By now, most managers have heard the scary statistics floating around: around 70% of mergers and acquisitions fail to reach expectations. But the major question is, “Why?” To figure out why companies can’t seem to make M&A work, take a look at more scary stats from Towers Watson and PMI:
Only 25% of organizational change initiatives are successful over the long term
59% of companies surveyed said these initiatives fail because of insufficient communications
55% believe they failed because of a lack of leadership
To change the first statistic, managers really need to come to terms with the second two. Company leaders need to ensure they are providing consistent, effective communication every step of the way during M&A. There are three communication techniques to make your change initiative successful.
Train Leaders to Speak Up, Take the Reins
According to Towers Watson, 94% of employees were happier after M&A if their manager was a role model during the change. The problem comes with the fact that most companies are ineffectively training leaders to manage change — though it’s not for lack of trying. Towers Watson reports that 87% of companies train their managers to lead during organizational change, but only 22% reported that the training was effective. This means that there are no leaders communicating the reasons behind the move or the procedures of the actual M&A to employees.
Clearly this has to change before companies can undergo change.
Employees require a strong, well-trained leader to speak up and be the point of communication during change. If you haven’t trained that leader, effective communication is stunted from the get-go.
When it comes to M&A, feedback is crucial. That visible leader guiding employees through change, who you have trained, needs to open the doors of communication through multiple channels. Feedback should be embedded into the change process, and it should occur regularly so that employees know exactly how and when they can speak up on any issues.
There are two elements to overcommunicating: clearly explaining the reason for the change, and talking through any uncertainty about the results of the change.
Your millennial employees would love to hear about organizational change through technology channels like email, right? Don’t let generational stereotypes steer your wrong. Actually, according to Eagle Hill Consulting, fewer than one in five employees say email is the preferred method for getting information about the change — across generations.
Face-to-face communication — one-on-one and in both small and large groups — is ideal. This should be supplemented by, but never replaced by, email updates. Unfortunately, every generation says they receive way more emails than they have in-person meetings.
Effective communication is crucial to successful organizational change. This means training leaders, overcommunicating, and then speaking in person with every employee.