JOHNSON ON DISTRIBUTION MANAGEMENT: The Merger Syndrome - Employee Reactions
Any merger, regardless of size, can be difficult and challenging. Not recognizing and dealing effectively with the merger syndrome can lead to failure. The following key areas of concern must be addressed.
1. INFORMATIONThe first reaction by managers and employees is a feeling of powerlessness and ignorance. They may not understand the new environment of their work situation and its implications for their day-to-day activities and employment future. Mistrust, cautiousness and lack of information often lead to the development of rumors, speculation and uninformed half-truths, which can be given abnormally high levels of credibility.<
2. CONFIDENCEThe announcement of an acquisition - regardless of timing - is sudden and often an unexpected event. Confidence and trust in management is diminished and credibility may be severely undermined. Communication with all employees must be immediate and precise without making empty promises.
3. INSECURITYIn an environment of uncertainty, management and employees are liable to focus their energies increasingly on their own personal job situations, to lobby and react emotionally and even vindictively to their loss of security in the new situation.
4. PRODUCTIVITYAs employees become increasingly distracted by concerns over uncontrollable and unforeseen events which will influence their lives, they become unable to concentrate as fully on their work activities. This is manifested in procrastination, avoidance of decision making, absenteeism, tardiness and increased sick time.
5. SELFISHNESSBecause employees and managers are acutely aware of their individual vulnerability, they frequently back away from previous commitments to group or team participation, in fear that their membership may lead them to be identified with a group which is at risk.
6. POLITICAL PLAYSThe merger or acquisition will usually result in some changes in the structure of power and influence, and this may be a major realignment. During the period before new organizational changes are announced, individuals may focus most of their energies and efforts in trying to devise ways of promoting their personal position, often at the same time attempting to sabotage or undermine those of colleagues they perceive to be rivals.
7. LOYALTYBecause the new structure is unknown and company goals and objectives may change, loyalty to both individuals and old ongoing projects and programs is diluted. Managers may even assume an ongoing responsibility will be changed and that it therefore deserves little or no further attention.
TEN BEHAVIORAL GUIDELINES FOR MANAGEMENT WHEN ACQUIRING ANOTHER COMPANY