During an integration, employees and customers who are left out of the information loop or receive mixed messages are more likely to feel marginalized and taken for granted. Unfortunately, in the throes of an integration, it is easy for communications to be de-prioritized and neglected. To help ensure all stakeholders receive frequent, accurate, timely information, communication plans should be developed with clear accountabilities regarding who is going to say what, to whom, and by when.
Plans should cover not just Day 1 and Week 1, but also the 180-day period after close. The flow of information needs to be continuous and specific to maintain a sense of continuity and reduce uncertainty. Stakeholders tend to react negatively to ambiguity. While acquirers can't immediately answer all questions, they can still explain their objectives and commit to answering questions at a specific pace and time.
This section provides M&A communication plans, presentations, and playbooks that can be tailored for the particulars of a deal. Communication documents to get ready specifically for Day 1 can be found at M&A Day 1.
Answers to Employee FAQs
Answers to 43 common frequently asked questions by employees on the front-end of an acquisition.
- Will offices or other facilities be closed?
For the time being there will be no changes and we will continue to go to market as we have in the past. We will begin immediately to get to know each other and develop plans to combine our businesses in the most effective way ...
The deal will create numerous questions in the minds of stakeholders. By anticipating their concerns in advance, you’ll be better prepared to address them. We have compiled lists from our M&A integration consulting projects of the most common questions asked by:
Common Employee Questions
We refer to the first ten questions on the list as “me issues” because they are focused on the most common personal concerns of employees. Until these “me issues” are resolved, people are …
Most IT processes and procedures will remain unchanged on Day 1. Acquired Co. and Acquirer’s IT teams will be working closely together over the next several months to bring our IT systems together in the way that best suits the needs of the business. In the meantime, review the FAQs below to learn more about the IT transition and what it means for you. For even more information, check out the FAQ on Integration Central at http://www.ourcompany.com/integration ...
Talking Points for Executives at Employee Meetings
Answers to Employee FAQs
Excerpt from Talking Points for Executives at Employee Meetings
- Welcome everyone! It’s a pleasure to meet with you today. We’ve invited you here to celebrate the announcement of our acquisition by a highly regarded, successful private equity firm,____________.
- Our acquirer provides management and oversight for the multiple businesses in their portfolio, which will soon include our company.
- I’d like to remind you that the deal has only been announced. It has not closed. We anticipate closing the deal by year-end, but it’s not final yet. We’ll let you know as soon as the contract is signed.
- We’re keeping our company name and brand. Our sterling reputation for quality products and excellent service will help us retain existing customers and acquire new ones.
Q: Will my benefits change (insurance, 401k, etc.)?
A: Employees currently enrolled in the target Company benefits plans will continue their coverage under the current provisions of their benefits package. Once your job is transitioned to New York you will receive information on COBRA that will allow you to continue their benefits for up to 18 months.
Q: Do I need to start answering the phone as an Acquirer employee?
A: No, you will continue with conducting business as usual and answering the phone as Target Company.
Q: Will I be reporting to someone from Acquirer ...
- What HR integration initiatives will be corporate driven and do not need to be “solved” (only executed) in other plans?
- What Finance integration initiatives will be corporate driven and do not need to be replicated (only executed) in other plans?
- Are there any mandatory time parameters I should use for organizational structuring initiatives?
- If I have assigned another BU or Function to one of my initiatives what should I do? …
M&A Communication Planning
- Keys to Integration Success - Strategic Imperatives
- Integration Communications - Strategic Implementation
- Integration Communications - Approval Workflow
- Communication Objectives
- Communications Task Force
- Message and Materials Development
- Pre-Day One Communications
- Integration Toolkit
- Internal Branding Strategy
- Day One - Strategy and Tactical Overview
- Day One - External Stakeholder Outreach
- Announcement Schedule - Day One and Beyond
- Day One Internal Tactical Elements
- Integration Expectations Survey
- First 100 Days - Strategy
- Day 100 Celebration and Evaluation of Success
- Culture Building and Re-Branding
- Communications Timeline
Chartering the Integration Communication Team
Purpose—To ensure we are all in agreement about the objectives of the team, we will document what we will deliver, how we will measure success, how we will communicate with other project teams, what our resource needs are, and possible barriers or constraints.
