There is a reason most companies don’t have a full-time M&A Integration Communication Team on staff.
Reason: Organizations only need these resources and this expertise when they need it. But make no mistake about it: When companies need it … they absolutely must have it.
With that said, you don’t just snap your fingers and assemble an experienced M&A Integration Communications Team utilizing existing, internal resources. You can’t just pull people from the organization and expect them to have the scars, lessons learned, expertise and proven processes required to design and implement an effective M&A communications strategy. Why?
Because these people have day jobs. You hired them to run specific areas of the business, not to be M&A integration communication experts. No executive in his or her right mind would take a multimillion, sometimes multibillion dollar, business initiative and ask inexperienced leaders to attack it on a part-time basis. Or task leaders with defining a highly complex and intricate strategy when they have no track record of success in that area. Yet, this is what happens in many M&A transactions.
However, executives who have gone through mergers and acquisitions understand how critical battle-tested M&A communications expertise is to a successful integration process. They don’t put this highly strategic and visible initiative at risk by passing off M&A integration communication to leaders who can only address it on a part-time basis.
A great example of a leader who gets it (M&A integration communication) is Bob Peterson, President and COO at HilltopSecurities. We worked with Bob and his leadership team to ensure their merger integration communication strategy was holistic and sustained. As a result, the newly combined organization is performing at record levels. Here is what Bob had to say about the experience…
“OnMessage was instrumental in helping us bring together two different organizations with very different cultures. Their ability to establish a singular cultural message with clarity and alignment around our vision and corporate story has been invaluable throughout our merger integration process.”
Bob is well aware that 75 percent of M&A integration challenges are created by communication problems. These include unclear messages, gaps in communication, and ill-advised communication plans — internally and externally. That’s why he did not take integration communication lightly. He didn’t try to overlay this responsibility on top of team members who did not have the expertise or experience in this area.
He engaged outside experts with the resources, best practices and tools required to ensure his merger was a success. And that it was.