Way to Get Your Employees Through a Merger or Acquisition

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Passion March 13, 2018

Way to Get Your Employees Through a Merger or Acquisition

Jason Richmond
Jason is passionate about helping large companies embrace outstanding culture. He engages with clients by sharing his passion for learning and instilling a sense of leadership and confidence with everyone.

For anyone that’s been around the block a time or two, more than likely, you’re acutely aware that mergers and acquisitions are a normal part of business. For those in the C-Suite positions, these are expected—and often long-planned out negotiations. For the employees working the daily grind, however, their focus isn’t always on the “big picture”—and hearing words like ‘merger’ or ‘acquisition’ often stir doubts and fear about the direction of the company or the safety of their positions. In these moments it’s what the leadership team does—and does not do—that can help alleviate the concerns of their hardworking employees.

Explain the Situation

While both situations are defined as a “consolidation of companies” the lack of understanding regarding leadership roles and which company will take the lead certainly has the potential to make your employees anxious about their futures. It’s important to explain to your team the basic differences between the two: a merger combines two companies into one, while an acquisition is one company taking over another.

Communication

Communication is the bread and butter of any organizational culture—but in the midst of a consolidation, it’s one of the most critical aspects for everyone involved. Eileen Boyle, System Director of Executive Recruitment and Talent Management at Presence Health, explains that while going through an acquisition “communication is the key—it’s our jobs to ensure that the larger population of associates understands what is happening. One thing that our CEO has been doing for a while now is that he holds regular video meetings to answer the questions that our team has recently asked. They’re not every week, but they have a good cadence to them and especially now—where the topic de jour surrounds our current acquisition—he is able to answer questions so everyone understands what’s going on. At the end of the day, people want to know ‘How is this going to impact me?’”

Stay Calm

For executives especially, a merger is a hectic period of time—and it’s easy to get lost in the daily negotiations, travel, and meetings necessary to be successful. However, it’s important to remember that the stress—and the gossip—is very much alive throughout the company and for that reason, leaders need to maintain a calm environment.

“We want to make sure that we don’t create chaos on top of everything else,” says Boyle. “It’s important to stabilize our associates because you’ll begin to hear all sorts of buzz, so we have to manage the information that’s being expressed. At the end of the day, associates need to be smart about the information they’re hearing from every corner of the company, stay calm and look to their managers and CEO for guidance.”

Keep the Spirit Alive

Finally, it’s never a bad idea to reenergize the spirits of your employees. Keeping a healthy culture despite the pending transition can help take their attention off the elephant in the room. “It’s the little things you do. Ultimately, people are people and you want your associates to feel comforted. Continue to celebrate the birthdays and holidays as they come up—it’s these small acts that will bring everyone together to share in the fun and community—and stop talking about all the noise.”