Joining companies together can be a real struggle for many organizations regardless if you are the acquirer or the acquired.
Throughout the past ten years, I helped welcome and transition at least four organizations into the FriendsOffice family. So, here are my Top 8 To-Do’s when it comes to bringing a new organization into the fold:
- DO ensure you have a roll-out process in place that everyone in upper and middle management agrees upon
The entire on-boarding scenario can be negatively affected if everyone isn’t on the same page. You know how rumors start – it’s like a game of telephone gone rouge! One rumor can cloud the entire process and cause disgruntled new employees, negative morale in the existing organization, a decline in revenues, confusion within your customer base, and probably more.
Have a real meeting with a template for roll-out prepared and include direct marching orders for key team members. Have one point of contact and one consistent message used by the team.
- DO get the buy-in and feedback from the former upper and middle management of the company being acquired on said roll-out process
Overall, the decision on a course of action should live and die with the acquirer, but by bringing in the perspective of the acquired your organization will have fewer disgruntled new employees since your game-plan will speak to some of their needs, too. If nothing else, at least understand where they are coming from so that you have well-rounded perspective and you are more prepared for their reactions. Your marching orders will be received much more smoothly when you show receptivity.
- DO send company SWAG, company brand guidelines, and a welcome kit to each new team member coming from the former organization.
From: Ellen Rodriguez
Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2019 12:14 PM
To: Ashley Barger
Subject: Thank You!
Thanks for sending the swag boxes for Liz and I today, it was so thoughtful. Looking forward to getting to know you better, as well!
Ellen Rodriguez, Interior Designer
By sending something like a “Welcome to the Team” gift, it illuminates your company messaging, branding, and culture. It takes the edge-off of worried and concerned new employees and puts the ball in their court. Are they able to transition with you? Time will tell, but at least you put your best foot forward and eased the tension so that the focus is on working together.
- DO send out a company-wide strategic memo that includes the agreed upon messaging by upper and middle management as soon as the deal closes
The more you can keep everyone on the same page and the appropriate messaging in front of employees and key individuals, the faster and better the outcome of the transition.
- DO send out a press release to key media contacts, former contacts from the acquired company, and current contacts of the acquirer as soon as the deal closes
The sooner the better; think far and wide and utilize every form of media that makes sense for your vertical market or industry.
- DO continue to repeat step 5 as many times as possible – internally and externally
Unfortunately, you cannot control perception but you can continue to communicate the appropriate messaging over-and-over again and with key individuals. Marketing and advertising are only effective when they are consistent, strategic, and on repeat. I don’t know about you, but I don’t run to the store the first time I hear about a sale. But, after I’ve heard it on the radio, I see it pop-in my email a few times, and I talk about the sale with a close friend, I probably will make time to go and check it out.
- DO offer training sessions on your programs and your processes to those employees who transition from the former organization
Just as pointed out in step 6, repetition is key! Allow the new employees to train with their new peers, but also have them train with middle and upper management so that they understand a higher-level perspective. If possible, ask them to demonstrate their knowledge of utilizing your programs and ask questions to evaluate engagement.
- DO evaluate engagement by testing the message, consistently, with everyone
Admittedly, this is a step often forgotten. We get the ball rolling and then we assume all-is-well. However, we’re human. People change. And, if the messaging isn’t rock-solid or there’s a bad egg in the mix, engagement can crumble pretty quickly. So, ensure you continue to empower your roll-out team leader to check-in with new hires and existing employees frequently. Have them test employees in their knowledge of the message (consistency).
I conclude this by candidly saying that we haven’t always gotten it right. I do feel that we’ve learned from our missteps quickly and that we are proud of our growth that is due, in part, by the quality of the organizations we’ve adopted into the Friends family.
Learn about our most recent acquisition, Clair David Office Furniture and Interior Design, here.
A graduate of The Ohio State University with a Strategic Communications degree, Ashley Barger resides in Findlay, Ohio where she is currently the Director of Communications for a $30 million office supplier, FriendsOffice. In addition to raising her three boys alongside her husband, she serves on three local boards of directors and manages her blog, Ashley Working on Purpose.