Merging your SME smoothly with a solid structure

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From whatever angle you’re approaching it, mergers and acquisitions often come with several challenges. Aside from the fundamental financial and operational changes that can come as a result go a merger, there is something to be said for laying the groundwork and making sure the structure is in place to support such a dramatic change.

Below, we’ll focus on a few tactics that all sides of the merger should utilise to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Consider the culture – On both sides, the working cultures might be dramatically different. This refers to everything from working attitudes to flexibility. For example, just because one company values the potential of remote working and flexible working hours, that doesn’t mean the other will. Indeed, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect some clashes over culture and work ethics. The cultural differences might even exist at a more fundamental level – for example, if you’re merging with a company that’s based overseas.

Different strokes – There are several ways to manage a merger. The ‘dominant’ company will leave its new acquisition to operate as its own separate entity, fold it into the larger company or dissolve the smaller brand and absorb its employees. Whether you go for full integration or a hybrid approach depends on the teams and the situation. There is no one correct way to manage a merger.

Build your team – In order to ensure a smooth and stable transition, you need to make sure that management on both sides of the aisle are on the same page. You need to ensure regular communication and complete transparency, otherwise, you’ll end up with a situation where both sides are singing from a different hymn sheet and striving for different goals. During the transitionary period, it might be a good idea to bulk out the team with a transformation director who can focus specifically on making sure the transition runs as smoothly as possible. It’s also worth making sure that everyone knows each other (at least a little) before ‘judgement day’ arrives.

Be realistic – There will be drops in productivity and the merger will be disruptive – there’s no getting around that. What you can do, however, is temper your expectations and be realistic with your workflow planning. Allow time to work through a multitude of changes and keep expectations calm and considered.

Find your superstars – There will be some employees who embrace the merger and others who work against it. Make sure you focus on those that are on board with the new status quo and understand the need for change and get them to set an example for everyone else. This is more likely to be employees that felt disaffected under the ‘old order’ or relatively new employees who hadn’t had enough time to grow accustomed to it.

Know who’s boss – Generally speaking, a merger will typically consist of a larger company acquiring a startup. Equal mergers seldom happen. If you are aware that there is one dominant voice, however, it can be easier to position the acquired company within its new owner’s embrace.

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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.