Post Merger Management- Team-Build or Bust

‘Yesterday employees took orders.Sue McCauley
Today teams make decisions’

Dennis Waitley, Empires of the Mind

Mergers are exciting, gut-busting events, that promise the growth opportunity to deliver a significant step-change in the business. Executed effectively, they can provide exponential increase in market share and fundamental transformation in the way business is done. Alternatively they can weaken or destroy the original organisations and join a long line of casualties

That most mergers fail to provide any significant shareholder value is not news (Source: Business Week). That 57% of turnaround causes are merger related (Stats: Deloitte) is also not news.

Why is it that time after time, the energy and enthusiasm that infused the new vision evaporates as it is communicated to the employees? The messages of growing, supporting and empowering staff go unheard by sceptical individuals who feel uprooted, isolated and out of control of their personal career plans.  It is these personal anxieties and frustrations that can overwhelm and lead to emotional blocking, that manifests in:

  • Reluctance to change 
  • Resentment at lack of control 
  • Resistance to new ideas

Hence it is the people issues, such as a lack of programme leadership, loss of focus on everyday operations, too much time spent on company politics and merger synergies not driven through quickly enough (Source:Deloitte) that are the major cause of failure in merged companies.

Managing the Change

Following a merger, shareholder value will be achieved through inspirational leadership and the development of an empowered and enthusiastic workforce. Gaining employee trust is vital from the outset, in order to create new teams and overcome the mutual suspicion held by each organisation around the acquisition and which of them is dominant. The sooner new relationships and successful teams can be forged, the sooner the organisation will come together as a cohesive business unit. 

Business transformation can only take place if employees choose to work within the new organisational structure and collaborate with colleagues to achieve a unified purpose. In order to do this management needs to provide the environment, opportunities and incentives for high performance teams to develop. Their priorities should be focused on providing leadership and facilitating rapid team building.

High Performance Teams

Established high performance teams typically work with confidence, enthusiasm and self-motivation and often outpace the expectations of management. They require an environment that promotes, or at least, facilitates creativity and lateral thinking. An empowering management style, that provides freedom to act and implement, is essential.

Relationship Flow


However, in the early days of a merger key targets should have been clearly identified, along with the routes to achieve them.  In this situation it is more important to build new meaningful relationships, blend the cultures and structure alternative ways of working to influence bonding and so, increase the pace of integration.


Relationships are the foundation of a successful team. All members of that team must develop an awareness of themselves and other team members in order to understand individual skills, ambitions and motivation.

In high performance teams all members need to feel a sense of:

- purpose                                               -    value

- individuality                                          -    control

- belonging                                            -    capability

These can only be achieved when every member recognises the worth of both their own and everyone else’s contribution. Team building activity must draw out these characteristics to encourage rapport, trust and interdependent behaviour. The ensuing growth in confidence will replace individual reluctance, resistance and rejection with a new sense of team-ship.


 Each team member must understand the role they will play, their own strengths and weaknesses and how these contribute to the team outputs.

Team members work together most effectively when given the opportunity to eliminate emotional barriers. It is these barriers which create a fear of rejection, ridicule or exploitation when sharing their ideas. As the barriers are removed the team will work in harmony to support each other’s underlying mind-sets and ambitions, thus allowing open communication and releasing creativity, enthusiasm, passion and energy. 


As the team develops greater mutual trust and rapport, they will be prepared to explore the art of the possible rather than just meet a management goal.

Enabling teams to brainstorm and develop their own identity, structure and communications puts them back in the driving seat and will make them feel more aligned towards the company's vision and mission.

In addition, brainstorming generates enthusiasm, energy and commitment as team members feel their ideas are valued and incorporated within the overall plan. This in turn creates ownership and self-motivation, both critical to the accomplishment of individual tasks and overall goals.

It is important that the team have an opportunity to make changes in their working environment to support the way they choose to work and collaborate with each other.


High performance teams thrive on new challenges. They seek to apply their creativity and lateral thinking to every task in an attempt to push the boundaries of what they can achieve.

In newly merged companies the goals are necessarily communicated ‘top down’ but as the team blend together and the integration fuses the new organisation a more open managerial style will help the team grow confident in their ability to make decisions that drive and support peak operating performance.

In the early stages it is important to track and acknowledge milestone achievements. When the team has become fully established they should monitor and motivate their own progress.


By fostering high performance teams that share the Board’s vision, the excitement of pre-merger planning can be re-activated again and again throughout the organisation. This approach fosters participation, collaboration and responsibility. The teams will not only set goals that outstrip management expectations, but will develop a sense of community and pride in the organisation.

Rapid team-building programmes are most effective when they are aligned with the business objectives and regularly monitored throughout implementation.

For information on how to develop High Performance Teams please contact Sue McCauley

USP Business Development - impact training

Rigorous and demanding Team-Building programmes for outstanding performance



Home | Services | About | Profiles | Information | Contact Us | Clients and Contacts | Executive Leadership Training | Site Map