Five Priorities For Communicating During Mergers And Acquisitions - Deepstash
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Culture Transfer During Mergers And Acquisitions

Culture Transfer During Mergers And Acquisitions

What often happens is that the acquired entity’s culture lies dormant in the first few weeks of integration due to the immediate and urgent operational necessity of other practical tasks. This is where communication is key.

Of course, culture is a complex network of behaviours that communications alone cannot control; however, the way in which we execute communications can have a strong bearing on how well all stakeholders (like leaders and employees) approach the subsequent cultural integration.

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Five Practical Tips For Communications Leaders: Establish An Official Comms Workstream

It just takes one side conversation that inadvertently deviates from the planned strategy to start the relationship off on the wrong foot. Make sure the leadership team is clearly aligned.

One-on-one discussions take place as part of deal negotiation, and these conversations can have far-ranging consequences if they do not align with the long-term approach. Comms leaders should take ownership of clearly communicating the short- and long-term plans for the acquired brand and manage that workstream closely.

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Become A Change Agent

When it comes to M&A, the reality is that business isn’t just business. People enable a business to operate, and people have feelings and emotions, particularly about changes that are out of their control.

Communications managers should become change agents, and it is important that their approach is gently assertive from the outset of the process. If you plan to retire a brand that a founder has spent 15 years building, the approach and tone for communicating that change are crucial to avoid friction, and in the worst cases, resistance.

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Anticipate Questions

Just as you would when marketing to a potential prospect, you should take a needs-based approach and communicate based on what they want to know — not what you want to tell them. Prepare to handle objections; it’s inevitable.

Often, you can’t answer questions around contracts, benefits and org structure immediately, yet you need to acknowledge the question is there and that you intend to answer it as soon as you’re able to. This gives employees confidence that you aren’t oblivious to their concerns and are considering people as part of the process.

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Make It Personal

The most impactful and effective comms are those that take the most time and effort to deliver. Two-way and visual comms are key; employees are no different from consumers or clients. They want to engage with humans and to feel that the business understands them as individuals.

For example, a live discussion with the CEOs of both the acquirer and acquiree at the time of the announcement can settle nerves. Remember, the announcement comes out of the blue for the majority of employees — so it’s important to add faces to the communications to make them feel less clinical and unsettling.

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First Impressions Count

A tried-and-tested execution plan for both internal and external comms is important, yet it’s equally important not to be rigid with that strategy and to adjust your comms plan according to the way in which employees are responding in real time.

People are the most unpredictable part of the M&A process, and their importance in the success of any deal simply cannot be underestimated. If you get it wrong at the start, you can end up with little pockets of cultural dissen

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coly

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