Bringing two businesses together is a tough ask of any leader in any size organisation. So how do you get it right? What are your responsibilities?
Well, you could do some research and visit and talk to other people who have done what you are about to do…you will not be the first to merge companies like this. So you can learn from what worked with them and what did not and then you can avoid the latter!
You can also do desktop research, which is quicker than face to face but you cannot interrogate the websites you find to get to the nub of the issues.
In my experience the single biggest issue in the bringing together of two organisations is that of communication. Yes, that old chestnut! But it is true, and borne out again recently when I met some of the people directly impacted on by a merger. When I asked them how they felt about the situation I got answers such as ‘frustrated’ ‘scared’ ‘helpless’ and ‘under-valued’. I could go on because the list was quite extensive but you get the gist! When I asked why they were feeling like this it boiled down to a lack of communication by the senior management which means that people’s jobs are changing, the location of the workplace is changing and their line manager is changing but no-body has told them how it is changing and what the consequences of those changes will be.
Sure, if you are familiar with the change curve (my blog on April 3) you would say that they are still resisting but what I found interesting was that when you explored their feelings they wanted to discuss the options and what the future held, but no-body could tell them what that was. The lack of clarity around job roles & responsibilities for the future (less than 2 months away) would concern me if I was a shareholder in this business! There appeared to be no plan!
I bet if I went to the senior management team there is a plan and it is all beautifully presented and fits a classic merger format. My issue is that NO-ONE is sharing that information with the people at the coal face!!
So what about you as the leader, what should you be doing? Well in my opinion you should be communicating on a regular basis with your team. Even if there is nothing to tell them, that is what you tell them!! You should be pushing upwards to get more information and you should be feeding upwards the feelings that you and your team are experiencing.
We are all human and therefore feel threatened by something as massive as a merger but we as leaders in our organisation have a responsibility to the people in our team so talk to them!!
Thanks for your time, Suzanne Unsworth