The art of leading a post-merger corporate culture

corporate-culture-post-mergerMany international organisations are facing the challenge of creating an integrated corporate culture post-merger. It’s a highly sensitive process that requires outstanding leadership, communication and team intelligence.

The truth is you cannot merge two companies without it having an impact on both corporate cultures.

Culture is often described as ‘the way we do things around here’ and extensive research shows that culture can literally make or break your organisation. In fact, 2/3 of all mergers and acquisitions fail due to cultural clashes.

In many cases this failure occurs due to a lack of understanding as how to drive an integrated culture or because the CEO does not fully understand the impact of culture and employee engagement on the company’s success or failure.

According to Grant Driver, Founder and CEO of Captivate International, leading specialists in integrated culture and employee engagement, The corporate culture after the post-merger integration process has to be designed very carefully so it includes the best parts of the two original corporate cultures.’

But it also has to support the new strategy for the company, which is why we often need to introduce some new values to the corporate culture. Introducing these new values is a complex but necessary task that is best facilitated by a neutral partner with expertise and experience in this field.

Elaborating further on why many mergers fail, Driver explains that research shows that is due to underestimating the friction that occurs when two companies merge. When you bring employees from two companies together with different values and habits and put them under one roof you kick-start a new dynamic altogether. Each employee brings his or her own personality, perceptions and values to the organisation. They also have an allegiance to their company’s history, values and brand.
You have to super sensitive to the legacy of each company and the loyalty the employees have towards that company.
When the employees of two different companies are put together under one roof, a new dynamic is formed.

It is for this reason that a strategy to drive the change of culture in support of the integration must be properly planned and executed.

We asked Grant Driver to share his ideas on how to drive a smooth transition post-merger. He believes that you should focus on 8 key areas:

1. Understand the cultural dynamics of both companies and identify clearly what they have in common in respect of values, history, clients, and leadership style.
2. Identify how the employees feel about the future change through identifying perceptions, emotions and expectations.
3. Clearly identify the gaps that exist between the two companies in respect of culture
4. Communicate goals and objectives consistently and clearly
5. Develop ‘change coaches’ from both companies who have the skillset to coach colleagues internally around the change process.
6. Develop key leadership skills focused on inspirational leadership to support a culture of resilience, optimism and engagement.
7. Host Culture Intelligence workshops that are aimed at creating understanding of how culture work in companies with emphasis on the values and habits that make the culture comes alive.
8. Align all activities and projects to the integrated company’s vision and mission and ensure that the corporate values are consistently and clearly communicated and lived on all levels to build trust.

According to Grant Driver there is no quick fix but a well planned and thought-through post-merger strategy is an essential ingredient in the magic that can happen when two cultures come together fused and focused.

Captivate International works with organisations to assist them to create a high performance corporate culture through change management solutions, brand engagement experiences and leadership coaching.