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HOW TO Successfully Combine Cultures During a Merger or Acquisition

HOW TO Successfully Combine Cultures During a Merger or Acquisition

This is a guest article by Tara Powers, CEO, Powers Resource Center

What makes for a successful integration of a company’s #1 asset – TALENT

Without the cohesiveness and buy-in from employee stakeholders, the likelihood of a smooth transition is small. The key to reduce employee discontent, turnover, and a poisoning of company culture is a successful integration of the existing cultures.

According to Statista 2021, in the past year, there were 583 M&A transactions valued at more than one billion U.S. dollars. The overall number of M&A deals in the 12 months ending June 30, 2021 was up about 25 percent. While this trend may appear to be a sign of strengthening corporate assets, efficient operations, and a synergy of talent, in truth, it can lead to disaster.

Tara Powers, CEO of Powers Resource Center (PRC) offers important advice for leaders guiding companies through a merger or acquisition…evaluate, anticipate and communicate.  Powers says an honest, open evaluation of current company culture and an acknowledgement of the fear and loss associated with the dissolution of the old company is real and invaluable.

EvaluateWhat is the current state of employee morale? What are the real pain points and fears about stepping into the new company? What are the underlying resentments or challenges that team members are afraid to voice? Understanding the motivation for holding on to the best of the “old way” of doing things is important.  

AnticipateWhat are the anticipated challenges of this transition? Are people afraid of losing their jobs? Are employees worried about the new management style? Interviews, focus groups, and engagement of project teams are some ways to involve team members and ensure they feel heard and valued.

Communicate: How can we be heard? Visible, open engagement from leaders of both companies is critical. Presence and accessibility by leadership is key. Communication should happen MORE than seems necessary to help move people from a space of being confused or anxious to exploring the benefits of forming a new culture together. The expressed mentality of “we are all in this together” will be evident if management is actively involved in the building of new teams and the forging of a new company. Authentic and open invitations for keeping conversations going is critical.

Think about Amazon’s absorption of Whole Foods. Combining the world’s most powerful retailer with arguably the biggest name in grocery sales bumped and bruised its way to success. Integrating Amazon’s online-only presence with Whole Foods personal, tangible consumer shopping experience took some time to reconcile. Team members were hesitant to lose their more localized autonomy of operations to the management of the world’s largest company. Conversely, other mergers such as Disney and Pixar, and Sirius and XM Radio have been hailed as resounding success stories, almost at the onset.

By evaluating the past and having an open dialogue for the future, company leadership is poised for success. It’s best not to ignore culture differences, rather embrace the unique perspectives and how they can be brought to light under the spotlight of the new, more robust and enlightened company. A successful integration will leverage the best of what companies have to offer. A stronger, healthier work environment will ultimately lead to the success of the new company, benefiting everyone.

This is where PRC can help. As talent development experts, PRC is equipped to objectively evaluate your company and assess where it is today. By engaging your teams and leaders in key conversations, PRC can provide facilitation and the tools appropriate for building a cohesive go-forward strategy. If you are considering an acquisition or merger, take steps today to put a strong foundation in place for building a healthy culture. PRC can develop a customizable solution that incorporates proven diagnostic and assessment tools, customized communication plans and team building strategies that will blend seemingly divergent paths into a productive, positive work environment. Contact us TODAY! 


Tara Powers, MS, is the founder and CEO of Powers Resource Center and an award-winning leadership expert, sought after speaker, experienced talent development consultant and crusader against boring, ineffective employee engagement and leadership training.  Her success with Fortune 500 companies has taught her how to achieve the results company execs want and still make sure the attendees have fun in the process. With award-winning programs and workshops, Tara helps conscious companies build cohesive teams and engaging leaders every day. Find out more at

Tara Powers

Want more tips from Tara Powers?

See all courses currently available from Powers Resource Center and find out how her team can help you create a culture of connection by developing engaged, emotionally intelligent leaders and truly cohesive teams.

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Last updated: 15 Oct 2021

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