3 Steps to Avoid Post-Acquisition Culture Blues

Company culture is defined as, “shared values, beliefs, and behaviors that determine how people do things in an organization.” Culture is vital to employee and company success. Yet for all it’s worth, it is hard to manage and measure – especially during a major upheaval like a group move or an acquisition.

In a Bain survey of executives who have led mergers, conflicting company cultures was the number one reason a deal failed to deliver on revenue projections. When the way business gets done and how teams operate vastly differ between the two organizations, employees become frustrated and anxious. Progress stalls. Integration fails.


As you prepare for your group move or acquisition, create a strategy around merging company cultures to combat pitfalls. Incorporate 3 steps into your plan:

1. Clearly articulate what you want the company culture to be.

This starts at the top. CEOs must question, “What do I want the cultural integration to look like? How will our new, combined company be defined?”

As IMPACT Group prepared for an acquisition in 2013, CEO Lauren Herring spent extensive time speaking with the previous owner on this topic. “Ensuring there was cultural alignment was important to me, as I knew that is usually the critical factor relating to the success or failure of an acquisition,” Lauren shares. “One way to measure this was to understand the values of the organization and how work got done. In our case, the cultures were similar in the most important ways.”

Interview managers from both organizations who are staying in their roles to help you bridge company cultures and outline a plan. Gain insights into their leadership styles, what they like about the office environment, and suggestions they have on keeping employees engaged during the major transition.

2. Overcommunicate throughout the process.

Once you have the new company culture defined, meet with teams and departments to break it down for them. Overcommunicate in the beginning to uphold transparency and build back trust. “It’s important to keep both the new organization and the legacy organization well informed about plans going forward,” Lauren points out. “When employees are in multiple locations or work remotely, it’s critical to keep communication regular and clear. People want to know what changes are coming and specifically, what will affect them.”

Adoption will happen faster when you guide the way. Carve out time to address the collective companies weekly during the initial stages.

3. Focus on team building.

During acquisitions and group moves, you’re likely losing team members from your department while gaining new ones from the other company. This shift in team dynamics can be a productivity killer. With the ups and downs, it’s easy to go into survival mode and only focus on the task at hand.

However, this is prime time to implement team-building opportunities to solidify the new team structure and reinforce your culture. Encourage teams to work past the negative side of the upheaval and find common ground with their new teammates. Build in some fun to relieve tension.

Smart acquisitions define and reinforce company culture as a key component of the transition plan. Include this as part of your due diligence to emerge as one company.

Acquisitions are complicated. Let us lend a hand as you analyze redundancies. Our Strategic Planning Checklist addresses the four phases of reducing staff.

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