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4 Essential Principles for Successful Integration with a Focus on Internal Communication

by on May 3, 2013

Change Ahead

Okay, so you’ve decided to go ahead with this strategic transaction you’ve been contemplating.  Either it’s close to closing or you’ve already closed.  Now what?

Now you need to focus on integration.  Successful strategic transactions, whether they are mergers, acquisitions, investments, joint ventures or alliances, are a direct result of successful integration efforts. Each integration plan must address the following four basic principles:

  1. Accountability—individuals must be made accountable to oversee and direct the integration effort;
  2. Specific action steps must be created—a specific time frame for completion of integration must be created and followed;
  3. Communication—internal and external procedures and processes must be addressed; and
  4. Measuring success—for each strategic transaction the company should establish benchmarks of performance with provisions for evaluation, control and corrective action.

Okay, as the CEO you get it.  But you’re saying, “Fine, that sounds good but what does it mean?  Can you tell me something definitive? Can you tell me something to help implement these points?”

Yes, I can.  Let’s focus on Communication, specifically Internal Communications, which has a significantly different focus than External Communications.

Internal Communications: Key points to focus on:

  • Morale is important. Find out and verify what employees are most concerned about – executives visiting sites or satellite offices of the Target as well as your own company should be fully informed on the issues and concerns of key people and the rest of the workforce. Set up an anonymous email or link on the company’s intranet for questions/concerns.
  • Assign a communications coordinator. This person will be responsible for taking all questions and comments to the transition/integration team.
  • Focus on key employee retention – Compensation/reward program for key employees:
    • stay-on bonuses
    • salary adjustments
    • stock option incentives
    • growth opportunities
  • Collaborate with Target’s management to complete employee mapping, finding proper positions for everyone staying on after the deal if this is an acquisition.

It may not be possible to provide definitive answers to every person’s questions because the details may not be settled. Strive to provide the details as quickly as possible, however in the meantime, do not hold back on communication. You need to provide regular, frequent communication with content centering on the fair process management (explained below) in undertaking to answer questions about the core integration team, its task force process, its timelines, and the expected deliverables.

Fair Process Management guiding principles

  • Engage the people involved or potentially affected by asking for their input and allowing them to debate the validity of the ideas and assumptions forming the decision.
  • Offer explanations so that everyone affected by a decision actually understands not only what is going on and why it is going on but also the steps, roles, and responsibilities leading to the decision, as well as the rationale that underlies the specific outcomes.
  • Be clear about expectations so that the decision can be carried out and its implications can be discussed openly and honestly.

Integration Reporting/Communication: It’s important to send out a weekly update on the status and progress of integration.

  • Perspectives of Exec Staff
  • Interview middle managers, lower level employees, and customers
  • Report on the progress of the integration
  • Provide information to the workforce about the status of efforts to resolve their “me” issues.

Here’s an example of an initial Integration Update

Company Alert: An electronic news service for employees. Updated weekly or more frequently as news becomes available.  This is sent from the designated Communications Coordinator.

“HELLO! You and I will be getting to know each other in the coming weeks. First of all you need to know that I will be communicating to you openly, frequently, and candidly about changes under way at our company.

I’ll be giving you information as early as I can – information you need to make better decisions. I’ll tell you what I know about any aspect of the integration effort. And if I don’t know, I’ll say that and get back to you as soon as I can. I’ll tell you the good news and the bad. I’ll help you tell the difference between rumor and truth.

I won’t promise that you will always be satisfied with what I have to say, but I am committed to talking to you plainly, without any corporate doublespeak. In short, I’ll treat you with respect and honesty.

You are free to contact me with questions or issues. I’ll do my best to get them addressed and answered.”


If you want to learn how your company can connect with your employees so your team is aligned so that your revenues can grow rapidly, contact me for a quick chat about the Valuation Amplification Process.

I also invite you to download the free white paper and find out How to Quickly Increase Your Valuation: A Proven 5 Step Process.


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One Comment
  1. Ellie Hendershot permalink

    Mike, You have clearly discussed issues that many employees have when the climate around them is changing. Good thinking. Ellie

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