Survey claims mum managers can doom a merger before it takes hold

TORONTO: Corporate communications are a key factor in the success

rate of mergers and acquisitions, say the unsurprising results of a

study conducted last month by de Jager & Co.

The study surveyed 280 managers whose company had undergone a merger or

acquisition in the past two years. Respondents said a consistent change

management strategy involving concise and frequent communications

between management and staff can improve a company's chances of forming

a single corporate culture - a key to any successful merger.

According to the study, when managers personally inform their staff of a

pending merger or acquisition, the company is two to three times more

likely to experience a successful transition than companies at which

employees learn about the change through the media or rumors.

Peter de Jager, president of de Jager & Co., said companies and their

communications consultants should be on the lookout for simple mistakes

that can keep employees from embracing a merger or acquisition.

"For example, Air Canada has acquired Canadian Air, yet at our airport

here in Toronto, there is a separate lounge for each airline's pilots

with a wall between them," said de Jager. "In a merger, you need to

bring people together, not leave literal walls between them. It's a

simple example, but it speaks a great deal about the types of activities

and mistakes that are going on."

De Jager recommends holding staff meetings or information sessions at

each junction of a merger or acquisition, beginning before the deal is

in the news and culminating in joint meetings with merged staffs once it

is complete.

"Change boils down to one thing: good communications," de Jager said.

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