1. Communicate transparently: Remember that people resist any change which comes to them as a surprise. Hence, develop a transparent and systematic communication plan to timely inform shareholders, customers, employees and third-party vendors the key changes planned in the PMI and how they are likely to impact them.
2. Engage with people right up to the grass-root level: Understand that people trust their immediate managers with whom they work closely. Hence, mobilize your business unit leaders and function leaders to be the exponents of key changes. These leaders need to engage, sensitize and prepare their team members to be ready for the planned changes. Follow this process up to grass root level to engage people across the organization chart.
3. Assure zero disruption to customers and find new opportunities: Assess how the planned changes will impact different customer segments. Connect with key customers to assure that the new entity will serve them without any disruption in service or degradation of its quality. Start the transition process well in time, in case re-alignment of key account executives is on the plan. Moreover, start having conversations around additional capabilities and scale you will develop with the M&A deal and how can you leverage them to help your clients.
4. Design a robust talent retention program: List down the skills and competencies, which are a must to drive growth in your business. Also, record the key accounts, which contribute significantly to the business. Hence, identify people across business functions who manage these accounts and have expert level of proficiency in the critical skills. Assess propensity to leave of this talent pool and define segments based on their business unit, function, and rank in the organization structure. Finally, design a retention program for each segment with a fair mix of tangible and intangible benefits with well-defined vesting period.
5. Allow enough time to people to assimilate the change: Sudden changes are difficult to adapt, be it change in operating model, or change in role, or change in performance evaluation criteria. Hence, provide people enough time to adapt any change in their ways of working. Moreover, take a digital first approach to train them on next-generation business critical skills and enable them with technology-driven tools to better manage any additional responsibilities.
Key considerations before you kick-off
Before embarking on cultural integration and change management, make sure you contemplate on below check points:
- Resources: Do you have enough resources to dedicate for cultural integration and change management? Typically, it will need a cross-functional and cross-business unit team to design and implement the program across the organization.
- Expertise: Do you have the right capabilities? For instance, cultural integration is highly strategic and should be assigned to only those with strong credentials and experience in culture assessment and cultural transformation assignments. Similarly, Change Management needs strong program management and people skills.
- Communication: Do you have expertise in managing disclosure of highly sensitive information to internal and external stakeholders at each stage of the deal lifecycle? A critical aspect here is that while communicating key implications of the deal, you maintain positive perception of the organization and its leadership in the minds of the stakeholders.
- Budget: How much budget do you have for talent retention? At what levels do you want to launch this program? How do you want to split between the tangible and intangible benefits? How much vesting period will be ideal?
In case you are not prepared on any of the above consideration, you may appoint an external partner, ideally with strong expertise in conducting end-to-end PMI program in your industry. This may certainly help as seasoned consultants having worked with multiple clients bring strong experiential learning to the table.
Lastly, to run a smooth and sustainable integration, always consider cultural integration and change management as the central elements of your PMI program. This will preserve the cultural DNA nurtured by the leaders and also drive growth to achieve the vision of the combined organization!
- The framework has been adapted from Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument by Robert Quinn & Kim Cameron