5 Key Communication Tips to Post-Merger Integration Success
An announcement of a merger or acquisition has a far-reaching impact on business partners. Here are five post-merger integration communication tips to help.
30 September 2016
The announcement of a merger or acquisition has a far-reaching impact on a wide set of business partners, and how these different groups respond to the news will vary depending on their role:
- Employees of the acquiring company will be excited by the investment in inorganic growth but will be curious about the motives driving the deal and the forward-looking vision.
- Personnel on the side of the company that’s being sold, however, will have a much different perspective. Their initial concern will center primarily on job stability. They’ll be seeking immediate answers around the organizational structure of the combined entity.
- Investors on both sides will have questions around the key value drivers and how the transaction will translate to shareholder return.
- Customers will have questions around account management and the terms of their agreements, and suppliers and partners will harbor similar concerns.
The moral is that there’s a lot of uncertainty that surrounds a deal announcement, and organizations typically avoid casting an image of uncertainty at all costs. Attrition within any of these segments isn’t a desired outcome, can potentially impact expected synergies and can derail the overall post-merger integration (PMI) process timeline. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all approach” to an internal/external communication plan as there are numerous variables in play, but below are few tips on how to manage the flow of information:
- Have a message prepared and polished before the announcement is made. Being reactive to questions and concerns from the constituent groups provides an immediate signal that the combined vision hasn’t been defined. Also, the message may not necessarily be the same for each audience. Customers may only care about product or service continuity, whereas the communication to employees may focus on the organizational structure.
- Consider who’s delivering the message to each group. The CEO will set the tone with the market announcement and any resulting press releases. However, employees may need further guidance provided by their managers, and customers will seek out information from their account manager.
- Don’t hide behind email. Hosting town hall sessions can offer a more collaborative environment to deliver key messages and answer questions.
- Transparency and honesty are a must. Sounds like an obvious statement but there are numerous examples where initial commitments were quickly withdrawn and the ensuing mistrust lingers.
- The chain of communication doesn’t end after deal announcement. Keep people apprised of progress, key milestones and lessons learned.
A long and complex chain of people are affected by an M&A announcement. Crafting a clear, consistent message, delivering that message early (and often) and considering how the message is delivered will help alleviate some of the angst for all involved.
Learn more about PMI communication, and other PMI-related best practices.
Ben has been with IL for almost 10 years, leading the company’s strategic growth initiatives across all lines of business. Prior to joining Intralinks, Ben served as Director of Corporate Development for Cognizant Technology Solutions, a leading global provider of IT services solutions. Before Cognizant, he worked for over a decade as an investment banker advising on mergers and acquisitions in the technology industry.