with a fresh mindset and clear set of eyes, unburdened by company politics, to focus purely on deliverables. And while this transition period might not always be the easiest, it provides existing employees with the chance to be heard and seen by someone new, without preconception or prejudice, which can give them a boost in confidence and allow them to step-up too.
Ultimately, bringing on board an interim manager will ensure continued business success, safeguarding jobs, and bringing about positive change. Because change is good and needed.
If you would like to have an informal chat about stepping into an interim role, or brining on board an interim, please contact Bambos Eracleous.