An acquaintance of mine has recently undergone a merger at her corporation. As a mid-level employee, she knew it was coming; her company had announced a few months ago, but she hadn't heard any specific details other than it was going to happen.
When the time came for the companies to merge, there was confusion, misalignment, and miscommunication. Unfortunately when merging companies, often preparing employees for coming change has been left off the agenda or is an afterthought. Trust me that it is just as important, if not more so, to make the teams are prepared for the merger as it is to worry about day to day operations. The long term success of the merged company depends on the communication strategy to communicate with employees.
Here are 4 Ways to Prepare Your Employees for a Merger or Acquisition:
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
If you think you are communicating too much, you most likely are not. Employees would rather feel like they have too much information than not enough information. Provide too little information, and minds start to run wild with ideas about promotions, layoffs, and everything in between. Many CEOs try to figure out how to tell employees about a merger, but you should make sure that you are open and honest about the situation. Communicating merger to employees open and honestly is the most important thing that you can do. Typically the senior management is accountable for breaking the news, but most of the questions are going to be asked to team leaders as the employees are most likely to feel comfortable to ask them.
2. Stay Focused
During a merger, you may expect employees to be distracted. However, you need to keep them focused on your company's core purpose. Remind them why they are important, and how their role is critical to the company and its purpose. Don't let the merger ruin the culture of either company, take the both of best of both worlds post merger. Business leaders need to stay focused on integrating the new company and keeping employee engagement high during the merger integration.
3. Be Honest
Changes are bound to happen in a merger; you can't avoid it. Be honest with your employees that status quo will not remain, things are going to change. This is more than a financial transaction and merging balance sheets, it is merging two living, breathing organizations and their culture. Any attempt at obfuscating the truth will be filled with rumors. Don't let your team fill the void, let them know everything that you can.
According to an article on Monster.com, "Even if you're the company that's taking over, some of your people will have to alter their current roles or take on brand new ones. Have private discussions with those you think will probably be most affected. Notify them sooner than later. You want to give them as much lead time as possible to prepare. Then, when the ax falls (or they get promoted), the transitions will flow smoother."
4. Change Management
How will employees' jobs change? How will the org chart change in your company? Who will be the single source of truth during the transition? According to Insperity, "One of the biggest reasons mergers and acquisitions fail is due to poor change management. As a result, how you interact with employees and manage the change process can be the difference between success and failure as you merge two organizations. This is where your communication plan and leadership team alignment will pay off."
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