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Wiley & Mathews

How to talk to your employees about a merger

Mergers and acquisitions happen in business all the time -- and are often a sign of growth. But, any kind of merger or acquisition involving a business tends to feel inherently unstable to the employees involved.

If you want your company's merger to go as smoothly as possible, you need to be prepared for the following emotional reactions from your crew:

1. Anger

Anger is really sort of an aggressive state of fear. Your employees may be scared about their positions and their futures and feel betrayed that the company they've worked so hard to develop has suddenly, in essence, ceased to exist.

You can alleviate a lot of the fear (and, thus, the anger) your employees feel by communicating as clearly as possible about the upcoming changes and what they can expect. If your employees feel like you're "holding out" on them and keeping information secret, they may reach rashly. That can lead to your most important people suddenly leaving in a huff or a rapid decrease in productivity.

2. Selfishness

For some employees, a merger sounds an alarm and they automatically react as if it's suddenly every person for themselves. That can destroy your team's dynamics and cripple the company from within. It can also make integrating the two different companies effectively impossible.

To combat this, you need to work hard to build relationships within your team that will keep people from automatically putting their own concerns first. Foster strong personal relationships by spending some time with your employees outside of the office, showing interest in their lives and offering your support whenever possible.

You can handle all of the "soft" aspects of a business merger with a little compassion, insight and advance planning. For everything else, make sure that you have an experienced attorney's assistance.

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