The one constant in the business world is that there will always be change. And of course, some types of change are easier to deal with than others.
Mergers and acquisitions represent tremendous change for any company, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. In fact, it’s estimated that U.S. company mergers fail more often than marriages.
As the economy continues to recover, we have had a number of clients coming to us for help with M&A ventures. These savvy companies know that proactive training sessions can go a long way toward ensuring their high-stakes gamble will pay off.
Deal or No Deal?
There are a number of critical factors that can make or break a successful merger or acquisition. I’ve participated in a lot of mergers throughout my career – particularly the years spent working in the airline industry prior to founding Fathom Corporate Training – and the most important thing I’ve learned is that time is of the essence with regard to communications. Company employees need to hear about important updates from management, not from news reports or third parties. The rumor mill is always running, so it’s important to communicate as much as possible to prevent false reports from impacting morale.
Equally critical is the alignment of company cultures. If a company tries to shoehorn employees of the acquired company into a ready-made culture that doesn’t fit, the odds of long-term success are slim. Instead, management needs to identify values that the two companies have in common and find a shared culture that fits everyone.
Team building skills provide valuable tools for addressing both cultural disconnects and communications bottlenecks. Investing in a stronger, more cohesive team early in the merger process lays the groundwork to build a solid company that will thrive for years to come. One particular team building technique that our clients have found useful for quickly breaking down barriers is a form of arts-based learning where teams paint canvases together. In fact, the outcomes of this fun activity literally cover the walls of many of our clients’ boardrooms and offices.
Mergers and acquisitions offer a tremendous opportunity to build value and spark innovation in the marketplace. When done right, two companies can say “I do” and live happily ever after. But when management overlooks disparate cultures and allows communications to break down, the result can be an epic failure.