Despite knowing that corporate culture is important, organizations still struggle with how best to convert an appreciation for cultural differences into a definitive plan of action for successfully executing a transaction.
According to Mercer's research, the most successful transactions engage senior leaders early in the process, which ensures a clear understanding of cultural differences and identifies and prioritizes actions that will inform, influence, and accelerate the integration effort
Mercer recently conducted a global online survey among 68 of its acquisitive clients. We then supplemented the data with in-depth client interviews.
Conduct early stage culture due diligence: As organizations navigate the earliest stages of a deal, HR should engage leaders on the topic of corporate culture with the objectives of:
Specifying the behaviors required for success
identifying the non-negotiables (areas where change is not welcome)
Ensuring corporate alignment on aspirational cultural attributes
Plan for successful integration by:
Understanding the target company culture from publicly available information
Analyzing data on culture from both the acquirer and the target (including executive interviews, labor flow data, and online employee surveys)
Determining the desired "new" culture of the new organization and the associated behaviors that will lead to success
Identify and implement the drivers of behaviors (for example, employee reward/recognition, employee engagement, talent management) that will have the greatest impact on culture change.
Monitor and track culture change by:
Deploying a series of pulse check surveys to monitor progress; adapt drivers as needed
Implementing an annual employee engagement survey to gain insights, gather views, and experiences
Recognizing and celebrating achievements
The keys to addressing culture in M&A transactions are to begin the process early, engage leaders, and use data to inform integration planning. Place your bets on interventions that will have the greatest impact in the near term.