Navigating a Mergers & Acquisitions Culture Change


The financials are in order, the staff have been briefed, legal have signed off - if your company’s in the middle of a merger, it can feel like endless paperwork. But the work doesn’t stop when all the contracts are signed. 

Navigating the shift from one office culture to another can be tricky. Done well, it’s a seamless transition with minimal disruption. Handled badly, it’s a chaotic jumble of competing interests that can seriously impact productivity.

That’s why productivity is often the best place to start. Monitoring, measuring, and tracking those numbers can help companies ride out any M&A-related fallout and ensure employees get back to work without missing a beat.

Maintaining productivity during a merger

Step one - define productivity

If you’re going to maintain productivity, you’ll first need a consistent metric by which to measure it, and that starts with a consistent definition of the term. 

Not every company has the same understanding of what productivity actually is, or how to track it. Even within companies, employees often have different ideas about what it means to be productive so an organizational-wide definition can help align not just the two merging companies but also staff at all levels.

When defining productivity it’s helpful to consider the following:

  • What are your non-negotiable productivity markers or KPIs - Attendance? Attitude? Respect for deadlines?
  • How do you incentivize productivity? What does a productive employee look like?
  • What’s the relationship between productivity and performance, or the quantity of work versus its quality?
  • How does your company culture support (or hinder!) productivity?

Getting a clearer picture of what productivity means in both the target company and the acquiring company can help identify common ground between the two, any differences, and areas where both can learn from each other.

Step two - measure productivity

Your company will likely focus on measuring productivity after the merger to determine whether integration has been successful, but if you don’t have any benchmarks for comparison, those numbers won’t tell you much.

That’s why it’s crucial to analyze performance both before and after the deal is done. This may mean relying on tools such as Employee Productivity Monitoring software and other data-driven analytical platforms. 

Ensure your KPIs are consistent throughout the handover and keep expectations realistic - mergers are a significant disruptor and your team will need extra support during this time. Haranguing your employees for poor performance during the change - when they may be anxious about losing their job, or stressed about the future - can do more harm than good.

Step three - don’t ignore the culture shift

Around 95% of executives believe that cultural fit is critical to the success of a merger. So don’t forget this important aspect in the rush to maintain performance.

Much like productivity, corporate culture is hard to pin down into a single definition. Generally speaking, it’s a combination of wider societal norms, office policies, employee engagement, and a company’s goals and values.

Research from McKinsey analysts has the following recommendations for successful cultural integration, based on lessons learned from tracking over 2,800 mergers in the past five years:

  1. Run a culture diagnostic of both companies - do a deep dive into how work gets done in both organizations. Look at how the target company’s culture can benefit the acquirers, and vice versa, integrating the best aspects of both. 
  2. Determine the priority items - these should be based on two factors. Firstly, areas where culture can boost the success of the merger. Secondly, reframing potential areas of conflict into a series of ‘from - to’ shifts.
  3. Embed change - once a strategy emerges, it’s time to hard-wire it into the new organization at all levels, redesigning policies, procedures, and governance.

Step four - maximize employee engagement

Any successful merger depends on employee buy-in. And employee buy-in starts with communication, empathy, and support.

  • Communication - keep employees informed at all stages, with honest and timely communication. This will increase engagement, boost motivation, and enhance employee loyalty.
  • Empathy - some employees will be anxious at the prospect of change. It’s important to show compassion to these workers, providing reassurance where needed and being mindful that some will take longer than others to fully adjust.
  • Support - make sure all employees have everything they need to do their jobs in the new environment. Their roles may have shifted, requiring new teams or tools and that has to be managed carefully during the transition so no-one gets left behind. 

Employee Productivity Monitoring software, Prodoscore, can help managers understand how their teams are engaged, without intruding on their daily activity. The central dashboard gives users complete visibility into how their employees are using company tools to identify productivity gaps, highlight areas of improvement, and support workers who are headed for burnout. Contact our team today to see how Prodoscore can maximize productivity in your workplace.

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