Organizational Development & Design / Business Psychology Consulting
Business Psychology Consulting
The fundamental challenge that an internal consultant faces when addressing post-merger integration is avoiding actions and behaviors that create winners and losers. When the culture of one organization unseats the culture of the other, the cost is lost synergy. Since synergy is a fundamental goal in a merger or acquisition, this is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Indeed, a merger is expected to improve innovation, market share, profitability, and stock prices (Hill & Weiner, 2008). However, more often than not, according to a study conducted by Booze-Allen (1999), mergers and acquisitions do not effectively achieve these objectives, may underperform peers in their industry, and actually lose shareholder value.
Post-merger integration must be “holistic, fluid, and well-executed” in order to be effective and result in solid organizational alignment. Merger and acquisition research points to common and resistant issues that are critical to successful post-merger integration and to opportunities to capitalize on merger synergy. A good model for accomplishing merger excellence addresses these issues and provides clear and effective steps for accomplishing a new shared vision (Hill & Weiner, 2008). Such a model is most likely to be implemented by a team of people who report to C-suite level executives, but it is imperative that the C-suite level executives communicate their endorsement of and continuous attention to merger implementation (Hill & Weiner, 2008).
Planning for post-merger integration actually needs to be started in the pre-merger stage. The post-merger processes are designed to ensure that communication occurs in a transparent and open manner, and that the integration teams consist of people from both organizations and from all stakeholder groups (Hill & Weiner, 2008). The objective is to establish a new identity that will focus on and reinforce the core competencies of the combined companies, and will generate positive forward momentum that is also characterized by a collaborative and flexible consolidation of the two cultures (Hill & Weiner, 2008).
The primary steps of the post-integration phase include maintenance, renewal, and the formation of an integrated organization (Hill & Weiner, 2008). The maintenance step requires a focus on the direction established by the new identity of the merged corporations (Hill & Weiner, 2008). To accomplish maintenance, it is important to retain the high levels of energy that carried the merger implementation to this phase (Hill & Weiner, 2008). Maintaining high levels of energy is necessary because the renewal step will require concerted effort directed toward re-evaluation and re-creation, both of which are resource-consuming endeavors (Hill & Weiner, 2008). The final step in the post-integration implementation stage is often characterized by a redux of the processes used in the initial step in the merger processes: Integrated organization is achieved through “dreaming the dream of the new future together” (Hill & Weiner, 2008).
In order to combat disengagement and the fatigue of the long-haul merger process, cross-organizational networks and project teams must be established (Hill & Weiner, 2008). This newly configured structure is what enables a vibrant culture to develop by absorbing consistent processes, outlooks, missions, values, and goals (Hill & Weiner, 2008). An internal consultant may find that they are immersed in the effort of reforming the functional internal networks to meet the newly shared purpose (Hill & Weiner, 2008). This requires the use of robust community-building techniques that can be leveraged with cross-organizational knowledge. Naturally, it is essential to create a shared knowledge center that will serve maintenance and renewal efforts, to establish a strong and positive customer interface, and to work toward continued brand loyalty that will facilitate shareholder value (Hill & Weiner, 2008).
The scenario is not unlike a hostile takeover that invariably will see the emergence of disgruntled employees or leaders voice their unhappiness over the turn of events. A priority response is to create a communication plan with the power to influence. Opportunities for employees to use their voices and gain access to information are key elements of this communication plan. In addition, it is critical that I formalize a communication structure that invites the expression of opinions, even when they are dissenting opinions.
It is not unusual for internal staff to be resentful of both external consultants and extant members of their organization who have elevated to positions that allow them to direct projects, and in so doing, are tacitly given authority to compel others to work with them on projects they don’t believe it or toward visions they don’t share. The overt rejection of the project by the new vice president can be a disguise for resentment that she is not in charge of the project, but is instead considered a member — albeit, an important member — of the larger team.
I will recommend that one-on-one private interviews with influential members of the organization who are or will be connected to the project be scheduled. By bringing dissent into the open, it becomes possible to dilute its toxic effect. But it should also be recognized that when a dissenter or disrupter feels a loss of power, they may take their complaints and criticism underground. That is to say that the complainer may continue her dissonance but do so without seeking — or receiving — as much attention from co-workers. The smaller the consultant can make the audience for her complaining, the quicker those members of the organization are likely to grow tired of the constant negative refrain. My primary objective of this strategy is to limit the ability of the dissident employee to influence others and to impede their productive work.
I will recommend that forums be held in which employees can provide regular feedback and ask questions of leaders and consultants, both virtually and in real time, as I believe this should be an important part of the communication plan.
2. Your organization has been tasked to take on a new project. A newly hired VP believes she is too intelligent to be part of the project and that is not her job so she refuses to take part in any of the meetings or work on the project. She is clearly alienating the other workers and resentment is starting to build. How do you as a consultant approach this assignment? What are your questions and concerns? What do you do first? What is your communication plan? What theories can you use to address this situation? Please answer in the form of an integrated scholarly argumentative essay that assumes no prior knowledge on the part of your audience. You must be specific in your recommendations and write in first person.
(Knowles, et al., 2010).
Knowles, K., Storin, K., Feinblum, D., and Meyer, S. (2010, January 5). Getting past the hostility: Five key strategies designed to help integrate reluctant employees following a hostile takeover. In Leading through transition: Perspectives on the people side of M&A. Making the deal work. Deloitte. Retreived from http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/mergers-acqisitions/us-ma-consulting-leading-through-transition-010510.pdf
Harbison, J.R., Viscio, A.J., and Asin, A.T. (1999). Making acquisitions work: Capturing value after the deal. Fourth in a Series of Views on Acquisitions. San Francisco, CA: Booz-Allen & Hamilton. Retrieved from http://www.boozallen.com/media/file/33886.pdf
Hill, R. And Weiner, S. (2008). Seven steps to merger excellence. The Organization, September / October. Retreived from http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/the-organization/seven-steps-to-merger-excellence#.VNua1bDF91g
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