Change management during mergers
Last year we wrote about content strategy after mergers and acquisitions. While many infrastructure decisions and changes need to be made, change management on the personnel side is critical for success.
Managing through change
Whether you are a content strategist, you manage departments, or you manage teams, work life during a merger or acquisition can get interesting. Reporting structures will change. Systems need to align. New technology must be implemented. How people cope with these big changes will vary, and reactions can be subtle or extreme.Communication and openness are critical. Your new company has core business reasons for combining the other companies. Employees need to understand these reasons, and understand how they fit into the business plan. Likewise, senior management needs to understand how tactical staff are responding to this new environment, and understand what issues or needs they have.
Management needs to promote transparency. Clearly communicating both upward and downward ensures that everyone understands the reasons for, benefits of, and impediments to embracing change.
Tips for success
Business goals are usually hardened even before a merger or acquisition is complete. Change may be unavoidable; however, you can shape the teams you work with.
- Make a point of getting people talking. Encourage them to reach out to their new coworkers. Foster their new professional relationships and promote collaboration across these once disparate teams.
- Make no decisions in a vacuum. Be transparent about additional changes you need to make (even the unpopular ones) and solicit honest feedback. You may receive better alternative ideas.
- Talk to everyone directly. Find out what’s been working well, what hasn’t been working well, and whether they have any ideas for improvement.
- Identify people with specific job knowledge and acknowledge their expertise. Encourage your teams to collaborate with these people to grow their collective skills.
- Have regular global meetings or work sessions, and encourage all teams to use a shared chat or forum. This will prevent isolation and promote continued collaboration as the teams discover more about each other.
- If you have a travel budget, encourage your teams to visit each other. Meeting face to face and working in each other’s environment is one of the best ways to spark collaboration and build mutual understanding.
- Avoid negativity. Not all change is pleasant. Focus on the positive aspects of the merger while acknowledging the negative. Remind everyone of how they contribute toward key business goals and maintain focus on those goals.