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Managing Employees During Company Mergers & Acquisitions

Delivering a vision of seamless merger success requires discipline and expertise, apart from creating a culture of accountability and enthusiasm.

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Mergers and acquisitions are intrinsic to the business world, becoming far more common than before as companies become globalised. No matter how rosy the picture of a company's merger sounds, it's human tendency to resist and panic when confronted with change. The fearful reactions of employees invoke more anxiety than the stress of the merger or acquisition, so managers must learn the art of handling employees gently and calmly.

A changing environment, lack of proper information and floating rumours will affect the productivity of even the most highly engaged employees. Low employee morale, poor cooperation, reduced flexibility and greater rigidity are common factors during stressful organisation mergers. These toxic factors have the power to threaten the image and stability of any corporation, so effectively utilising proper communication channels becomes a fundamental role for HR managers and business leaders.

Managers play a vital role in helping employees understand these changes by maintaining employee engagement and morale in the face of insecurity. This is equally important for both companies because this corporate marriage brings two different cultures together. Managing communication between the employees of both companies will help to address their concern about job security and change. But too many companies make the mistake of not communicating effectively to their employees, causing turmoil and widespread anxiety, which can ruin a company's good reputation. Too often, business leaders are concerned with fleshing out operational and financial issues, completely overlooking the importance of smart talent management.

It's never easy to merge two distinct corporate cultures together on so many levels. When two distinct corporate cultures come together, their fundamental strategies of working together are different, which can easily be misinterpreted and can lead to frustration, demoralisation and apprehension. Cultural clashes between two organisations are inevitable when managers fail to effectively communicate with their employees, giving rise to negative consequences like productivity and profitability failures. A McKinsey & Company 2009 study on mergers revealed that 92 percent of interviewed employees felt that they would have benefitted more from understanding cultural changes in the beginning stages for a smoother transition.

Within this evolving climate, business leaders and managers must find better ways to integrate diverse corporate cultures without compromising on their primary goals. Giving employees of both companies the opportunity to voice their concerns of fear and anxiety is essential because it allows managers to address trepidations with calm assurance. This level of personalised communication is sure to alleviate fears by helping employees adjust more easily to their new surroundings. Addressing ideas and questions from employees will make them feel invaluable in an environment where their feelings are considered. This morale-boosting action will positively benefit the company as happy employees are bound to contribute more productively to the success of an organisation. Eliminating the concepts of fear and apprehension will help an organisation reap the fruits of high employee engagement, enhanced morale and boosted productivity.

Empowering employees to deal with corporate cultural changes requires intelligent planning and clever resource allocation. Business leaders and managers must find ways to set up effective engagement channels for clarifying roles and processes, setting up team meetings, conducting team building sessions and undertaking team management exercises. These channels of engagement are vital to the long-term success of mergers and acquisitions by enabling teams to bond effectively, so companies should not take them lightly. Employees are the biggest assets for any organisation, so finding ways to retain their loyalty and improve their productivity can only lead to positive outcomes. Fostering an engaging environment where employees from both companies can bond with each other is pivotal to the overall success of the corporate merger.

Delivering a vision of seamless merger success requires discipline and expertise, apart from creating a culture of accountability and enthusiasm. This vision must be condensed into succinct strategies and shared openly at every level to be truly successful. The overarching goal of success must be communicated responsively to all employees through a myriad of engagement channels, making the holistic vision of the company clear to everyone without bias and without prejudice. Engaging with professional training organisations like Viztar International can help companies develop tailor-made employee engagement, team building and training solutions specifically directed at minimising the negativity surrounding mergers and acquisitions.

Engaging employees successfully during mergers and acquisitions is always going to be challenging for any business leader or manager. Discomfort, anxiety and fear are natural emotions to expect from employees, so leaders must find smart ways to assuage these fears for enhanced productivity. HR managers and business leaders must build compatibility through effective training programs, team exercises and team building sessions to triumph in bonding and motivating employees. Once a company is able to positively mitigate the risks of discontented employees by meaningfully involving them in decisions that affect them, it will witness a positive change in employee behaviour. This will give birth to a legion of highly motivated employees committed to ensuring continued success of the organisation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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mergers and acquisitions management manager

Sachin Adhikari

The author is India's first Transformational Training Designer & Chief Mentor of Viztar International

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