Managing Team Collaboration After A Merger Or Acquisition
The company has closed its latest merger or acquisition!
Great news all round.
Except for IT, right?
You know there’s going to be a whole host of changes to be made. And after the initial company high fives, you now have a lot of work on your hands.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
You’re an experienced IT professional and have got everything covered on the IT side…
✅ Aligning everyone to the BYOD strategy? No problem.
✅ Ensuring everyone has the company standard anti-virus? Easy.
🤯 Migrating everyone that uses Slack onto… wait. What?
This is both a common scenario and a common reaction.
Questions we hear a lot when a company completes a merger or acquisition include:
- We acquired a company that uses Microsoft Teams. What should we do?
- We’re merging with another company and multiple Slack workspaces. Do I have to make a new one?
- I don’t want to force anyone to change their processes in month one. What should I do?
When mergers and acquisitions fail, McKinsey research finds it’s “mostly because organizations overlook organizational culture and human capital issues and pay scant attention to integrating these softer issues into the ‘hard’ integration process”.
In this post, we dig into how you can make the integration process for employees as simple as possible by getting your collaboration app experience as perfect as possible.
What’s the difference between mergers and acquisitions?
Mergers and acquisitions exist under the larger umbrella of business consolidation.
A merger consolidates staff, products, and services into a new entity. Mergers create new business models and structuring. The high-level employees in two teams may need to take on different roles.
Mergers aren’t as common as acquisitions. It’s not easy to create one business out of two. When mergers do occur, it’s often to boost revenue, expand into a new market, or reduce costs.
In an acquisition, there’s no creation of a new business. The smaller, purchased company ceases to exist. The assets and staff of that organization move into the bigger company.
An acquisition allows one company to take over another completely. When talent and tools move from one business to another, restructuring is essential. When a company buys another venture, they don’t have to adopt all its processes, staff, and tech.
The buyer generally gets to choose which elements of the company to take.
What are the types of mergers and acquisitions?
There are different types of mergers and acquisitions to consider.
- Conglomerate: Aligning firms with different activities and processes. A leading computer company might merge with a telecommunications brand. The aim here is to unlock broader opportunities for the purchasing organization.
- Horizontal: Combining two companies with a similar product or service. Merging two businesses in the same space leads to a larger range of products and services. For instance, Polycom and Plantronics merged in 2018. The two telecommunications companies had a similar audience.
- Vertical: Here, two companies in the same industry join forces. These businesses are at different points on the supply chain. Vertical mergers improve logistics and combine staff. They also reduce time to market. A clothing retailer buying a manufacturing company would be a vertical acquisition.
- Concentric: This involves blending companies who share similar customers. For instance, Sony makes DVD and Blu-ray players. Sony bought Columbia Pictures, a movie studio, in 1989. This meant Sony could produce the films that customers played on their Sony tech.
What are the biggest challenges of mergers and acquisitions?
Combining a company with another venture provides access to new talent and technology. But it’s not easy to link two businesses. Even if the brands have similar products, they may have different processes.
Making an M&A (Merger and Acquisition) process a success requires careful planning. Some of the most common challenges teams face are:
Company culture is important in today’s landscape. People want to feel like they’re part of an aligned team. When you merge with or buy another company, you’ll have two different sets of values to consider. Business leaders need to ensure that all employees are on the same page.
To avoid issues, look for M&A opportunities with groups that share similar values. It’s essential for companies to create brand guidelines for team members. Helping employees to understand the business mission will give them focus.
Information silos are a common problem. Over time, departments in your organization will form tight-knit groups. These groups include people who see each other and work together each day. Unfortunately, silos create a problematic mentality in the business.
If your sales team forms a silo, they may not share their information with the marketing or product team. Knowledge gaps lead to confusion and misalignment in business processes. When helping team members to bond, it’s important to encourage cross-team connections.
Make sure everyone has a place to connect. Instant messaging tools and collaboration platforms are crucial here. Everyone needs to be able to connect through chat, voice, and video. The more different groups communicate, the lower your risk of silo mentality.
Technology is crucial for keeping teams connected and productive. But every team has its own preferences. The average workplace uses an average of 3.3 different chat apps.
Each of those apps might include integrations with third-party tools. A failure to integrate communication tools leads to lost information and poor productivity. Companies need a way to connect internal employees and external contacts.
