Is there a merger on the horizon for your coop or ag business? If so, congratulations. It’s a big deal when a company grows in size, scope, or industry influence. We know it takes time, energy, and resources to get your teams and systems aligned with the new way of doing business.
Defining a “successful” merger
A key factor in achieving alignment is ensuring your managers and supervisors know how to lead through organizational change. Because, while increasing company headcount or territory size looks good on paper, a truly successful merger is harder to quantify. Here are some ways to gauge it.
- Are employees proud to be part of the new company or do they still associate with the old business?
- Have teams from different coops unified or is there an “us vs. them” mentality?
- Are workers open or resistant to adopting new systems and processes?
- Are existing employees staying put or running for the exits?
- Are prospective hires excited or reluctant to join your team?
If you come up short on any (or, gulp, all) of these questions, such “merger misalignment” can stop you from leveraging all the resources of a new company. Even if you’re hitting your numbers goals, you may not be reaping the full benefits that come with a thoughtfully and carefully executed merger.
Consider this—before a merger happens
Below are three considerations for companies hoping for a merger that employees and leaders (and customers!) all support and celebrate.
1. Bigger isn’t always better. Put another way, “better” doesn’t automatically follow “bigger.” No matter how exciting the opportunity to grow sounds, a merger is risky. It can make or break a company, or turn it into something that no one quite intended. But you can better control the outcome—and minimize the risk—when your leaders are skilled in change management.
2. Alignment means turning values into behavior. Newsflash: Hanging a poster on the wall of the breakroom that reads, “At this company, we believe …” is NOT how you define the values or culture of your organization. When a merger is at hand, it’s more important than ever for leaders to be intentional about turning culture and values into behavior and actions that move the new company forward.
Here’s an example of a leader embodying the “shared ownership” value at Prairie State Tractor (PST), a John Deere dealership in Illinois we helped go through a merger in 2021. Paul Kelly, the HR manager told us,
“After the merger, an employee came up to me and said, ‘Paul, your company is great.’ I said, ‘It’s not my company. It’s OUR company. It’s not me. It’s we.’ Thanks to the culture- and values work we’d done with People Spark, I knew how to immediately address a specific behavior related to the culture we want at PST.”
3. Proactive investments in company culture drive retention. Since managers and supervisors are on the frontlines of every transition, they directly influence how much employees embrace or reject changes. When leaders are intentional about defining the culture and values of the new company ahead of time, they’re able to communicate clearly and consistently, with reliable information and a unified vision of the future. And that helps everyone feel better.
It’s no secret that a merger can ruffle feathers (or worse) with employees at every level. But it doesn’t have to. Proactively aligning managers and supervisors around the new company’s culture, values, and desired behaviors is an investment in your organization’s long-term success. Because when leaders sharpen their change-management skills ahead of a merger, great things can happen, right from the get-go.
If there’s a merger in your company’s future, sign up for the next Ignite to Transform cohort. The 8-week program teaches leaders to give effective feedback, manage and encourage strong performance, and engage and retain high-performing employees. Watch this video and book a free informational call to find out more.