Going through a merger can be a frustrating and chaotic situation for everyone in an organization, and the news of a merger can ignite fear into employees as they try to get answers to questions such as:
- Will I lose my job?
- How will my role change?
- Will I need to move?
- Will my pay be affected?
- Will I have to move to a different office?
- How will my benefits change?
- Will I be phased out of the company?
- Will I get a new boss?
- Will get along with him or her?
- Am I going to need to re-interview for my job?
- What’s going to happen to all my friends here?
And this feeling of fear should not be surprising, especially if employees stumble upon the news through the corporate grapevine or through a co-workers’ Facebook post before they hear about it from management.
Properly introducing the news of an acquisition can be the most important part of the entire process when you consider that a company is made up of its people, and the success of the brand is nearly one hundred percent dependent on its people – not the tangible assets and financials.
As the two merging companies need to consider the quality, level of commitment and productivity levels of employees during the consideration phase of a merger, so should they consider those employees when it’s time to announce the news and relevant details.
Presenting the news of a merger to employees requires a very E.Q. approach. All will be listening very intently to every word that is spoken by their leader, and even more intently to every word that isn’t said. This is the kind of news that can suck the oxygen out of a room where employees will have selective hearing, and everything will be interpreted based on delivery. In other words, they will be keenly aware of all of those non-verbal communication cues. This is precisely where communication skills will be most important to soothe the nerves of anxious ears.
Once the announcement is made, the management team should ideally meet with all employees allowing them to ask the many questions they will have while employing Active Listening skills. This is the intersection where leaders must concentrate on establishing trust while nurturing relationships with their work teams as employees must not only understand the purpose of the merger, they must also support it, be enthusiastic about it and deliver on the leaders’ expectations – skills that are taught in leadership training.
Simply stated, a merger is an event where leaders will need one hundred percent commitment and support of their employees if the merger is to succeed.