Making Sense of a Company Merger: 4 Tips to Getting Both Cultures on the Same Page

Culture June 28, 2018

Making Sense of a Company Merger: 4 Tips to Getting Both Cultures on the Same Page

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.

Though some company mergers or acquisitions may be years in the making, the truth is that they happen every single day, whether by way of very public announcements or quietly without notice. Still, to the people inside the companies there’s no hiding the obvious: mergers can be stressful, often with more questions than answers.

John Hren, a Business Director for multinational basic minerals mining and marketing company, intimately understands the inner workings of a company merger—and how to come out on the other side unscathed. His insights shed light on the positive actions that should be quickly implemented if your company desires to unite cohesively and effectively without skipping a beat:

Have a Vision That People Can Buy Into

First things first Hren says, “If you don’t have a vision that both sides believe in and can work towards, then you’re already a step behind.” Successful mergers happen when the leadership teams are able to not only distinctly define their values and mission—but also communicate them effectively—thus eliminating confusion about the direction and goals of the company. “It’s important that the vision and overall brand you’re setting forth is authentic if you want your employees to truly buy into it.”

Get Both Sides Focused

With the goals and values clearly aligned for the newest version of a merged company, Hren suggests working on the quick wins, “Get both sides focused on tasks and sub-tasks that can be achieved quickly. Having common goals to focus on—and completing them side by side—helps to bring the two different cultures together in the early stages.”

Provide Feedback and Incentives

Work to provide valuable and immediate feedback to the work that’s being completed to keep the spirits of your newly blended employees high. Incentives help to motivate team members to go beyond the normal call of their positions—and in the atmosphere directly following a merger companies can use all of the success they can get.

Hren mentions a key incentive program that helps fellow team members reward one another, “Employees nominate their co-workers for going above and beyond on something. Once the submission is reviewed—which happens typically within a 30 day period—the nominated employee receives a reward of actual shares in the company.” This type of colleague recognition is vital during a rebuilding period when two cultures are trying to unite into one.

Know What Motivates Them

Finally, once the dust begins to settle, Hren warns against letting the motivation settle, as well. To keep it high you must understand what motivates them in the first place though—and with a workforce overflowing with various generations this can be difficult to determine. “Merging two cultures of different generations isn’t as simple as you’d think because they tend to have different sets of values, needs and motivators. What the leadership team must do is figure out what moves them—both, personally and professionally—and often this means being willing to think outside of the box if you want to avoid a stagnant culture.”

For older generations the key motivators are typically financial stability and insurances. While finances still play a role to an extent, the younger generations—especially Millennials—are looking for more from life and the companies they work for. “Millennials are more interested in work-life balance and being a part of the ‘greater good,’ so options such as flex work hours or opportunities to contribute to society are incredibly appealing to them.”