Six ways to jump-start your newly formed organization

Your organization’s merger or acquisition (M&A) is a done deal. Congratulations!

It’s a big win, with big benefits and big challenges. When your organization structure and logistics are sorted, policies and procedures are final, data and systems integration challenges are met, you’re ready for the change that is coming.

Are you, though?

Too many organizations overlook a strategic ally for an M&A transition: the Learning and Development organization.

Onboarding is training brand new employees experience (or endure, depending on your perspective). But it’s also right for M&A. After all, on Day One after a merger or acquisition, every employee will be coming to work at a new organization.

Whether the organization takes on an existing identity or creates a completely new one, it’s a new environment.

Everyone is experiencing some level of uncertainty, everyone has questions, and everyone can benefit from a level-set that your L&D team can deliver.

Here are six things you can accomplish with onboarding for a newly merged organization:

  1. Establish the culture, mission, values, and vision of the new organization. Your culture, mission, and vision might come from one of the existing companies, from both of them, or it might be completely new. Addressing a new culture, vision, etc. is obviously a necessity, but even a review of existing ideas is beneficial. The training environment can also be a safe place for employees to discuss what the culture, mission, values, and vision of the new organization look like for them, and how to bring them to life.
  2. Send the right message. Having everyone participate in an onboarding class tells employees that everyone is starting anew! There are no “incumbents,” “winners,” or “losers” – just one team that is moving forward together.
  3. Engage SMEs across the new organization. Intentionally and thoughtfully pulling in SMEs from across both constituent organizations is a great way to build multiple perspectives into your onboarding. You’ll get the terms and references right for all groups, and get insights to the mindets of your onboarding participants. Bonus: it might be the start of some rewarding new connections. Speaking of which…
  4. Encourage new working relationships. Think about previous onboarding classes that you have been a part of. Chances are good that you can remember one or two people who were in your class; they might have been the first colleagues you reached out to when you had a question or needed a sounding board. There is something about being in a room full of people who are a little uncertain and starting on a new path that bonds people together.
  5. Set new expectations for employee development. In many organizations, employee development is partially intentional and partially left to chance. Thoughtful employee development approaches are the exception. In fairness, “development” has evolved a lot in the last four decades; ideas like career paths, peer mentoring programs, and performance improvement have become commonplace. Now is your chance to start with a clean slate of resources and offerings that invest in the new organizatoin’s most important asset. Instead of fostering feelings of risk and uncertainty among your team, this M&A event can accelerate their professional development.
  6. Refresh your learning solutions. Whether because of our love for the status quo or the tyranny of the urgent, L&D organizations rarely do a complete audit and refresh of their offerings. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? But a merger or acquisition is a great opportunity to get a new perspective on learning solutions, including new-hire onboarding. You have a new “customer” base, new SMEs, and new priorities. Take advantage of them!

Our Director of Change Management, Rory McKenna, wrote an excellent post on The People Side of M&A. I won’t spoil it for you, but he references our change methodology that includes making the change feel familiar, controlled, and successful. It’s a great read for anyone facing M&A.