There is a reason that the vast majority of M&A events are not accretive to earnings. It’s very challenging putting two teams together and getting one (or both teams) to conform to the brand standards and corporate culture of the new parent company.
When it comes to M&A, there are a lot more failures than successes.
Now, part of that is due to inherent mis-matches between the companies, their executive teams or the products they offer. If the teams just don’t fit together, there’s not much your communications team can do about it except interview the executives after the fact and try to learn something to help the company next time around.
But what if it should work? What if the acquisition makes good sense and the acquired company’s offerings serve a customer base the acquirer understands? Will it be easier to just connect the two companies together?
No. It’s still going to be a lot of very hard work. Here are some ways we work to help make it easier for our clients.
Make Communication Consistent and Transparent
Leaders should frequently share updates, explain decisions, and be open about challenges. This builds trust and keeps employees informed. Leaders are going to be too busy to think about this, so the communications team has to continuously put opportunities in front of them and make it as easy as possible to convert their thoughts and ideas into clear copy.
Ramp up Executive Thought Leadership
Employees will naturally have many questions after an M&A event, but they won’t be the only ones. Stakeholders, partners of the combined firms and customers will all be wondering what’s going to happen next. Good leaders make time to share that information as it becomes available in the form of thought leadership. A press release is a page of facts. An executive blog post is an exploration of the reasons behind the actions and, when possible, a glimpse at the vision the company is working towards.
Address Cultural Differences
No two corporate cultures will ever line up exactly. Leaders have two choices: ignore it and push the chosen culture hard or accept it, acknowledge the differences, find common ground, and create a new shared culture. One of the best ways to do this is to write about the best parts of each culture so the team can see that the new company has the best of both.
Listen to Employees
In most cases, employees in a newly combined firm are going to have more questions than comments, but as the answers begin to flow they will have opinions on them. Good leaders find ways to hear what their employees are saying, without necessarily giving them a soapbox to preach rebellion. The communications team is a perfect go-between here and can draft special reports filled with employee commentary specifically for the c-suite.
Showcase Executive Examples
One of the best things leaders can do post M&A is to model teamwork, but this can’t be effective if no one knows about it. Engage the communications team to showcase this behavior and set the rest of the company up for success.
Turning an M&A event into a success takes time. Unfortunately, management is likely to be judged by the report it provides to stakeholders at the end of the quarter. That puts a lot of pressure on them to do everything right.
A better approach is to make a big deal out of the things that do get done right, so even if the numbers take time to work themselves out of the red, stakeholders have a better idea of how the combined team is coming together.
As with all of our solutions, this offering must be tailored to meet the needs of the client and every M&A event is different. If you are completing one now, we would love to talk to you about showcasing your successes as early in the integration process as possible.
For more information about how RGA helps clients lead their industries or business sectors, schedule a call with us today.