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How firms can ensure merger and acquisition success

James Ngomeli

The business environment is now engulfed in stories of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) as companies try to reposition themselves to meet the ever-changing economic landscape.

Decision to drive strategic growth through mergers and acquisition can certainly be alluring with the number driving a strong argument.

Cultural and psychological sides of M&A are overshadowed by the financial argument coming in as  the most significant land mines in the arrangement. The need for internal marketing and communication strategy within the organisation is critical to the success of the  M&A .

With the announcement of the merger, employees will be distressed with many wondering whether their positions will survive or remain at the same level. The thought of losing out in livelihood, change of job and lifestyle is a major distraction.

Hence the need to support this exercise with clear-cut information, consistency and transparency from the beginning is crucial. The development of an internal communication and marketing strategy is key in outlining the reasons of the merger or acquisition.

With clear emphasis on the employees as a beneficiary and winner in the whole process. The need for employees of both entities understanding that they are part of the process and the power of inclusivity cannot be underrated. The communication should be well-thought of as part of the strategy going forward.

More often people and culture issues are left with the human resource division to deal with. This is always the wrong approach as it is a supporting role. The most influential person is your immediate direct bosses who you deal with every day and influence your action everyday.

Most merger decisions are secrets that are released like time bombs getting the whole organisational structure flat-footed leading to rumours. Hence the need to establish champions at the grassroots level in the  organisation is critical.

They could be referred as brand or change  champions as they form integral  part of the information and feedback mechanism to the organisation.

The brand champions must undergo specific training on brand communication. They must be an inspiration and centre of excellence across the business and to the eyes of the  staff.

In most instances, brand champions from the two firms must be trained together to deliver similar and consistent information at the same time and in similar fashion.

Even though the cultures and norms are different this is where they start merging and developing one communication across the two businesses. The businesses are  able to pick up any challenges in such forums and address them early.

The feedback mechanism is critical and employee surveys are important element throughout the merger and acquisition discussions. Hence it is critical to keep your eyes on the ball both as the external and internal factors play out. – The writer is Culture Change Consult ant and former Chair CIM East Africa

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