Employee behavior can become unpredictable before and during a merger. Even the most tenured and emotionally stable staff members can be rattled when the talk of a merger or acquisition begins. It is important to remember that this type of change is completely normal and should be expected in the face of organizational change. Executive team leaders and front-line managers have the responsibility to help their employees navigate the upcoming changes without losing their positive attitude.
Communicate Early and Often
One common mistake that companies make during a merger is to delay discussions with the workforce. While there is an obvious need for confidentiality during the early phases, information should be distributed to essential employees as appropriate. Even if some details are withheld, providing basic outlines on a need-to-know basis will establish confidence among the staff members.
Invite Survey Feedback
Keeping in theme with open communication, business leaders should seek feedback from employees before and during a merger. A formal or informal survey of employees will provide an accurate pulse on their attitudes toward change. In most cases, the results will be somewhat of a mixed bag. Some employees will embrace the merger with anticipation of positive change while others will resist any semblance of change.
Leaders and managers should discuss employee concerns as they arise and as the merger continues to move forward. Conducting an open forum discussion, such as a Town Hall event, is a great way to open the floor and allow employees to vent their concerns. Many employees will have the same question, so addressing the questions and concerns in a single setting cuts down on redundancy. Group settings are also helpful to avoid gossip and confusion since everyone hears the same message at the same time.
Reward Right Behaviors
Employees who respond to a pending merger with positivity are great advocates for change. Their optimism should be rewarded whenever possible. Every staff member has the potential to influence their peers, whether for the positive or negative. Those who exemplify the positive behavior by citing the obvious benefits of a merger will encourage others to view the situation from a new perspective. In many cases, these are the same employees who exhibit leadership qualities.