Use our experience to improve your chances of success

Organisations look to the merger and acquisition process to create a combined offer that is greater than the sum of their individual parts. Their goal may be to achieve efficiencies and economies of scale, whilst others may use the opportunity to increase capability by expanding skill sets, increasing geographic reach or reinforce their position within the sector. Whatever the objective, there are steps to  improve the potential for merger and acquisition change success.

1. Honestly establish the culture of the organisation early in the process

The transition takes considerable resource to implement and yet many are unsuccessful and leave a legacy within the organisation’s memory. One reason for this could be that considerable emphasis is placed on the tangible areas – buildings, systems, legal contracts etc, whilst overlooking the hearts and minds of employees who may have made the initial proposition so attractive in the first place. This is ironic, as cultural differences can also cost the most and take the longest to address.

Successful cultural integration is achieved based on compatible beliefs and values, so place people and culture at the centre of your change programme right from the initial feasibility study. Investigate the differences and impact assess; be realistic about the work needed to bridge the gaps.

2. Ensure those tasked with organisational engagement are well experienced in your culture and values

Values and beliefs are human traits, to build trust between the organisations, person to person engagement is invaluable. Making sure those who are closest to the organisation’s values and culture are engaged is critical to genuine engagement and building trust.

3. Don’t assume that everyone will want to work for you

It’s important to understand what drives people to work for their current organisation and the implications the change may have. Ignore this, and the staff you may want and need, could react negatively or dissengage. Employees need to feel and experience positive beliefs and values themselves, so don’t automatically assume a new culture will appeal to the employees who are transferring.

Also, don’t ignore previous experiences. The people involved may have “heard it all before”. They have their own history that is outside your organisational history, but will have an impact on their perception of the current situation.

4. Is the level of risk worth it?

When your assessment is complete, consider the risk of misalignment between the two cultures – is the gap bridgeable? Often unwinding cultural mismatch can take significant time, effort, and resource. Ultimately this will derail your programme or have significant ongoing impact on the new merged organisation. Can your organisation afford this? Deciding not to proceed at this stage will have less impact than leaving it until later in the process.

5. Integrate rather than impose

Integration is key. Work jointly to establish a set of shared values which are communicated well to reduce any negative behaviours towards the merger.  Two-way open communication will enable the best elements from both cultures to be selected and taken forward. This approach ensures no one organisation has the monopoly on best practice.