Good Company Inc. is a firm in a small Midwestern American town that provides payroll, tax, insurance and reporting support services to large companies. Most of the employees have been working for the company for ten years or more, and they consider their work teams and colleagues as family. The company has been the major provider of jobs in this small community. The average educational attainment of workers in this company is a two year diploma or Associate degree. In recent years recruitment has become more difficult as younger persons leave to get an education and do not return to the community.
The average worker does not have strong technology skills, and while they are very good at their specialized jobs, they are not very aware of the bigger picture and redesign of the work could be problematic as they have performed their duties in the same way for a very long time. Performance is measured by compliance with a checklist for each position.
Processes are designed by senior leadership, and each employee specializes in a small aspect of carrying out the overall process. There is a strong chain of command orientation and management is largely transactional.
Good Company Inc. will be merging with The Other Guys PLC, a British company based in London, England. The Other Guys PLC is a fairly new company that has innovated many of the support processes provided by Good Company Inc. through the use of technology and outsourcing. Most of the employees are young, highly skilled in modern technology and lean management. Each work area determines their own process to achieve the identified objectives, and continuous improvement is an important part of their organizational culture.
There is little structure around chains of command. Leadership is largely transformational, and consists of transmitting the vision to employees who have broad mandates to fill around that vision. High technology companies such as Google provided the template for the company’s approach, and therefore the work conditions reflect a casual approach in terms of dressing for work and how the days are spent. There are however high expectations around performance, and innovation is expected and encouraged. With the company based in London, England the employees are mostly urban residents. There is a large pool for recruiting, and the staff has varied backgrounds representing multiple nations and cultures as well as education disciplines.
The upcoming merger between the two companies will provide benefits to both companies if it is successful, but unifying the organizational culture will be challenging. The British company will benefit from the established reputation of Good Company Inc. as well as expansion into the American market, and the American company will benefit from the more modern and innovative approach of The Other Guys PLC.
The first step to unifying the cultures will be to introduce each of the companies, how they work, and why. Understanding the differences in approach to work will be the beginning of building awareness of the challenge for employees so that their expectations of the merger are aligned with the reality.
The second step will be to look at work structuring and positions. This may cause fear for many employees, who may worry about taking on new roles or worse being laid off. It must therefore be approached carefully, with some consideration as to how excess human resources will be dealt with.
When the new structure and positions are clearer it is more apparent how the company will work into the future, and this is necessary for the third step- forming a new work culture for the post-merger firm.
For the fourth step it would be ideal to have a social event or other ability for employees of both companies to interact informally. Because of the distance and inconvenience this would involve, introductions by video conference are preferred.
The fifth step would be to have a workshop where each company’s employees reflected on what they valued in the organizational culture, and how they could present and share this with the other company.
A sixth step would require a review of policies and expectations in a post-merger company, with a plan regarding the updating or development of new policies as well as communicating them to the employees.
The seventh step would be to ensure that employees are supported through these changes. This would include techniques such as recognizing employee contributions in the transition, but also providing counselling and other supports.
The eighth step would be to have an open dialogue regarding the transition of organizational culture in the merger. This would include regular events, and a working group which includes members from each of the pre-merger companies.