Mergers bring together at least two previously independent companies that will act together and be successful in the future. The economic background is usually convincing and suggests the merger. Nevertheless, mergers are more like formal marriages than marriages based on love. The need for changes in management is difficult to dispute, but is rarely understood as a core component from the beginning.
What makes a change management process in mergers so complicated and difficult? Here are some of the most critical features:
• duplicate structures and people,
• different process models and decision paths,
• lack of trust and confidence (in each other),
• the fear of being a loser and lived-out fantasies of power,
Underestimation of actual resistances,
• the pressure to quickly come up with new, well-functioning forms of action.
When to start changing management and what should be kept in mind?
It should be clear again: the economic, professional and legal background of a merger should be clarified and promising. But then it’s very fast about the change management appropriate change. In the beginning is change management board consulting.
It makes sense to start with the moment when the merger is done. Already the publication of the decision can be regarded as a first, decisive step for the development of a new culture and should be designed prudently. It is probably not exaggerating to say that many mergers lose their chances of success, especially in the early stages. Change Management begins with the release of the merger and the appointment of key positions. Both are already part of the change process.
At the same time, there are tasks of analysis and organizational development (here, one can see only a brief overview):
• How do the two parent organizations see the merger and what is the image of each other?
• What is the target image of the merger?
• What rational and irrational concerns and resistances exist?
• What ideas exist regarding the merger process?
Change management in merger processes is, thus, always organizational analysis in addition to management consulting. Change management in mergers requires particularly good leadership and ensures good communication. In the course of a merger process, change management has to accept accepted and targeted influence on corporate communication and leadership. Both are lacking in the transitional period; In both areas, change management has to convince.
It is not the economic reasons of a merger that convince the employees. The question of whether there is a development perspective and whether one can trust a new / changed leadership team are more decisive.
If one values the acceptance of the employees, then first of all the executive board and then the executives have to succeed in gaining confidence and justifying it in the immediate aftermath of a merger. This will always reflect good change management, where it will concentrate its forces. Change Management does not replace leadership and leadership communication, but seeks to establish good leadership as quickly and systematically as possible.
In the initial phase, change management also includes information and communication. It focuses a part of its efforts on orienting employees. This is especially true in the transitional phase between old order and new world, that is precisely in the period when the old leadership changes, but the new one is not yet fully established.
Change management should be seen as temporary reinforcement. In the sense described above, systematic change management in the early stages of a new, changing corporate culture can help to avoid mistakes that have long and undesirable after-effects. It depends on proper processing of the merger. If processing is insufficient, the symptoms often persist for years and hinder success.
It is definitely worth putting the change process on the agenda at an early stage, even if it is not that easy and adds one more to the questions that are already there. In not a few cases, its course determines the success or failure of mergers.