Approximately 70 percent of all corporate mergers are unsuccessful, according to research from the consultancy Bain & Company.
While mergers can fail for many reasons, cultural clashes at merged businesses appear to play a noteworthy role. A 2009 survey found 92 percent of respondents saying their merged business would have benefitted from a better cultural understanding ahead of the merger. Furthermore, 70 percent of respondents said too little work went into fixing cultural concerns during the integration phase.
Keeping the newly-formed company moving forward after a merger is challenging, but there are a few things managers can do to make the transition easier.
Giving staff members the chance to raise honest questions and submit ideas without worry is crucial. This can be done by setting up a system for anonymous submissions via company intranet.
Management should address submitted concerns and ideas in company-wide meetings so staff members realize that their voices are being heard. Management should also be ready to act on feedback and ideas that makes sense. Otherwise, requests for employee input will simply be seen as lip service to the idea of good communication.
Connect with company influencers
Some staff members ask tough questions and have a tendency to be candid with management. Others aren’t so outspoken but when they do speak, their colleagues listen. These natural leaders are major influencers among their peers and they tend to be passionate about their company.
During a merger, management should meet formally and informally with these influencers to take a “temperature check” of the new organization, find out what they’re hearing, provide them with accurate information and tackle their concerns. Connecting with company influencers not only helps to smooth the transition, it can also stop issues before they get bigger.
It may seem obvious, but the faster you can blend company infrastructures, the better off you’ll be.
Once a merger is official, supervisors should immediately set up one-on-one meetings with new employees to explain roles and processes. Attempts should also be made to connect people from the formerly two different companies. Team meetings, lunches and off-site events all enable their staff members to bond. Cultivating an ecosystem involving the current workers can learn from the new ones, and vice versa, is crucial.
Make sure that everybody has access to shared public folders, the company intranet, information on benefits, e-mail and contact information. Offer workers with the tools they have to do their jobs, from laptops to essential business information.
Employees will be impressed and optimistic if all this occurs on their first day or soon after the integration becomes official. Human resources, IT and other support teams must focus at the beginning to make this occur.
Provide a clear vision
Mergers are times of great uncertainty and management can address this by giving staff members a clear vision of the present and the future. Employees want to know what is going on now, and how it will lead to prosperity in the future.