Can your company survive an acquisition?
Your company’s culture is the set of attitudes and values that binds your team and pushes you forward; there is nothing more important in defining who you are as a company, and what your company ultimately stands for. That’s why, when you merge your company with another, it’s so important to think about what that culture is and how it can be preserved, even as it blends with another.
Sadly, this is one component of mergers and acquisitions that often gets overlooked. I’ve seen it a million times. Executives, accountants, and attorneys are all burning the midnight oil, trying to pull together an agreeable deal before a deadline comes—and as they do so, they forget all about the less-tangible components of culture and team dynamics.
Thinking About Culture in the Face of a Merger
When you forget about culture, though, you run a major risk of disenfranchisement—among your team members and perhaps among your customers, too. Here are a few recommendations I’d make for avoiding that. In order to survive an acquisition we need to:
- Make communication a priority. Know what your culture is, and what values unite your team. Convey that culture to all new employees you bring into the fold. Also keep the lines of communication open with your people, and make it clear that you want to hear about any concerns they have during the transition. As in so many aspects of business, good communication will address most of your problems before they even become problems.
- Look for common ground. Merging two companies often means combining two totally different cultures, but if you spend some time thinking about it you will likely find some commonalities, some shared values. Make those major areas of emphasis in the early days of the merger.
- Look for cultural ambassadors, both in your company and in the one you’re merging with—people who believe in the company vision and are committed to the success of the newly merged business. Engage them early, soliciting their feedback and asking them to be leaders in engaging the rest of the team.
- Recognize that there are going to be some things that are changed, perhaps even some aspects of culture that are lost; communicate these things in advance, but also emphasize that not everything is going to change.
- Develop a really robust onboarding and orientation process, working with HR to assume that everyone new you bring into the fold knows roughly what your culture is.
Bringing two companies together can result in clashes of culture—but it can also result in opportunities for mutual growth. With these tips, I hope you can make your merger into something more like the latter. To survive an acquisition you need to be prepared!
He is also the author of the book Living A Championship Life, “A Game Plan for Success,” and the co–author of the book Jamie’s Journey: Travels with My Dad written with his sixteen-year-old daughter Jamie.
Dr. Rick is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and individuals with systems and strategies that produce increased profits and productivity without having the challenges of micromanaging the process. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include Heineken, AT&T, Boeing, Cavium Networks, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Franklin Templeton Investments.
Contact Dr. Rick at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098 about speaking at your next event!