Nothing strikes anxiety in the hearts of employees faster than the words “merger” and “acquisition”. With all the disruption businesses have experienced through the pandemic – several hanging on by their fingernails – for some, mergers and acquisitions have been their most viable road to survival.
When a company embarks upon a merger or is being purchased, communication becomes essential throughout the process and afterwards. Create a communication plan before the merger or acquisition is announced, so that you can keep communicating through the merger or acquisition. Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep things on track:
- More than ever before, employees need information. They need to know what’s happening, and you need valued and essential staff not to jump ship. Communicate constantly using every tool in your toolbox.
- Saying something once is never enough. Create key messages and talking points, and deliver them again and again, and then some more. You will feel that the messages have gone out and you’ll be tired of repeating them, but your employees won’t.
- Never say that nothing will change because things will After all, that’s the reason for the merger or acquisition. The point is change means survival!
- Be compassionate and be honest. When things change, they will require employees to change, with some even losing their jobs. Your honesty and compassion will make it much easier for them.
- It’s never a merger of equals, so don’t say that it is just to make senior leaders and board members feel better about it. Be honest about what each organization brings to the table. Just because it’s not equal doesn’t make it not valuable.
- Don’t guess if you don’t know. It’s okay to say you don’t have the answers, but you must remember that those answers are important to employees, so quickly follow up with information for them.
- Go in with plans. On day one, your employees expect and deserve to know where the ship is headed, so have a chart for the journey. Nothing says that everything is set in stone, but plans give employees faith in the future.
- Jump on early successes and communicate them with exuberance.
- Finally, good and constant communication is reassuring. It gives comfort. Remember, you can never communicate enough!