Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Merry Christmas, Back Office Synergies!

The pharase "realizing synergies" was heard often when Barry O'Callaghan was merging his little Riverdeep with the unwieldly Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt publishers. Those who lost their jobs discovered that "realizing synergies" meant "you're fired".

Those who are given the sack are often the little people who work behind the scenes, shuffling papers, answering phones, or clacking away on keyboards processing data. A merged company ends up with two people doing similar jobs, and when it's time to find ways to cut costs so that the expense of the merger can be recouped, it isn't the suits in the corner offices letting themselves go.

Ari Emanuel (brother of a mayor and an influential doctor) merged his talent agency WME with talent agency IMG, and OMG there's too much going out and not enough coming in. The investors want the return on their investment, which costs money. Where to cut? Where is the excess expenditure that can be eliminated without killing the patient?

The bottom line experts have completed their interviews and analyses and determined that a few foreign outposts can be shuttered completely. Duplicate jobs can be combined into one, thereby cutting an expense. There isn't enough income to support the costs, so the costs will have to go. Costs like salaries, you see, and it's all about realizing synergies.

Sorry that it's three weeks before Christmas, but here's your pink slip, back office synergies. You're fired.

The rumour has 100 jobs being eliminated, and out of a staff of 3,000, that isn't a huge number. Unless you're one of those 100, and future employment prospects are rather grim.

Someone has to pay the price of the merger, an investment somewhere in the $2 billion range, and that will take a lot of talent promotion to bring in some considerable commissions. It will also take some synergies getting realized right out the door, to try their luck elsewhere.

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas.

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