Mergers are usually pretty exciting for shareholders and members of the leadership team given that they are the folks who are going to benefit the most financially. However, for many of the employees and staff, a merger is often met with a fair amount of apprehension. There may be uncertainty as to job stability, and there will no doubt be relatively substantial changes to operational aspects of the business. Of course, one of the biggest obstacles to the success of a merger is the melding of two distinct corporate cultures. New leadership often entails different goals and expectations, which can result in noticeable changes to the company atmosphere as well as significant shifts for many employees’ roles and responsibilities. To ensure the most successful merger possible, it is important to prioritize a satisfactory combining of company cultures. Here are some things to consider to make that happen:
Assess Fit Before Proceeding
Prior to even considering a merger with another entity, it is important to evaluate whether the existing corporate cultures will be compatible. Although one goal of any merger is to capitalize on the other party’s strengths, which likely differ in many respects, the two companies must have some semblance of similarity in order for the new venture to work. If there are drastic differences in the approach to running things, staffing procedures, budgeting, or any other core business process, the transition may end up too cumbersome to manage.
Acknowledge Concerns Early
In some cases, divergent perspectives and approaches may have to be overcome for the sake of the deal. As long as these potential concerns are acknowledged early on in the process, it should not interfere with the transition and emerging entity. In general, a merger is meant to be the joining of two relative equals, but that frequently is not the case as one side usually manages to enter with a bit more clout. Hopefully, the company that has that slight edge will be open to addressing the other side’s concerns as soon as practicable. If this does not happen, the negativity surrounding the merger may disrupt the two companies ability to seamlessly blend their cultures.
As mentioned, employees of the companies are usually the ones with the most concerns as to how the merger will unfold. Although it may not be entirely clear from the early stages how exactly things will go, there should always be some level of communication as to the ongoings. It is better to know that the state of affairs is relatively unknown than to wonder what is happening in a complete vacuum. Communication is and always will be central to the success of any business transaction, and especially when there are various stakeholders with differing interests and priorities.
Keep Employees Involved
In addition to communicating the status of a merger and the overarching intentions for the fusion of cultures, it is important for the leadership teams to ask for some employee involvement. Encouraging an open dialogue and eliciting feedback, even if not incorporated into the final plan, will at least demonstrate to those affected that their opinions do matter. Ideally, some of the issues will actually be addressed and/or suggestions included in the plan of action. After all, employees often understand the needs of a company in a much different way than leadership ever will. And, employee engagement will always be crucial to the new company’s success.