Any merger will present challenges to a training department, even if it's already overtaxed with other demands. And according to Gene Frank, chief knowledge officer at SRA International, a federal government contractor in Fairfax, Va., each acquisition is different—and each is hard in its own way. His first piece of advice to training managers about to embark on the process is to outline for corporate management, in the greatest possible detail, how training requirements for a new influx of workers will require additional resources. That's because, inevitably, it will.
"Corporate management tends to say that you're going to do the same thing you've always done, you're just going to do more of it, and you have to just do a little bit for a little while," he says. "But, boy, is that a tremendous burden. You're suddenly faced with all this additional workload—scheduling courses, making things happen. All those things associated with a corporate training program are suddenly, massively increased."
As Frank has found, no matter how many times he has gone through the process, helping people cross the bridge from one culture to another never gets any easier. "The two we are doing this year are just as difficult as the first ones, even though we know a whole lot more," he says.
David Austin, says that when it comes to M&As, there always is a winner and a loser, and some people won't be able to live with that. Austin, chief operating officer for Contextware, a software company in Annandale, Va., echoes Frank's warning about resources. He adds that training officers and CLOs also need to prepare themselves and their staffs for the inevitable churn in the newly combined company. They must also steel themselves for the additional duties that will come as they are asked to train replacements for those who leave.