- Objectives of Communication Plan
- Communication Components
- Strategic Conversations
- Communication Action Items
- April Communication Calendar
- May Communication Calendar
Communication Restrictions - EMEA
Distribution Process - EMEA & AP
Distribution Process - AP
Communication / Translation Process
HR Recommendations - Organization Structure
HR Recommendations - Processes
- Level-set on M&A integration communication best practices
- Understand M&A integration communication approaches and progress-to-date
- Define Charter and Operating Model for Communications Team
- Define a set of integration communication Guiding Principles …
Objectives of Communication Plan
Plant-Level Communications Site HR Responsibility
Organization Structure Announcement
Preparing to Communicate
Communications: Lessons Learned
9-slide presentation covers checklists for assumptions, actions, process steps, and communication vehicles.
Suggested Core Message Content for Stakeholders
Employee Communications Survey
Communications Planning Matrix
Example: Communications Planning Matrix
Communication Effectiveness Criteria
Communication Event Evaluation Form
Acquisition Press Release Outline
Announcement Presentation Outline to Acquirer’s Employee
Announcement Presentation Outline to Acquired Company’s Employees
- A Plan for Managing External Communications / Press Releases Related to the Merger
- A Plan for Managing Internal Communications / Events Related to the Merger
- Communications to Ensure an Issue Free Day 1
- Communications for Managing the Successful Onboarding Orientation and Cultural Assimilation of Employees from Acquired Company
Communication Plan includes over 250 tasks by Week from Announcement to Close for:
Customers & Partners
- Build and present the Peer-to-Peer Matrix for Target Co. employees
- Build agenda/outline of events
- Draft speeches, rewrites and edits
- Define all stakeholders (Presenters, audience, support staff, etc. to execute ALL day tasks/functions from food, audio, laptops, hotel, etc.)
- Create invite to Day 1 (email, letters, webinars, voicemail etc.)
- Set date for invite(s) to go: First one immediately after Press Release and Investor Call, and a reminder early in the morning of Day 1. Include location address and specific times
- Website: make all adjustments and key information for Target employees available online. Include investor link and provide a FAQ's link for employees
- Invite all off-site employees into webinar/audio for Day 1 event
- Have appropriate HR personnel onsite for Day 1 to address questions/issues/concerns about new benefits…
M&A Communication Best Practices
Communication Guidelines for Acquiree Interactions
- General Guidelines for Answering Questions
- General Guidelines for Addressing Difficult Audience Members
- Know Your Audience
- Visual Aids
The next time you see or read about a top executive announcing a merger/acquisition, pay close attention. I’m betting the boss mismanages expectations by making at least one of these five common but wrong-headed remarks.
1. “We don’t anticipate making any changes.”
Why wouldn’t you? During a merger or acquisition, people are primed for change. They expect it. So you should use this window of opportunity to make needed changes. No company is perfect. Take advantage of the situation and seize the opportunity to make improvements. Besides, over the weeks and months to come, something is bound to change. It may have nothing at all to do with the merger per se, but that doesn’t matter—the merger will be the convenient whipping boy. With the merger in the forefront of people’s minds, that’s where they’ll lay the blame.
2. “This is a merger of equals.”
Actually, the term “merger of equals” is a technical term used in M&A to indicate, for example, that the deal qualifies for a specific tax treatment. But the phrase gets misinterpreted. Employees decode it to mean that both companies will be treated as equals so far as integration decisions are concerned. What’s worse, executives often misuse the term in attempting to assure people that neither company will dominate the other. Even if that’s the political intent of top management ...
