Any business leader who has gone through a merger or acquisition understands the critical nature specific dates and events play in the process. There’s the letter of intent, the deal close date, public announcement, and of course Day 1—the day when the two separate companies begin the journey of becoming a single, high-performing entity.
All these dates are critical, but C-suite executives must remember that Day 1 is not the finish line. It’s just the starting line. Day 1 is the first of many days through which the executive team must engage in sustained communication to maximize the return on their M&A investment. The truth is that many executives forget this type of sustained communication. They are so focused on closing the deal that once it occurs, they quickly hand off communication responsibilities to other leaders across the organization.
Many C-suite executives also forget that those business leaders who take the handoff had day jobs before the transaction was announced. They were focused on running the business. That is why it is so important to remember that an M&A transaction creates a whole new set of integration communication responsibilities. These are responsibilities that someone, or more likely a team, must own and manage for many months after the deal is closed, in addition to their normal responsibilities. As a C-suite executives you need to clearly define:
- Who owns the messaging strategy that will guide the M&A story inside and outside the organization?
- Who owns the communications plan?
- Who will be responsible for executing sustained internal and external communication programs?
The fact is, most executive teams fail to reap maximum value from a merger or acquisition because they “short” the integration communication process.
They make too many assumptions about stakeholders understanding how the newly combined organization is supposed to work and what is expected of them. They underestimate the communication that is required to bring two cultures together. They underinvest in the disciplined and intentional communication that is required to engage and educate employees, partners, and customers throughout the journey.
Successful integration communication strategies require a full-court press on these and other fronts. Not the haphazard “We’ll get to it later or when we have the time” effort that many companies put forth.
Executives who have been part of M&A transactions without a clear messaging and communications strategy have learned this the hard way.
They have experienced firsthand the chaos and confusion that takes root when a disciplined communication strategy is not executed up and down the organization. To avoid these negative consequences, the C-suite must elevate the critical importance of communication. They must play an active role in shaping the story that will be pulled through the organization and customer experience after the announcement date.
Are you currently planning a merger or acquisition?
If so, it is time for you and your executive team to get in front of the communication requirements. It is essential that you create a sustained plan of attack.
Are you experiencing post-transaction chaos or confusion?
It’s not too late. Formulate a clear, consistent integration story. Build and start executing a disciplined communication plan today. In the end, it doesn’t matter when you recognize the critical role integration communication plays in M&A success. It’s just vital that you do. And that you then . . . do something about it.