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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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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