An integration initially produces more problems than solutions.
This is the “it gets worse before it gets better” phenomenon. And it’s totally predictable.
As people have to break their familiar routines, performance weakens. It’s an awkward time, with more confusion, communication problems and job stress.
This is a completely normal turn of events. Just the same, it looks bad. If people aren’t mentally prepared for it, chances are they’ll conclude that the integration plan isn’t working. The grumbling gets louder, and the merger loses steam.
Resistance always spikes up when predictable integration problems take people by surprise ...
1. Shaving the truth
Protect your credibility by "telling it like it is," no matter how painful "it" may be.
2. Failing to address the “me issues”
When employees become preoccupied about what might personally happen to them, they focus less on their work. Take care of their "me" issues in a hurry.
3. Not telling your troops there will be some course-corrections
An integration unfolds like a fast-moving, changing story. Help people understand the volatility of the situation.
4. Hoarding information and answers
If you withhold information from people, they may eventually figure it out and withhold information from you.
5. Dodging the tough issues ...
Key Findings: Misses
–Large (e.g., 500+ employee) town halls in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Phoenix
–Recorded phone messages from CEO
–Several days with excessive communications and mixed messages from multiple sources
Communication problems have always ranked #1 on the list of generic problems during integration. But they’ve hit a far higher threat level now because of today’s communication technology.
With email, Twitter, Facebook, and such, it’s like every employee runs a broadcasting station. The speed, reach, and sheer volume of information circulating from the people in your workforce eclipses what was possible just a few years ago.
This has serious implications for an M&A scenario.
We know that when change hits, the first scan is for danger. This is just human nature…the survival instinct at work. So when a deal is announced, people instantly scan for how it might be threatening to their careers. This creates a mindset colored by uncertainty, anger, and distrust. What employees see and hear is perceived through this negative filter, and their …
M&A Communication to Employees
Why Acquired Co.
Market Strength / The People
Acquired Co. Overview
Strategy for The Future North America
Opportunities for Employees
What Has Been Determined Thus Far
Communication Plan Objectives
- Protect the base business; maintain focus on day-to-day operations
- Make a good first impression; deliver Day 1/Welcome Week playbook, timeline and training
- Transparent, timely communication about what matters
- Provide functional M&A integration communication processes, tools, counsel …
Two letters, one from the CEO and and the other from the Integration Manager, emailed to team leaders that provide information on the role of team leaders, the hierarchy of teams, the mission, team guidelines, synergy targets, scope of the integration, meeting schedule, and team launch meeting.
- Communication of New Benefits Plan
- Talking Points
- Timeline for Communicating Benefits Program
First Page of 3-Page Merger Integration Update
It’s now been three months since we combined our companies. I’d like to explain what integration challenges lie ahead and how you can continue to help.
First, I thank you all for your cooperation and hard work. Integrating two companies is tough and I recognize that many of you have put in a lot of additional effort to help the two companies begin operating as one. I thank everyone for their patience. During a transition there are always more questions than answers, and I appreciate your ability to stay focused and productive in spite of the inevitable ambiguity and uncertainty that mergers always bring.
We still have a way to go. I’m aware of the differences in the management styles of the two companies and am committed to improving our cultural integration effort. I’m also aware of our failure to communicate as often as people would like. I hope this update is a demonstration of my commitment to improve in that area as well ...
TO: Acquired Co. and Acquirer Employees
Today, we have completed the acquisition of Acquired Co. We have the unique opportunity to build upon our complementary portfolio, strong businesses, recognized brands and quality products to become one of the leading companies in our industry. To our newest employees, let me be the first to welcome you to Acquirer.
This acquisition is a game-changer for all of us. We are now a $5.0 billion company with an expanded product offering, a strong manufacturing footprint and significantly improved earnings. All of this makes for a better, stronger Acquirer – which in turn creates a stronger global Acquirer enterprise with the resources and strategic focus to continue investing in our growing business ...
