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联想的企业并购秘籍

• Caroline Fairchild 2014年11月04日

在联想高歌猛进的全球并购背后,有两位女性高管在竭力促成企业文化不断进化,跟上公司并购的步伐。

    2007年,友兰达•康耶丝(Yolanda Conyers)出任联想公司(Lenovo)文化整合与多元化的最高负责人,可是上任不到三个月,就有不少人反映她对中国同事不大尊重。康耶丝来自美国德州亚瑟港,待人素来彬彬有礼。在得知这一批评后,她大吃一惊,因为她自认为已极尽可能地对新团队礼数周到。

    原来,康耶丝的努力迷失在了翻译中。比如,在向公司上级发送电子邮件“要求(request)”开会时,她自认为措辞非常谦逊有礼——可问题恰恰就出在“要求”一词。在汉语中,“要求”是在领导找下级开会时才能用。由于对这一情况毫不知情,康耶丝无异于在向她的新老板们宣示她才是上级。

    “这看起来是小事,可这样的小事多了,就会产生很多不信任。”在接受《财富》(Fortune)采访时,康耶丝反思道:“我们要作出很大的努力,才能理解公司内部不同的文化,以及每个人行为处事的想法。”

    自联想在2005年收购IBM的个人电脑业务以来,这家中国公司高调进行了一系列的收购。作为全球最大的个人电脑厂商,联想上周四宣布,公司已从谷歌(Google)手中完成了对摩托罗拉(Motorola)移动业务的收购,交易金额高达29.1亿美元。本次并购使联想成为全球第三大智能手机厂商。每当联想完成一笔跨国收购之后,公司员工就变得更加多元,企业架构也更为复杂。目前,联想拥有超过60,000名员工,分布在60多个国家。

    这就是联想请康耶丝来的目的。在收购IBM的PC业务之后不久,联想遭遇了各种企业文化方面的问题,也丧失了不少商业机会。公司意识到,必须更为重视企业并购后的人员整合问题。作为联想第一任首席多元化官,康耶丝的工作是在尊重个人文化背景差异的情况下整合企业文化,从而达到公司的整体目标。

    要将公司凝聚为一体,康耶丝自己首先得理解中国文化。从2009到2012年,她决定来联想中国总部北京工作和生活,并求教于联想人力资源高级副总裁乔健,来帮助她适应文化上的过渡。乔健目前在北京工作,但是2005年时她也做出过类似的决定——到联想美国总部北卡州罗利工作和生活。在适应美国公司文化的过程中,乔健也遭遇过不少困难。比如,她当时并不知道,如果她在会议上不经常主动发言,她的美国同事就会以为她没做准备。

    两位女性互为依赖,以理解整个组织内的企业行为折射的细微差异,同时鼓励其他同事们也这么做。

    “你需要花时间去倾听,花时间去了解人们所处的困境以及他们的关系,”康耶丝总结说。“我需要花时间去生活在这个环境里面。和过去相比,现在我是一个更称职的全球性领导者。”

    在最近发布的《联想之道》(The Lenovo Way)一书中,康耶丝和乔健分享了自身的经历,同时也介绍了联想发展成为一家真正的全球性企业前所走过的道路。该书概括了这一技术巨头最初在面临企业文化冲撞时所遭遇的困境,并记录了联想如何成功跻身成为全球最大的国际计算机销售巨擘。对于康耶丝和乔健来说,在一次又一次新的并购中找出凝聚不同员工的方法,与整合供应链和分销网络同样重要。她们在采访中表示,如果没有相应的人力资源方面的具体计划配合,并购的努力往往会付诸东流。

    Within three months of being hired as chief diversity officer at Lenovo in 2007, Yolanda Conyers received some feedback that she was being disrespectful to her Chinese coworkers. Conyers, a perfectly polite woman from Port Arthur, Tex., was taken aback by the critique because she thought she had worked tirelessly to be polite to her new team.

    It turns out that Conyers efforts were getting lost in translation. She thought she was being very deferential when she sent emails to her senior colleagues to “request” a meeting. But the word request translates in Mandarin to a term that executives use when asking for a meeting with someone below them. Without knowing it, Conyers was telling her new managers that she thought she was above them.

    “It sounds small, but those small things can generate a lot of mistrust,” Conyers said in an interview with Fortune. “We had to go through a lot of effort to understand the different cultures within the company and the reasons people behave the way they do.”

    Since 2005 when Lenovo bought IBM’s PC business, the Chinese company has gone on a spree of high-profile acquisitions. Most recently, the world’s largest personal-computer maker said on Thursday that it had completed a $2.91 billion acquisition of Google’s Motorola Mobility unit. The merger makes Lenovo the third-largest smartphone maker. Each time Lenovo buys an overseas company, its staff gets more diverse and its corporate structure more complicated. Today, the company has more than 60,000 employees across 60 countries.

    That’s where Conyers comes in. After a slew of culture problems and missed business opportunities shortly after Lenovo acquired part of IBM, the company realized it needed to take a harder look at its strategy for combining new teams. Now serving as Lenovo’s first-ever diversity officer, Conyers’s job is to figure out how to align the company behind common goals while respecting everyone’s differences.

    But before Conyers could worry about bringing the company together, she needed to understand Chinese culture for herself. She decided to live and work out of Lenovo’s headquarters in China from 2009 to 2012 and she turned to Gina Qiao, Lenovo’s SVP of Human Resources, to guide her through the transition. Qiao, who works out of Beijing, made a similar decision in 2005 when she lived and worked out of Lenovo’s Raleigh, North Carolina offices. Qiao also struggled to understand American workplace culture. She didn’t realize that when she didn’t speak up constantly in meetings, her American coworkers assumed she hadn’t prepared.

    The two women relied on each other to understand the nuances of corporate behavior across the organization and encouraged their co-workers to do the same.

    “You need to take the time to listen more and take time to get to know people’s struggles and their relationships,” said Conyers. “I needed to take the time to go live in that environment and now I am such a better global leader as a result.”

    Conyers and Qiao outline both their personal journeys along side Lenovo’s path to becoming a truly global company in the recently released book The Lenovo Way. The book outlines the tech giant’s initial struggles with corporate culture clashes and traces how Lenovo successfully became the largest company in the world in global computer sales. For Conyers and Qiao, figuring out how to bring people together with each new acquisition is just as essential as mixing supply chains and distributions networks. Without a concrete plan of the human side of things, mergers and acquisitions too often fail, they told Fortune.

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