Successful Mergers Part II

So once you get the people part right. Another essential factor is effective leadership and having crystal clear objectives and direction. Not only the general purpose of the new organization, but 3 month, 6 month and the medium and long-term goals of the organization should be so clear that it is virtually  impossible for employees, management and customers to misunderstand them.

Effective communication is essential for companies to perform well and is even more vital for successful mergers. Both internal and external communication is the key to keeping employees on the right track, retaining customers and maintaining organizational stability. So why don’t all organizations communicate effectively?

Internal communication is not a legal obligation. External communication, sometimes being a legal requirement, is generally better handled than internal communications.

Communication can be time intensive for senior leaders. During the uncertainty, there might be clear and immediate answers to questions raised by the
employees, but it takes a substantial amount of time to communicate this, which managers may be reluctant to spend. Communication can include tough messages. There are, in general, very hard and sensitive decisions to take during the merger. Managers may be unwilling to be completely open and transparent with employees for fear of employee resistance and productivity loss. However, a lack of communication can create the same, and even worse.

It is difficult to quantify the results of communication. It, therefore, turns out to be more ‘desirable’ than mission-critical. Nevertheless effective
communication builds trust and acceptance, and keeps employees focused on the important work. It can mitigate damage caused by the ‘rumor mill’ and relieve anxiety.

Successful communication can inspire faith in and support of the company’s vision and culture. The key element of successful communication is two-way
communication. Listening as well as telling enables management to convey business, strategic or tactical decisions and receive important employee input.
What can enable effective communication in mergers?

Researching your audience.  Asking them what they want to know, and how they wish to be communicated with.

Getting senior leaders to lead the effort, and model the required behaviors.  Communicating clear and consistent messages. Training and supporting managers to leverage the power of face to face communication with their employees.

Monitoring the effectiveness of your communication, by using effective listening tactics. Besides the human factors, some management issues can occur during the integration phase, and hence establishing an integration team (even small mergers should have a focused team) that is charged with developing plans, projects and tasks to ensure the successful completion of integration is vital. This team should be given the financial and time resources to accomplish this critical step in the change process.

Last but not least; all the quick wins or achievement needs to be shared within the organization as soon as possible. Celebrating and publicizing those wins to everyone boosts morale and enhances productivity.

Mergers are difficult processes that require very good leadership and communication skills, crystal clear objectives, very good planning, show cases and most importantly the best people in the organizations to accomplish a thorough job.