Merging two organisations presents a huge cultural challenge. In fact, between 50% – 75% of all post-merger integrations fail to meet their original objectives due to cultural clashes1.
It’s therefore crucial to reflect on the impact of any merger on your culture before it happens. We’ve summarised five top tips to consider when planning your post-merger integration activity.
1. Take an ‘additive’ over ‘alignment’ mindset
Every organisation has its unique culture, values and ways of working. Identify each organisation’s ‘cultural cornerstones’ or ‘cultural identifiers’ that need to be protected and incorporate them into the new world. Evaluate how you can take the best of both cultures, rather than correcting or aligning either of them. Initially, you may need to create strategies to bridge the cultural gap, involving compromise and negotiation. When introducing strategies, consider the impact on people in the acquiring organisation.
2. Recognise all employees to increase retention
Recognise that employees from both sides bring valuable insights and experiences. Invest in programmes to retain key talent, acknowledge their contributions and provide opportunities for career growth within the merged organisation.
3. Engage everyone
Avoid the sentiment of ‘this change is being done to us’. Senior leadership, people managers and their teams need to be actively engaged with the change, co-designing behaviour and change interventions, plus inputting into how changes are introduced. Organisations should support new leaders with the necessary training and resources to navigate cultural integration.
4. Be transparent with communication
From deal announcement and organisational design rollout to system transitions and everything in between, effective two-way communication and transparency at all levels of the organisation is required to build trust. Additionally, you should instil certainty with a regular drumbeat of communications (town hall meetings, informative newsletters, pulse surveys and interactive forums) to convey key messages. Bolster this with earnest, empathetic engagement – keeping the humanity within the integration. Transparency in decision-making on how priorities are determined will boost engagement during the integration process.
5. Transfer knowledge and be collaborative
Create the space for cross-pollination of knowledge and expertise. Encourage collaborative learning by facilitating cross-functional teams, knowledge-sharing workshops and mentorship programmes. Bring in your organisational role models to build connection and share knowledge on career development. Ensure you’re fostering an environment where employees from both organisations can exchange ideas, best practices and insights.
The lasting opportunity of cultural integration
True realisation of benefits come in the months, and sometimes years, after a merger, as it’s the people working together long after the transactional elements of the deal are completed. In a world where mergers and acquisitions are on the rise, the cultural integration process should be seen as an opportunity to nurture innovation, uphold excellence and deliver meaningful change.
Take a moment to reflect on your organisation’s current cultural landscape. Identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas that may require attention post-merger.
Apply the tips and best practices highlighted in the blog. Tailor these strategies to fit the unique dynamics of your organisation.
Share your success stories! Whether it’s through internal communications, industry forums, or social media, inspire others with your journey toward a successfully integrated and culturally aligned organisation.