Post-Merger Integration

Have you prepared your employees for the change that’s coming?

Mergers happen in waves aligned with business cycles

A merger or acquisition signals a change that will have long-lasting impacts on an organization.  Maybe it’s a reshuffling of the organization’s structure or perhaps the intended benefit is to drive a shift in organizational priorities.  Whatever the intention, mergers, and acquisitions should be an exciting period of growth and opportunity. 

Unfortunately, 70% -90% of acquisitions fail to deliver the intended benefit.*  No wonder employees often react to mergers with skepticism, discomfort, or fear.  The majority of your teams’ experiences likely haven’t been positive. 

But don’t despair!  You can prepare your team for the changes that are coming, defy the odds, and achieve successful post-merger integration.


Up to 90% of acquisitions fail to deliver the intended benefit

*Rodger L. Martin, Harvard Business Review, June 2016

Employee engagement:  The forgotten secret sauce

When you’re merging organizations, it’s natural to expect some resistance along the way.  From the strategy to the deal to the business model, there’s no shortage of critical decisions to make.  But you can’t ignore the fact that successful M&A is only possible when you secure the willing participation of people.  They are the secret to effective post-merger integration.

Create an integration checklist that focuses on people, not just revenue.

Identify the pain points with the highest risk *hint: they are usually customer-facing.

Be as transparent as possible.  Tell people as much as you can, as soon as you can.

Overcommunicate.  The potential for post-merger turnover and disengagement is huge.

Put your Post-Merger Integration pieces in place

The effects of a merger play out like dominoes across an organization.  Department interactions change from customer service to the C-suite.  That’s why it’s critical to take a proactive approach with people.  Otherwise, you risk letting the dominoes fall where they may.

  • Think about the people-side of integration before the deal is done.  Identify and involve the hidden leaders who are critical to retain.
  • Develop Guiding Principles for your integration.  Document them, repeat them, and apply them to inform decision making.
  • Understand the cultural differences between the organizations.  Maintaining separate identities will fail.  It’s essential to signal regular, incremental, moves to align the cultures.
  • When talking with employees, use repetitive messaging to regularly reaffirm the vision and speak to their concerns.  Interrupt the unproductive inner monologue:  Do I have a job?  Who do I report to?  What will I be paid?

“The most challenging aspects of integrating companies are best addressed by honesty and candor.  Operating with openness eases some of the biggest pain points.”

Phil Clarke

Vice President, Clerestory

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