Case: Listening to the organisation
Listening to the organization
There are several theories and check list on what to do during a merger of two organizations. It could be a merger after an acquisition or a merger of two entities within the same company. The basic principles are the same for a successful integration. That said, the complexity of course varies. It is difficult to find ONE way that fit every situation. Such differences could be size of entities, very different culture, family owned, different nationalities and so on.
The preparation work is of course critical. A good communication plan need to be in place. The final structure and how to get there need to be analyzed. IT plans, HR standards and so on must be ready for implementation. Normally all this is well documented and developed by the management. Still so many changes fail after the initial motivation boost(s). Why ?
The ART of changes is to make complex simple. It is to focus on the essentials. Do less rather than more. Truly understand that it is people that need to change their minds and way of thinking. Individuals have ideas, are concerned and need to be listened to.
Some years ago I lead a large merger after an acquisition. Everything was prepared in detail, following the text book example with well thought-through presentations for the announcement day. All possible questions were considered and presented in Q&A material and power points. Rehearsals with the former owner of the acquired company was done with satisfied result. We were ready to go!!! The announcement to all the employees went smooth and people were nodding their heads throughout the management presentations. Afterwards we asked the audience for feedback of the presentation. Surprisingly few of them remembered anything from the presentations!! What they did notice and appreciated was that the former owner stood so close to the new manager and both of them seemed very relaxed. “This gave us comfort and confidence that this will be a good thing”. Other comments were mostly about their own personal situation. “That is all fine, but what shall I answer on the phone when customers call?”, “What shall we write on our business cards?”.
The momentum in the change process need to be kept, but not faster than the employees can cope with. If it is too slow, there will be frustration. As always it comes down to timing and balance.
Most individuals are very competent and quite often have an insight in the business and organization exceeding the management. Recognize this. Listen to them. Give them credit and accountability to drive parts of the change process. Tell them your plans, openly. Rather overcommunicate. Personnel appreciate hearing news directly from you, good or bad news. The only way to fight coffee room speculation and rumors is with clear and open communication. Be present.
This is the time when your personal and your companies’ values will show what they stand for. The more solid they are and the truer you are to them, the higher is the chance of success.