When two companies with strong corporate identities and cultures merge, the result can be confusing for the employees who remain.
Understanding how to build a strong post-merger corporate culture isn’t just key to achieving seamless business mergers. It’s also vital to future success.
How do you bridge the gap between two distinct corporate cultures?
Collaboration and communication are key.
No matter what industry you are in, the following 4 steps are key to ensuring your merger is a success:
- Encourage collaboration. What does a successful collaborative partnership between employees from the two former separate entities look like? It’s important to get all team members on the same page. Split the team into mixed groups, with members from both former companies. Have everyone share an example of their best collaborative partnership. What specific qualities, behaviors, or actions made the collaboration successful or enjoyable? Then, come back together as a group to discuss. Listen for the themes and insights that emerge from the examples and agree to 5–7 criteria that are most important. This team-building session will formulate your ideal model for exemplary partnerships moving forward together.
- Assess strengths and weaknesses. Once you’ve established your ideal model, it’s time to assess your working teams. Evaluate current strengths and development needs based on your collaborative partnership criteria. As a group, use the following prompts to conduct a self-assessment discussion:
- What are we doing well? Share a few successful examples that illustrate one or more of the criteria.
- Which criteria do we need to develop further? Why? What’s the impact?
- What are some key insights or “ahas” about our strengths and weaknesses as a new team?
- Agree to specific actions to improve. Following the self-assessment, determine two or three specific actions that will help strengthen areas that need improvement. Make sure these actions are realistic, and then make a plan to implement them. As a team, what do you have to do to make these actions doable? Who is accountable for each part of the plan? Do you have a clear path forward to follow up? Be specific!
- Enhance levels of trust and increase open communication. Keep your new partnership strong by scheduling weekly and monthly communication to keep tabs on team progress. Don’t just use email; set up phone calls and live meetings to resolve key issues, gain clarity on priorities, and tackle sensitive topics. Then, use email to follow up for documentation purposes. Throughout your conversations, listen with an open mind and open heart. Give people the benefit of the doubt and ask questions to gain clarity rather than jumping to conclusions. Making others feel that their voices are heard is essential to enhancing trust in any partnership.
Corporate leaders who remember and adopt these 4 post-merger strategies can ensure their employees remain engaged through the organizational changes of post-merger.