A merger or acquisition play is a risky one, since the vast majority of mergers and acquisitions fail. As you weigh and seek to manage each risk, make sure you’re not risking your most important asset: Your people.
Did you know that between 70% and 90% (Forbes) of mergers and acquisitions fail? Every situation and every reason for failure is different, but there’s one thing that every single merger and acquisition has in common: People.
As you create your checklist of things to do to ensure a successful transaction and transition — everything from vetting the leadership to scrutinizing the financials to examining operational processes — make sure that communication with your employees tops the list. Otherwise, you could risk damaging employee engagement, a factor that contributes to success far more than you may think.
Here are three fears your employees may be having as you approach or are in the midst of either a merger or acquisition. Knowing that these fears may exist, and having strategies to overcome them, can help rally employee sentiment in favor of your organisation at this most critical time.
The fear: They’ll lose their job.
How to overcome it: Combat uncertainty and insecurity with information. Many times, employees fear being laid off or otherwise not having a secure role within an organisation because they don’t hear anything to the contrary; they don’t get information letting them know their role and expertise will be needed in the new company.
Of course, you don’t want to mitigate a valid fear if layoffs are a real possibility. They can be part of the territory when it comes to mergers and acquisitions.
But if at the very least employees have a centralized space (such as within an employee communications app) to ask questions or have ready access to a steady flow of resources about the merger or acquisition and what they can expect, that can help guard against rumours and other misinformation.
The fear: They can’t trust leadership
How to overcome it: Be as visible, accessible and forthcoming as you can possibly be. The same goes for the rest of the leadership team, in both camps.
Transparency is the key word throughout any transition, so develop strategies that, again, keep the flow of information as constant as you can. Regular leadership updates posted to an employee communications app are one way of doing this.
Also, look at ways to implement circular communication, which allows employees to respond or react to your updates. You could also consider creating a task force to track and hold leadership accountable to acting on employee feedback.
The fear: They won’t fit in or like the new culture
How to overcome it: Combining cultures presents a number of challenges, and it’s best to be proactive, rather than reactive down the road.
Company culture is most felt by those in the trenches, so it can be an effective strategy to let employees contribute to the development of a shared culture, rather than try to enforce a culture from the top ranks.
Enable teams and individuals to collaborate across departments and to create their own in-app multimedia content. Provide a medium for peers to recognize each other’s contributions and accomplishments. Involved, engaged employees who feel valued can go farther to instill culture than directives from corporate ever can.
Help your company Thrive by connecting, communicating and engaging with your hard to reach, distributed workforce who may not have work emails and need a mobile app alternative to view company wide information.
If you would like to learn more about how to assess and manage employee fears during times of transition and how you can better understand your employees and successfully take critical steps to engage them during a merger or acquisition, please download our free eBook.