Ward to the Wise

Effective Employee Communication Drives M&A Success

effective-employee-communication-drives-m-and-a-successMergers and acquisition (M&A) activity is on the rise. According to Deloitte, 84 percent of corporate executives anticipate a sustained, if not accelerated, pace of M&A activity across several industries through mid-2015.

Unfortunately, many of these mergers may fall short of their financial projections for one simple reason – failure to effectively integrate the two organizations.

Mergers and acquisitions require extensive number-crunching and due diligence to get the deal done, but the day-to-day effort required to make it succeed falls on the shoulders of the employees.

Combining cultures, work practices, systems, and management structures induces uncertainty both for everyone. Emotions and fear run high. Productivity and engagement wane. Talented, mission-critical employees consider career options.

Proactive communication before (within limits), during and after the merger can help mitigate any negative impact. Helping employees see the path forward allows the new organization to realize the value of the deal sooner. Simple practices make it happen:

Begin communicating as soon as possible.

Today’s employees are incredibly astute, thanks to immediate access to information via the Internet. More than likely, they already know “something” is in work and have been speculating about it at the water cooler. The longer the vacuum, the more false information, upset and distractions will negatively affect productivity, quality and even safety.

Demonstrate that communication channels are open by sustaining a steady flow of information.

Keep communication going. Provide progress reports, and if there is nothing new, communicate that to demonstrate channels remain open. Don’t forget communication happens in many ways. Use your recognition program, for example, to reinforce desired behaviors and highlight the contributions of those helping to make the transition a success.

Understand that for your employees, the story isn’t about the transaction or what the deal will mean to stakeholders. The story is how the deal will affect them personally.

Will their jobs or career prospects change? Will their management change? If so, how and when? Even employees in the acquiring company will have these questions, and the sooner you address them, the sooner you will be able to quell those distractions and focus on the work of integration.

Reach out to employees at the company being acquired and provide a method for them to ask questions.

These individuals will become your new employees so begin building a relationship with them as soon as possible.

Avoid statements such as “business as usual” you will not be able to back up with action.

Trying to downplay or disguise that fact that processes and systems are being overhauled will only hurt your credibility with employees. Be transparent and bring the focus back to the impact on the individual.

Are you getting ready to announce a merger or acquisition? Or are you struggling to integrate two companies and fulfill the promise of the deal? Contact Ward. Our expert internal communications team stands ready to help you communicate with your employees and become the next M&A success story.

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