Blending Corporate Cultures

Corporate culture is a unique and critical creation achieved through thoughtful planning and hard work.   A vibrant, engaging culture within your company, however, can often be complicated by a merger or acquisition. Here are several tips for building a strong, positive culture throughout the process.

A significant factor in a successful merger of two organizational cultures is communication. Without clearly communicating timeframes, objectives and risks, employees may find the process to be confusing, stressful or discouraging.  This may lead to employee disengagement and a decrease in productivity. Lack of teamwork or failure to set clear expectations can translate to employees not feeling appreciated or respected which can ultimately impact operations and financial results of the combined company, as well as cause the loss of key personnel.

It is essential that you make time and space for your employees and transparently discuss how employees are valued and how their role may or may not change, or that some time may be needed to sort it all out.  If an employee is no longer part of the plans or you have a new job description, be honest with them and be timely. Uncertainty can be the silent killer of morale.

Reflect upon and assess what type of corporate culture the new company values and is defined by, and work hard to understand, listen, and consider new or modified styles, approaches, and expectations for the combined company.  Be open-minded at the outset, yet be firm and clear once decisions are made, while also being sure to involve as many stakeholders as possible in decision-making.

Mergers are not all about new markets to be entered, revenue expectations, or efficiencies gained.  Your staff are your number one asset and employee satisfaction is a must for long-term success.

Seek the opinions of long-time staff, new hires and newly acquired employees on how to integrate varying cultural values and policies.  Whether one company is more successful than the other, or they both enjoy great success with high employee retention, a merger can alter every relationship and every way of doing business.  Be self-aware and show compassion.

While you may believe that your existing company has a more engaged workforce, more experienced or knowledgeable staff, or a more personable and friendly demeanor, there are likely to be several values, approaches, or characteristics of the new business that your current business can use to improve productivity and employee engagement.  Be welcoming and open-minded.

As a business owner, remember that mergers and acquisitions often carry hidden costs.  If you’ve already created a memorable, engaging and exciting culture, the effort to maintain it and build it will be more than worthwhile and will promote your long-term sustainability.  Be forthright and genuine and with patience and persistence, you’ll enjoy a strong culture throughout the new company.  

Finally, budget for investments related to culture, and if you need to, consider a loan to bolster your working capital.  In addition to investment in technology, sales, operations, marketing, equipment and other essential components of the merged company, ensure appropriate investment in your company’s culture and your employees to build loyalty and appreciation.  

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