This past year we began working with a semiconductor company that is in the process of a merger with another hi-tech group to enhance their technology and provide their global customers with a feature rich product line. One of the company’s primary concerns in their merger plans was how to make their people ‘change-adept’ and retain their largest asset, their employees.
Corporate mergers on any scale are not always as smooth as the management would like. Often, merging companies suffer a severe employee exodus due to the miss-understanding of why the merger is taking place, staff relocation to another city and state, core values clash, veteran employees do not feel appreciated for past productivity, resentment for newly imported staff, or even the mix of cultural diversity. The ‘change-adept’ are not more proficient than their colleagues, but they demonstrate a different mind-set that they use in meeting change, personally and professionally. These types of folks usually can move through any transitional state not only surviving, but flourishing in shifting times.
What factors help implement & manage change? Each company’s situation is unique, but let’s look at these elements:
• Whether it’s an acquisition, merger, or division re-alignment, clearly state the reason for change such as, product line discontinuance, external forces such as market trends or industry specific demands, other technologies that can expand company growth or even the departure of a respected company leader, perhaps for retirement.
• Recognize that resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. Leaders address resistance to help individuals reduce it to a minimal manageable level. Your role is not to bulldoze their resistance so you can move ahead, but ask them to assume a part in creating the new company. What will be their commitment and course of action in the next months?
• Help the veteran employees know they are valued as some of the original pillars of the company, both in their professional knowledge and for the culture they have built up to now. It is also important that they understand what will not change. This acknowledgement provides the anchor for them as they face periods of uncertainty.
• For the integration of outside staff or newly relocated staff, state what the changes will be and any possible phases of change, including how these phases will happen and who will be responsible for their implementation.
• Leaders will need to understand the specific fears of all the employees. What are they concerned about? How strongly do they feel about it? Do they perceive the stated strategies as good or bad? Schedule ‘listening’ sessions for departments or teams that collaborate together to maintain their sense of synchronicity and keep creativity in the forefront.
• Remember that human ‘systems’ move toward change tentatively. Describe a positive perspective for the pending changes using the elements of everything that will give this system a new “life”, especially when it will benefit both economic and human concerns. Link the positives directly to any new strategic agenda. Define how the changes never thought possible can be more rapidly mobilized while simultaneously building enthusiasm, corporate confidence, and human energy.
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.“