With a history of undertaking acquisitions around the world, this major bank had clear M&A processes in place. But historically, primary attention had been paid to the legal and due diligence aspects of these activities. Communication, particularly to employees, received less emphasis, where efforts focused on the transaction announcement more than the longer term integration.
We knew that a significant percentage of mergers and acquisitions ultimately failed. We also knew that, based on past experience, cultural misfit was one of the largest obstacles to success. It was clear that if what were anticipated to be a series of acquisitions were to be successful, communication would be a key factor. And that addressing cultural issues from the outset would be critical to fostering new employee engagement and identification with the brand, retaining high-performing individuals, reducing the time to integrate processes and technologies, and ultimately moving more quickly to profitability.
The Result I first created a robust cultural due diligence tool for assessing the culture of target organizations. It was adopted by the due diligence teams, with the results being considered in the purchase decision and shaping the approach to onboarding, communicating, and integrating. We applied this to the next five acquisitions in which I had a role: in El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Channel Islands, and two in Peru. In addition to supporting announcement communications, I conducted cultural analyses of the acquired organizations, implemented workshops and change management programs with senior leaders, designed and delivered orientation and onboarding programs, implemented employment programs and policies within the context of a global employment brand, and created programs to engage employees in the organization’s vision and objectives.
In each of these acquisitions, transaction announcements unfolded flawlessly, public sentiment was positive, and, most of all, onboarding and integration processes were accelerated in comparison with previous transactions. High-performing employees from acquired organizations remained, almost without exception. Engagement rates a year on were on par with the organization overall. And the capability of - and appetite for - customizing communications and programs to address local cultural dynamics became entrenched in the overall approach.
With rapid growth, heightened competition, and increased scrutiny, this organization realized that it had no choice but to seize of the story it told and participate in the one being written by others.
Becoming digital-first in its approach to communications meant that this financial services organization had to re-think what communications was about: its goals, its limitations, and its processes.Educating on and embedding a digital-first mindset and related processes and guidelines across all areas of public affairs and communications.
This organization recognized that it could increase its visibility and build trust and engagement by developing high-value, engaging content on themes rooted in its brand identity - and then to integrate that content across channels.
As a business based on trust, this organization seized the opportunity to use social media to extend its reach, offer unprecedented accessibility, deliver efficient customer service, and directly engage its current and prospective customers in genuine and responsive dialogue.
This major bank recognized that strong communication and addressing cultural issues was critical to successful integrations - fostering employee engagement, retaining high-performers, and reducing the time to integrate processes and technologies.
Real cooperation and collaboration between functions of this professional services required more than knowledge and even financial rewards. It required relationships - where employees knew and understood their colleagues working in other areas of the business.
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