Going Through a Merger? Check Your Three T’s to Ensure Success

Culture June 1, 2018

Going Through a Merger? Check Your Three T’s to Ensure Success

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.

Anytime a company goes through a merger or acquisition, there is bound to be uncertainty and hesitation. The underlying questions of “What’s next?” and “Is my job safe?” are natural throughout the process for team members looking for answers. From a leadership point of view however, there is an increased pressure to remain calm, address the issues and ensure a successful transition for the people looking to you for guidance. For Danielle Norman, System Director for Human Resources at Presence Health, she signals three keys to making it through an acquisition unscathed:


While many companies typically attempt to keep as many employees as possible throughout a merger, ultimately it comes down to what makes sense—and sometimes, WHO, makes sense. “Everyone is scared of turnover, but in truth, it is healthy and necessary. You have to be okay with people leaving—it’s a part of business. It’s important to not focus on what went wrong, but instead, how can we fix it going forward.” To understand the numbers behind their turnover, Presence Health turns to metrics to see who is leaving, from what departments, when, and why; this information helps their leadership and human resource teams to rework their strategies and address any issues.

Sometimes however, it’s simply a matter of needing to find the right people for the right positions when starting anew. “When our current CEO started here a few years ago, he brought in a lot of new leaders to take the positions others held, but it was necessary to make the changes that were essential for our company.”


Additionally, Norman points to the need for transparency when healing or creating a new culture throughout a merger. “I’m a big believer in doing the right thing and at the end of the day, being accountable and transparent is a big part of that. When I first came here three years ago, I found a lack of accountability, but our CEO has changed the behaviors and attitudes to help our employees from the top down embrace it.”

Though transparency is important at all stages of a company, there is an explicit need for it during a transitional period. It offers not only reassurance, but also a guiding light through a normally confusing time. One way to accomplish this is through clear-cut systems according to Norman, “It needs to make sense—if it’s not logical enough for people to figure out, then it’s not designed properly.”

Other Ways to Be Transparent During a Merger:

  • Embrace and inspire a culture of maintaining an open mindset
  • Frequently and quickly respond to questions/concerns
  • Reestablish company values
  • Ask for suggestions
  • Explain the status of the merger throughout various stages
  • Be transparent with all news—good or bad


Finally, it’s about owning the idea that the company is truly transforming from the inside out. “This is the time to embrace figuring out who we are as a company now—and how do we serve our community the best. How we do that starts with us: we want our employees to care for our patients the same way we care for our employees.”

Throughout the transformation of their culture, Presence Health—like so many other companies—use engagement surveys to feel out the needs and opinions. While an annual survey is taken, it’s often the pulse surveys—comprising of small, frequent questions in a less formal setting—that gives the best insight into the current “health” of the company culture.