The acquisition presents a variety of complications from a business and cultural standpoint. Often, employees are left unaware of what is happening behind the scenes until the purchase is final. This type of announcement typically comes as an unwelcome surprise. Tension can result as both agencies struggle to figure out how they will adapt and work together in the future.
As challenging as this process can be from research through onboarding, here are tips agencies can use to bring another agency into their operations.
Speak to Individuals –
When acquisitions, owners, and managers should expect some level of concern from employees on both agencies. Whether employees are being acquired or trying to figure out how it will look to have a whole agency become part of the organization, there is likely to be some stress and anxiety.
However, concerns are rarely unanimous. Some employees may not have any worries at all. There may be some commonalities for those expressing some anxiety or having a hard time adjusting, but the struggles will be unique to the individual. Sitting down with each person one on one is the best way to identify and talk through their struggles and discuss any hesitation they may feel about the changes. Whether it’s work hours, salary, coworkers, or agency culture, addressing those things on an individual basis will help create a safe space for the employee to share their feelings and find solutions.
Schedule Team Building Activities –
In most acquisitions, all (or most) employees from one agency join another. Often, it requires two groups of strangers to start working together in a concise time frame. Employees accustomed to a specific culture, a particular way of doing things, and a team they have been working with suddenly need to merge worlds. This transition can be unsettling even from the outside looking in. Culture, process, and communication difficulties can plague the process and make it difficult for two teams to start operating as a single organization.
While some components of this will take time to overcome, bringing teams together in fun and safe ways can be a great way to break the ice between them. Survey each team member for ideas on activities everyone can do outside of work. These are great opportunities for them to get to know one another and establish common ground in a neutral, low-pressure situation. Once they are relaxed, they are more likely to start building a foundation for healthy relationships they can transfer over to work.
Analyze the Process & Adjust –
No acquisition will ever go perfectly from start to finish, and each will have its own unique set of hurdles to overcome. However, agencies can always improve the process.
When acquisitions occur, leadership must be willing to take a step back and look at it from start to finish, evaluate what went well, and what needs to change for the next time. Soliciting feedback from those involved and impacted is an essential part of understanding each facet of the process and making necessary adjustments for the next time. Creating a checklist that can be reviewed and modified for future reference can help keep everyone involved on the same page.
Merging two agencies can be challenging from all perspectives of the agency operation. Using these tips will help agencies improve and reduce bumps in the road each time.
For more on this topic, listen to the full episode of The Independent Agent below.