Updated: May 11
What makes a merger successful? While the main concern when two companies merge is to keep the operations as smooth as possible and continue to deliver value to customers, many mergers forgets that an important part of ensuring a successful transition is by humanizing the merger. What does humanizing your merger mean? This means that you should consider the employees and keep them engaged as well as excited about the merger and what it means for their future.
When thinking about humanizing your merger, one thing that is crucial is to prioritize culture and have guiding principles to embrace and promote diversity and inclusion to ensure that none of the merging cultures are dismissed. This is extremely helpful in making sure that the company cultures align properly and this trickles down to seamless business operations by the employees. So if you are figuring out how best to make the merger successful, you cannot afford to ignore the impact of culture, diversity and inclusion and hence, HR, Communication strategists and the company leaders should keep this in mind when guiding the merger to success.
In fact, according to the Journal of International Business Studies, alienating the cultures in any of the merging companies can limit the overall success of the merger. As a result, here are some things that you should consider to humanize your merger and ensure that your employees across both companies are supportive and excited about it.
1. Prioritize People
While mergers have the effect of changing a lot of things for the brands, processes and products, the largest impact is felt by your employees. If you put yourself in the shoes of your employees, then you will understand their fears and risks regarding to the merger. This helps in assessing these risks that may present obstacles in the process of making the merger work. While employees rarely are involved in the nitty gritties of the merging process, that they are affected means that you need to raise their morale and ensure that they are supportive of the process by considering their needs.
Developing a communication plan is one of the most important first steps to resolve any hurdles the employees face, anticipate their concerns, and reactions as well answer their questions to get a hold of their fears. Mergers may fail for a myriad of different reasons but every merger has one thing in common which is people (Thehrdirector). In your communication plan, here are the fears that you should address to ensure that employees in every merger and acquisition feel included.
Address the fear of job loss
With every merger, there is fear that some jobs will be phased out. This can create rumors and tension and lead to paralyzed operations. To overcome this fears, ensure that you give clear communication as to what they should expect regarding their roles and expertise. This communication will combat any misinformation, insecurity and uncertainty.
Address Mistrust in Leadership
Change in leadership can create mistrust among employees and hence, it is important to ensure transparency regarding the merger’s leadership by ensuring regular communication is maintained. The leadership should also respond to employees’ feedback and queries to ensure that they combat mistrust and misinformation.
Address the Fear of Cultural Misfit
Every merger results in a combination of cultures which in turn creates a number of challenges and hence, it is important to address it early on instead of try to resolve cultural issues down the line. Since employees are the ones that feel the effect of this culture shock, then it is important to include them in developing a shared culture by engaging them and helping them connect with each other as well as share their contributions and accomplishments. Using focus groups and surveys to determine if the cultures fit is a great step towards ensuring culture alignment.
2. Ensure Effective Change Management
With a merger, there are a lot of changes that you should anticipate. Change has an impact on employees and hence creates uncertainty and even dissatisfaction and misinformation if not effectively managed. A robust change management strategy is therefore imperative if you are to succeed in humanizing your merger. At the Bioscience Boardroom, we know that how you manage the change process can make all the difference. As such, to avoid failure due to poor change management, then you will need a good plan. Models such as the Change Cycle are great if implemented early on as they are a guiding principle to the leadership and employees to navigate the changes a merger brings as well as the reactions too this changes. Insperity postulates that change management plans fail as a result of oversights such as failing to involve HR early enough, underestimating and failing to understand the needs and concerns of employees, failing to engage and guide the company leadership and failing to invest the necessary resources and time to ensure seamless integration.
3. Maintain Communication
According to Mckinsey, one of the major mistakes that mergers make is failing to communicate beyond the announcement of the merger. This makes post-launch integration quite challenging as employees are uncertain and fearful of what is to come. Therefore, communicate and talk about both the happy talk of bringing the two companies together for success and substantive talk about the look and roles of employees in the integration process. You may outsource some of the human resources work to guide the employees. In a nutshell, maintaining transparency, authentic operations and communication will help the companies gain the support of all the workers and therefore lead to the success of the merger.
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