5 rules for simplifying merger communications

How to make the process less confusing and frustrating for employees.

There’s something about mergers and acquisitions that seems to bring out the hand-wringers. There is so much potential disaster and so little real guidance.

On the surface, the communication challenge is straightforward: you’re bringing two organizations together, typically competitors. That creates a raft of issues that need management. But it’s just that—management!

Here are five simple rules to help any communicator be more effective when it’s time to put on the merger communications hat.

1. Remember that employees are people. At the outset, employee concerns are going to be top of mind for them. They don’t care about the impact on customers, they care about whether their jobs, benefits, pay, taxes, etc., are changing. And, of course, you don’t know any of that early on. But they don’t believe that you don’t know. Trust is broken almost immediately for the target organization, and it’s going to take time to rebuild it.

The tendency (in publicly-traded companies) is to use the merger press release as the template for employee communications. Don’t do it. Yes, a high proportion of employees will be stockholders, but that’s not how most see themselves. They’re employees, and right now they’re scared.

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