Sustaining a top employer brand through an integration is a critical element in mitigating M&A risks. To help your merger or acquisition deliver long-term value, here are our top 4 ways to sustain your brand:
1. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
There is no such thing as too much communication through any change management program. Be clear on your shared vision and the purpose behind the integration. Paint a compelling picture for all employees, at all levels, about the goals:
- Set expectations around key timelines and talk about your shared history.
- Use multiple forums and multiple mediums to repeat your messages and be honest and consistent.
- Make an effort to recognize the “voice” of each of the previous organizations.
- Communicate with empathy and compassion for employees.
- Be responsive to questions and concerns and ensure you follow through on commitments.
- Build credibility through honest, positive and inclusive dialogue, and know your company story and tell it with enthusiasm.
- If there are questions you do not know the answers to, it’s ok to say “I don’t know”.
2. Ensure leaders from the new, combined company have the tools, resources, information to lead
A merger is essentially the creation of a completely new organization and it’s important to spend time helping the leadership team get oriented to the new shared company.
The way business decisions get made is tied very strongly to the culture of an organization. To create new partnerships and maintain forward momentum, it’s important to get people working together quickly.
- Set clear expectations around what needs to be accomplished
- Identify which teams are responsible for specific tasks
- Work with the new combined teams to develop a common system for making decisions and accomplishing concrete tasks together. Collaboration is a fast way to help leaders develop relationships and build trust with each other.
Support your leaders in modeling these collaborative behaviours necessary to keep your employees engaged.
3. Include new employees in the change management process
Create project teams that include employees from both previous companies wherever practical. Successful mergers depend upon not creating the perception of a “second-class” section divided along old company lines.
Make sure any employee brand project teams have clear expectations and there are tangible goals. When the team is successful in obtaining specific objectives together, there are more reasons to celebrate new, shared victories which help develop the new EVP.
4. Take the time to understand the new company culture and EVP
Whatever the EVP of each of the previous companies may have been, the new combined company will have a new, unique EVP so don’t expect to be able to communicate that to employees immediately.
- An EVP must be an honest reflection of the employee experience which will need to be developed over time through shared experience.
- Take the time to understand what the culture is truly like at the new company, and what employees value about working there.
- Use survey tools, interviews and focus groups to gather information for conducting a GAP analysis to determine the similarities between your old EVP and the new company’s EVP.
Don’t try to change everything about the culture; seek to understand it and to focus on the shared values, common principles and how they tie in to tangible corporate objectives.