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Ensure the Success of Your Merger with a Little Laughter

by | Nov 23, 2015 | What We Think

Insightful strategies, rock-solid analytics, streamlined processes and integrated technology don’t guarantee that a merger will yield the intended success. In fact, 70%-90% of the time, mergers fail to achieve the desired goals.

Once the paperwork is signed, redundant systems streamlined, and new desks and new positions assigned, the merger isn’t *really* over — in fact, it’s just beginning. Dealing with the residual effects of uniting distinct organizational cultures, each with their own unique legacies, can lead to internal and external challenges and attitudes, such as:

  • Negative criticism
  • Diverging agendas
  • Lack of teamwork or collegiality
  • “Some ideas are more important than others”
  • “No one listens to me”

Grumbling and an inability – or unwillingness – to change often sabotage the envisioned success.

When larger organizations acquire smaller, more nimble companies in order to take advantage of their creativity and new product savvy, the value is often lost as the small company gets super-sized. The culture that made them great is squashed, albeit rarely intentionally. Employees of the larger organization don’t understand and often resent a different culture within what is now the same company. Cooperation and communication languish.

Everyone wants change – for the other guy. When equals merge, picking and choosing among the best practices each brings can be agonizing. Few people want to adopt someone else’s methodology. Yet openly discussing the issues is difficult. Be a team player. Cooperate. Keep the business running while you change. Huh? Employees are confused, nervous about the impact on their jobs, unsure. Productivity during times of change plummet.

So laugh a little, or a lot. Bring out the issues while helping people to connect. Improv helps to kick start the conversations and necessary changes to get people across the divide talking and listening. It’s fun. And, well structured improv sessions bring issues to light in a non-threatening way for teams on the “other” side.

But don’t stop with a good meeting or even a great retreat. People retain only 10% of what they learn in a training session. So bring the discussion and action to the day-to-day. Improv is a great segue into more in-depth work to create a new culture and boost productivity. Leaders at all levels need coaching to manage through change, and employees need to be actively engaged in the change. Change is hard. Laughter, learning and ongoing support help to accelerate the creation of a new norm.

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