Merger Impact on Employees
A seasoned manager knows almost any change, small or large, employees will react. How strong an employee reacts is based on the change and the individual personalities of the employees. Some employees just move forward quickly and others need to process the change, yet
all employees need communication around the change.
I worked at one company that acquired 12 different small boutique businesses into the company. You can be assured I became knowledgeable in integrating new employees. Yet with all of my experience, each acquisition had it’s unique issues in the merger. The existing employees, though use to acquisitions, still reacted.
Mergers bring out the core fear in employees. Managers are employees so you too will react to the change. The major overall concern is about their role in the company and how the merger will impact them. I found on Gordon Training this great blog post on “Managing Employees Through a Merger” by Scott Seroka. He provides a list of fears that need to be addressed in a merger. These are concerns that employees feel and even if they don’t voice them, assume they are there and management has to respond to them.
Going through a merger can be a frustrating and chaotic situation for everyone in an organization, and the news of a merger can ignite fear into employees as they try to get answers to questions such as:
These concerns should be discussed throughout management and a communication plan needs to be developed before the merger is announced. From my experience, every manager will continuously communicate not only in the initial stage of the merger, but ongoing for several weeks. The front line managers will be responsibile for ongoing communication to the employees.
The newly acquired employees have proven themselves in their current company and now need to prove their value again in a larger company. The existing employees of the acquiring company will be concerned whether this acquisition will jeopardize their job.
As a manager, understand your reaction to the merger, what it means to you, how you will handle your team’s questions, will you lose people or have more responsibilities. The more you understand your reactions to the merger, you will be able to offer the employees a clear message in your communication. If you are concerned around your own position, you will communicate this to the employees. You may still be concerned, and yet you are management so need to be there for your team.
Change is necessary in life and scary at the same time. Both realities exist at the same time. Your role as a manager is to communicate clearly and openly the reasons for the change, as well as acknowledge their concerns around how this will impact each person.
Outside of the logistics of the merger, the next most important action is to create a communication plan. This plan includes the announcement and ongoing communication efforts throughout the initial integration until the employees have settled down and start to be productive again.
The communication plan should have several different ways to communicate the same information: face-to-face meeting, meeting with acquired employees, email, company handouts, department meetings and HR support for employees who are emotionally reacting to the change.
I stressed to all managers, you will need to over communicate throughout the process. Be prepared that reactions will go longer than you anticipate. Having said that, create a time limit; for example, 2 months after the merger all employees should be back on board.
The return of stability will be dependent on the level of changes that have occurred in the merger. If no one loses their jobs, normalcy may be shorter. If employees lose their jobs because of redundancy, then it will take longer to bring the morale of the company to a stronger place.
In addition, it’s important to have an integration plan in place for the acquired company. It’s possible the two cultures do not match, so an integration plan can provide the overall strategy and activities needed to help the acquired employees become comfortable and start to perform in the new culture.
It’s all about planning.
If there is no one in the organization that is skilled and knowledgeable around mergers, find an outside consultant who can guide you in communication and integration of a merger.
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