Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) can be a gamechanger for businesses, but integrating the new organization can pose significant challenges. In this webinar recap, we’ll share key takeaways from our speakers Peter Steward and Sandra Egloff of Cognizant on why change management plays a critical role in M&A success and how to approach change management effectively to drive successful integration and talent retention.
Make Employees Experience the North Star
Employee retention is a core goal during M&A and this is driven by an overall positive employee experience. Throughout the integration process, the employee experience lens must be used to design experience journeys for each role in the organization, emphasizing times where change will impact the role the most. Roles identified are usually taken from stakeholder analyses which are assessed in detail after closing.
Building strategic coalitions and planning social activities across the deal can also help in making employees feel comfortable and build trust in the new organization. Clearly communicating what will change and what will remain the same, being clear with compensation, and reinforcing the feeling of job security are also essential factors to consider to ensure that employees will continue to perform well.
Everyone is responsible for employee experience, and everyone must be a change manager to ensure that the integration process is successful. By focusing on the employee experience, companies can increase engagement, productivity, and retention, which can ultimately lead to the overall success of M&A.
Build Change Agent Networks
It is essential to build relationships with the acquired company to ensure successful M&A integration. Building change agent networks gives the change management office the opportunity to leverage the expertise and resources of employees who are close to their colleagues. When selecting change agents, it is important to choose the right mix of expertise and to invest time in upskilling them to ensure that they can fulfill their role effectively. Change agents need to be empowered and recognized by leadership and their contributions must be rewarded to add clear value in their role.
The change agent network is a powerful tool that can be used for non-financial retention, trusted communication, and "non-costed" resources. Using change agent networks can also be an effective way to ensure transparent communication during M&A as it is crucial to keep everyone engaged and informed throughout the integration journey.
Ultimately, the success of M&A integration relies on the buy-in and cooperation of the leaders and associates of both sides and using an internal team through the change agent network can ease the M&A integration process.
Leadership Team Must be Always On-Board
For M&A integration to be successful, the leadership teams on both sides must be fully committed and engaged. Without their buy-in, change management efforts will likely fail to achieve the desired outcomes, including cultural integration, process integration, communication, and overall employee experience. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that the leadership team of both the acquired and acquiring sides are aligned and actively participating in the integration journey.
The Change Management Office plays a vital role in supporting the leaders to be aligned and on-board at every touch point of the integration process. However, it is important to recognize that some leaders may not have the necessary skills or experience to fulfill their role effectively. In such cases, the change management office can offer support and guidance to help them understand their role and how it aligns with their goals. By working closely with the leaders, the change management office can help them become more effective change agents and achieve the desired outcomes for the integration.
Successful M&A integration requires a strategic approach to change management. As speakers Peter Steward and Sandra Egloff of Cognizant emphasize, "Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and wonderful in the end." While the integration process may present challenges, it also presents opportunities for growth and success. By focusing on the employee experience, building change agent networks, and ensuring leadership alignment and active participation, companies can achieve successful integration and talent retention. The Change Management Office plays a crucial role in facilitating this process and helping organizations navigate the complexities of M&A integration.
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