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Day One Readiness Checklist

With the right preparation for Day One, your M&A will be set up for success. Here’s how to prioritize what matters most.

Create Stability and Direction

Solidify leadership decisions by obtaining clarity and alignment on what great leadership looks like and make strong selection decisions with a consistent, objective, and transparent talent planning process.  

In the early stages of a merger or acquisition, there are two critical decisions: who will lead the organization, and how you'll decide who's the best fit for new leadership roles.

  • Create a Day One and future state operating model.
  • Develop a consistent, objective, and transparent process to select mission-critical leaders and talent.
  • Develop an executive compensation and retention strategy. 
  • Launch an Integration Management Office (including an HR IMO) and communicate interim governance decisions.
  • Define Newco’s business identity (purpose, vision, mission and values)  
  • Define the employee value proposition and a process to attract, recruit, and onboard new leaders and employees. 
  • Define critical Day One HR and talent management processes.

Move with Speed

Maximize pre-close integration planning by providing dedicated resources for an issue-free Day One.

Avoid getting bogged down in daily minutia. Inspire others toward Newco’s larger purpose, and lead them to maintain focus on customers and Newco’s integration priorities.

  • Create business-unit and functional Day-One readiness plans and 100-day plans.
  • Prioritize risks and create mitigation plans.
  • Harmonize Newco’s jobs, levels, titles, and pay so there’s an aligned approach.
  • Tackle urgent HR priorities such as payroll, technology, and operations.
  • Develop a fit-for-purpose HR operating model. 
  • Develop a Day One and longer-term talent management roadmap. 
  • Design an outplacement process to support departing employees.

Lead the Change

Build confidence by sharing why Newco will be successful, put a "one company” culture at the heart of your integration strategy, and provide employees with answers to their “what’s in it for me?” questions.

Until you align on a culture strategy, discuss what made each legacy company great. The stories mean everything. You cannot chart the right course if you don't understand what makes each business successful, how work gets done, and what people value.

  • Empower leaders to effectively lead change.
  • Develop a change and communications plan to engage the hearts and minds of employees.
  • Establish the cultural baseline (cultural similarities and differences).
  • Determine the cultural ambition for Newco and develop a roadmap to bring a "one company” culture to life.
  • Design a leadership event post close to align leaders on Newco’s vision, strategy, culture, and leadership.

Merger winners use the pre- and post-close periods to invest heavily in solidifying the Newco identity and empower leaders to embody the new values.

Getting to Success—Together

Day One readiness is about much more than risk mitigation. It’s a complete mindset shift to focus on the creation of something new—something that doesn’t yet exist.

  • 98% of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies work with Korn Ferry.
  • We develop over 1M leaders every year. 
  • Our experts know how to help your team get ready for Day One.

Are You Ready?

Achieve a winning organization—and be ready to hit the ground running on Day One. Learn more here.

How do you get to success faster with your M&A? Instead of waiting for the merger to close to tackle tough topics, hit the ground running from the beginning with Day One readiness.  

With proper Day One readiness planning, you'll have in place a strong leadership team, guidelines for fast decision-making, a view of how to build a one-company culture, and a transition plan focused on what matters most. You’ll be clearly communicating with external and internal stakeholders, sharing why your new company—Newco—isn't just the sum of Company A and Company B, but a winning combination. 

With our Day One readiness checklist, you'll find out:

  • How to create stability, direction, and focus prior to Day One 
  • How to make M&A integration decisions quickly and confidently
  • A proven plan for prioritizing and tackling tough integration topics

Download our Day One readiness checklist.