You’ve acquired a new business - fantastic! But before you run ahead and start thinking about your next acquisition, you first need to make sure this new one integrates with your existing business. If you think that’s easy, think again. To make sure your business succeeds now you’ve acquired another, you need to make sure you integrate employees and the culture of your new business integrates with your existing one. Here are some points you’ll need to consider.
It’s important to understand that you won’t be able to keep everyone happy during a merger integration and the majority of the cultural issues your employees raise won’t be the critical ones. That doesn’t mean you dismiss them, but you will have to keep the vital cultural issues central. Your incoming employees may feel like outsiders, but it’s important that you lay out the culture of your business early on, so your new employees understand what’s expected of them.
Performing a skills gap analysis is a great way to evaluate where your new employees are in their skills range, and this will move you towards better integration. As we talked about in the blog post Identifying the Skills Gaps in your Organisation, a skills gap analysis will help you to see where your employees need new skills and this will help you to understand what you need to focus on to integrate your new company. From this you can offer training, which will also strengthen the culture of your existing company within your acquired company. This will also strengthen your combined company and help integration to flow.
Cultural integration often begins with managing cultural change. Cultural change can come about because of varying different factors – changing markets, consumer expectations – but when you are looking at a combined company it comes about because of differing cultures attempting to integrate. To effectively manage cultural change you need to understand what your current culture is, why it is changing, and where it is heading. Re-enforce your organisation’s values within your team. Allow your team members to fully participate in the process. Listen, and communicate.
Uncertainty is pretty certain in any business, so understanding how to manage it is vital for your success. If you leave uncertainty to rumble on between your employees it’s likely to grow out of all proportion. Be present and be reassuring. Appoint an integration team and have a solid integration plan, and share this with your employees so everyone feels a part of the changes. If your team feels they are being kept in the dark they may start to panic and they may view incoming team members with suspicion. The same goes for your new acquisitions, so be transparent at all times, and share information.
If you understand the problems with a new culture within your business, you can see your way forward to solving the problems it can cause. Look ahead, plan, and enforce your company’s vital cultural points.