What Our Company Needs from You
- Continue to be patient and understanding as we push through some of the tough integration challenges related to the core parts of our business.
- When you need more clarity or direction, ask your manager or supervisor. Don’t let ambiguity paralyze you or make you complacent.
- Put our customers and the business first. Don’t get distracted by what you may believe serves our internal organization at the expense of what our customers need.
- Get to know your new work colleagues. Take the initiative to reach out and introduce yourself. If you’re not sure who they are, work with your manager or supervisor to find out.
- Be tolerant of cultural differences. Just because a particular approach worked well in the past …
M&A Communication to Customers and Suppliers
The Core Messages
First 2 of 21 Customer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How will we add value specifically to a customer’s business?
We will work with you to ensure that you benefit from our larger portfolio and greater technical know-how. Your current salesperson will meet you to discuss more specifics.
- Is this going to result in price increases?
Prices could increase or decrease due to market conditions, not out merger. We operate in a very competitive marketplace so our products will remain price competitive...
Six pages of communication guidance for supplier-facing teams that includes key messages, talking points, sample supplier letter, and supplier FAQs with answers.
- Our mission is to create a great place to work for our team members, great products and partnerships with our customers and suppliers across the markets we serve, and a great business that supports local economies.
- Nothing changes in the near term.
- We will act with purpose, focus and transparency to integrate our two companies working closely with our stakeholders every step of the way.
- Our relationship with our suppliers is critical to our future success. Our focus on delivering the best products and services to our customers and maintaining strong supplier partnerships ...
Today, we announce exciting news: Company A has completed its acquisition of Company B. This combination creates an organization even better able to serve customers and compete in the global marketplace.
Our new name is Company AB and our company's website is now CompanyAB.com. The name change symbolizes our intention to broader our business platform and deliver more value to our customers.
We know our success is dependent on your success, and we are excited about what the new Company AB has to offer:
Acquisition Announcement to Suppliers
Answers to Supplier FAQs
Excerpt from Supplier FAQs
- What is the purpose for Global Procurement?
To provide the largest volume opportunity for our supplier business partners. We believe that with larger volumes the supply base’s manufacturing cost will be lower, thereby reducing our cost.
- What are the short and long-term implications?
Short Term - We will be focused on reducing our supply base to maximize the volume for selected suppliers. Longer Term - We will work to integrate more with our smaller supply base, and to learn how to combine our resources with those of our suppliers. This will include logistics ...
Examples of communications to customers from three different acquirers and deals.
Excerpt from first example:
T4 has recently announced its agreement to purchase OCN to become one of the foremost business service providers in North America. This provides our customers the opportunity to access an enhanced service portfolio over a larger geographic area. T4 is and will remain committed to supporting our customers’ mission critical requirements ...
About 100 days after Close, it’s a good idea to take the temperature of the two companies’ customers. Chances are they may have experienced some turbulence caused by the transition. They’ll probably appreciate a little special attention at this point, so it certainly can’t hurt to touch base and find out if they’re experiencing any problems that you might not otherwise be aware of.
It may be uncomfortable to go looking for bad news, but it’s even worse if customers have a problem with your business and don’t tell you about it. It’s up to the seller to keep the lines of communication open. A survey is one way to promote a dialogue with customers and give them an opportunity to tell you how well the combined organization is meeting their needs …
Ten pages of guidance for customer-facing employees and teams to help them communicate effectively with their customers about the acquisition. Includes communication tips, talking points, letter and answers to FAQs.
Answers to 28 Employee Frequently Asked Questions
What should I tell our customers?
Customer-facing employees should carefully review the Customer Communication Playbook for detailed information on how, when and what to communicate with customers. The most important thing we can tell our customers is that nothing changes immediately. They will continue to receive the same distinctive quality and service they have come to expect from us. You can assure our customers that we will not miss a beat in delivering on our commitments.
How will you decide who gets the account in cases where both companies service the same customer ...