When large organisational change happens, it isn’t surprising that employees first think, “What does this mean for me?”
This happens everywhere and in every company, regardless of where employees sit in the organization - and a merger or acquisition is probably the largest, most uncertain organisational change a company (and its employees) can go through. So how do you give people a sense of purpose, create certainty, and retain as many of your good people as possible?
Well, as I come to the end of the second year of a complex merger, here is a list of 5 things that I have observed, that have made a real difference in our company’s ability to retain staff.
1. Visible leadership.
Your leadership team is your biggest asset, but only if people have access to them, and can see how they are reacting - and whilst they too will also be feeling uncertain, it’s your job as the HR pro to make sure that they have a private space to express that, rather than expressing it in front of the people they’re supposed to be leading.
Perhaps the most overused, but under-deployed, management practice. You’ll be surprised how capable your employees are of dealing with the things you want to “protect them” from. If you don’t have answers to everything, that’s ok; just let people know that.
3. Keeping the trains running.
Development courses, internal recruitment, and annual events – you’ve got to keep these things going. They’re gold dust for reassuring people that some things aren’t changing, and that you’re still concerned about their careers. If you can, turbo-charge these things and make them stand out even more during a big organisational change.
4. Cutting quickly.
If you’ve got to make cuts, changes, or restructure, then do it quickly and be honest about it. People are expecting change and they won’t believe you if you say it’s not coming. It’s bandage management. Slow pain is big pain.
5. Explaining why.
If you’ve been working on a big deal for a while, it probably makes complete sense to you. But the people around you are trying to catch up. Why is the deal happening, what is the benefit, and what does the future look like? Don’t think you can communicate this just once and be done, either. Repeat and repeat until you’re blue in the face.
Finally, we hear so much about the need for HR to add value, and a major change is your chance to show that you can. If you have something coming up, go and talk to a fellow pro who has been through it. Ask them what they did that worked and what they would do differently, because I guarantee, they’ll have something to share.
Good luck, and if you have any additional tips please share them in the comments below!
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