Congratulations! You’re getting acquired. What a great accomplishment. And, what an enormous challenge.
As Harvard Business Review explains, “For individual managers and employees, a merger or acquisition is not just a corporate strategy; it’s a personally disruptive—often traumatic—event. What C-suite executives and consultants euphemistically call ‘postmerger integration’ is typically a period of tension, uncertainty, and even chaos.
Workloads ramp up, as do pressure and stress. You may have to quickly adapt to unfamiliar policies, practices, and politics; work with strangers from different corporate or even national cultures; or report to new bosses who know nothing about your track record or ambitions. Meanwhile, there is no guarantee of a job with the resulting organization, let alone a long-term career.”
I know this complex process can’t be totally painless. But, here’s some advice on how to best manage people during this major transition - to help minimize confusion and stress while maximizing performance.”
1. Stay positive and accessible
As you can imagine, employee morale tends to plunge dramatically during acquisitions, which injects a lot of fear, uncertainty, and stress into the environment. During this time, it’s crucial that leaders display a positive attitude, which will help calm employees’ nerves and buoy their spirits. It’s easy to get pulled into a feeling of disempowerment and passivity during a major organizational shift like this, but it’s important to stay as upbeat and proactive as possible. We don’t have control over a lot of things in life, but the one thing we definitely do have control over is our attitude, which can make all the difference - for us and others around us.
It’s important to be as accessible as possible for your reports during this time - they’re going to need a lot more support and strong leadership to help them feel grounded and focused.
2. Involve Employees
Help reduce anxiety by actively involving them in decisions that will impact them. This helps people feel empowered, and keeps them engaged during a period when it’s easy to be the opposite.
3. Communicate Clearly and Accurately
During acquisitions, it’s easy for employees to feel uncertain and insecure. Confusion and chaos often start hanging overhead like a rain cloud. It’s crucial that communication with your team is accurate and clear.
● Clarify the business strategy and direction going forward.
● Keep employees posted on changes underway and those to come.
● Only share updates that have been confirmed to be true and that you’ve been cleared to share.
● Keep abreast any inaccurate rumors that might be floating around and address them as quickly as possible. Strongly discourage others from spreading any speculative rumors; explain that they’ll just add confusion and chaos while spreading information that may be false.
4. Keep Up Motivation
This transition period is bound to dampen employees’ spirits, with a feeling of being on shaky ground and not knowing what’s coming next. This can lead to “drift,” which results in minimal activity, high risk-aversion, and avoidance of decision-making - a paralysis of sorts that leads to a major loss of momentum, productivity, and work quality.
It’s important to combat this as quickly as possible and stay alert to signs of “Drift,” which can be seen almost immediately after the acquisition has been announced. If you wait too long, “Drift” may have long-term negative consequences for your work culture and quality standards.
● Keep reminding employees to stay focused on the tasks they have at hand.
● Create more challenging goals and higher standards for teams to keep them more engaged.
● Embrace the role of cheerleader/motivational coach to keep your employees going in the right direction at the right pace.
● Use tried-and-true motivational techniques, and put in extra effort when implementing them during this especially-trying time.
5. Show Empathy and Sensitivity
It’s important to show your reports that you understand where they’re coming from and that you do care. That extra support and empathy can go a long way. During acquisitions, it’s common for some people to be let go, which can be painful for those who leave and for those left behind. So, make sure to show sensitivity towards both.
6. Lead By Example
Help employees engage in the best possible behaviors during this transition by modeling them yourself. Strong leaders lead by example. If you consistently demonstrate professionalism and collegiality; have a positive attitude; and stay proactive, focused, and goal-driven, you’ll see more of that reflected in your team.
Please share this post with your networks using hashtag #nextplaymentoring. You can email us at Charu@nextplay.ai if any of this resonated with you - and especially if you have a mentorship success story to share!