Some business apps come with native integrations. Others need access to specific federation tools. For example, Mio syncs conversational channels.
When your M&A process is complete, you’ll need an easy way to continue reaching those contacts. Mio offers a cross-platform federation for this purpose. Universal channels connect teams to external contacts. Your new colleague continues using their preferred app, while you use yours.
Having universal channels reduces the need for guest accounts and other complications that might arise when merging with another company.
Collaboration app considerations when combining departments
When combining departments (internally or externally), there may be a mixture of collaboration tools in play. It’s in these unique scenarios where employee engagement during mergers and acquisitions is at its most critical point.
For example, your accounts team could use Microsoft Teams to chat with each other. But the wider finance team, which is now integrating with the accounts team, all use Slack to collaborate.
In this scenario, you’ve got three options.
- Move everyone to Microsoft Teams. Accounts is happy but the wider finance team must learn how to use Teams, migrate all its Slack data to Teams, and lose any custom workflows.
- Move everyone to Slack. The wider finance team is happy but the accounts team must learn how to use Slack, migrate all its data to Slack, and lose any Microsoft integrations.
- Let both teams use their preferred apps and connect them in the background.
If you choose option three, all you need to do is install Mio, sync your teams, and let your teams send messages cross-platform.
Combining departments doesn’t mean everyone has to move to a single app. Failure to cater to everyone’s preferences—which leads to increased productivity—causes unsettled staff during a period of uncertainty.
No matter how well your merger or acquisition goes, there will always be staff curiosity around retention and potential changes. Don’t let your choice of collaboration apps add to that anxiety.
What about integrating employees after acquisition?
When you’re integrating employees after acquisition, you have the same three choices as combining departments.
- Move everyone to the app you use.
- Move everyone to the app your acquired company uses.
- Let them both use their preferred apps and connect them in the background.
The extra intricacy when integrating employees after an acquisition is that they might be using two or more collaboration apps themselves.
So now you have your collaboration app (or apps) plus the new app from your acquired company.
First of all, merging tenants or workspaces of any kind is tricky. Even if both companies use Microsoft Teams, for example, there’s a lot of background work required.
If you keep treating your new teammates as contractors, then workplace silos form. Are you anything more than two companies trying to force collaboration?
For successful employee integration post-acquisition, it’s vital you plan which collaboration app (or apps) you’re going to use.
Spend considerable time planning whether you’re staying a Microsoft house—or merging Microsoft houses. Take into account those users who don’t (or won’t) use Teams no matter how much you push them.
The best-case scenario is they continue using shadow IT tools and you never hear about it. The worst-case scenario is that you do hear about it because your data and security protocols have been breached.
And by that point, it’s too late.
How do you integrate an acquired employee?
Regardless of which apps or apps you’re going to use post-acquisition, integrating them into your business from day one can make or break.
If you ignore them or fail to live up to their expectations, you’ll lose their faith.
What happens then?
Either they seek employment elsewhere because they feel unwanted or they make their own guesses on what to use, how to use it, and where they think support should come from?
Other than obvious disadvantages like friction and distrust, this often leads to new employees outsourcing their support and management. An unnecessary invoice is not a good reflection on the merging of teams when you’re entrusted with integrating acquired employees.
Here are some best practices to follow when integrating a new employee:
- Plan regular comms updates
- Prepare a dedicated support channel
- Create an onboarding plan
- Pro-actively follow-up to make sure things are working as expected
Each of these can be tricky to accommodate when using multiple collaboration platforms.
Try syncing your platforms to minimize comms efforts and maximize reach:
- Connect your platforms in the Mio hub
- Decide which channels you need to sync between each platform
- Sync your employees so everyone shows up on both platforms
- Create a dedicated channel for support queries
- Employees on any platform can join and raise a query or see tickets in progress
- Use onboarding integrations to welcome acquired employees
- Set reminders or schedule messages to follow-up to make sure things are working as expected.
Managing team collaboration after a merger or acquisition
Just because you’ve acquired a company that uses different collaboration platforms doesn’t mean you need to isolate one collaboration tool.
Nor does it mean you must settle on the friction and communication silos created when using more than one messaging tool in the workplace.
Hopefully, the considerations above have reassured you that it’s not impossible to manage your messaging and chat platforms post-acquisition.
It will, absolutely, take some blood, sweat, and tears to get there.
But, if that’s not for you, Mio can get your newly-expanded team collaborating in no time.