How to Handle Business Mergers

Business mergers can help two companies to keep trading when times are tough. Sharing skills and resources whilst losing the worst aspects of both companies can make for a stronger organisation, better suited to the current economy. Over the years many companies add departments that become obsolete and start to lose money in one way or another a merger can force cutbacks and, although its one of the most difficult processes a manager will ever have to handle, it can save the business from going under.

One of the most important aspects of any business merger is very hard to describe as it will differ from place to place. This is how to merge the working cultures of two organisations into one. Imagine one business that has primarily skilled, older workers who work nine to five and do very little overtime. Another organisation has primarily young, enthusiastic trainees who put many hours in during the week and have regular staff nights out and activity days. It may seem easy merging numbers on a bit of paper, but you have to merge these two working cultures into something that makes sense for everyone involved.

Often compromises have to be made. For example, senior members of one company may not be best suited to sit on the new board, but office politics dictate that they have to be represented. You might need to keep certain employees that given the choice you wouldnt.

It is also very difficult, especially if you work for one of the two companies, to keep morale in both places high as the merger is taking place. Inevitably new roles will be created and some jobs will be lost. People will have new colleagues and find that their old ones, who they have formed friendships with, no longer work with them. A good manager can navigate these difficulties but sometimes its hard not to get involved in petty squabbles over territory that often break out.

The best tip for handling mergers is to choose the best people to oversee it. People that understand their company inside out, who know which people would be best suited for the new roles, and who arent afraid to make tough decisions and to make them quickly. You cant pretend to know each of your workers and the workers in the other company but managers should know their sections well. Use their knowledge and make sure you carry out your decisions in a tough but sympathetic manner. If you can navigate the merger quickly the business will be set up in its new format quickly, meaning people can start to understand their new place and get on with their jobs. Being in limbo lowers morale and loses your business money each day it continues.

Bert Steiner has worked in manufacturing for many years, making everything from guttering to insulation. He has owned several small businesses and likes to write about business management.

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