You’ve decided to grow your business and buy another company. The deal has been thoroughly vetted, the lawyers have spoken, the details are worked out and the ink is finally dry on the contract. Relieved that the hard part is over? Not so fast.
Now the hard part really begins. You have two separate offices, one with the corporate culture and deeply enmeshed sense of teamwork that you’ve worked so hard to create, and another with a completely different corporate culture. Both teams are wary of the transition period and of the upcoming changes that are sure to be made. Now what?
Not getting your current team up and running with the new additions can absolutely affect your bottom line, so it’s important to make sure that you and your managers are prepared to handle the transition period. You need to have a process in place to welcome your new employees without alienating your current employees, as well as a plan to begin merging the team without everyone feeling that their boundaries have been crossed. Sound overwhelming? Without proper preparation, it can be.
What steps do you need to take to turn two teams into one smoothly running organization?
1. Plan ahead.
The first decision is always the most important; will you keep these teams separate, or will you merge them into one large team? After you decide, review your corporate culture and the culture of the organization you are absorbing. Isolate where the similarities are to play off those strengths. Identify what will need to be modified or completely changed and make sure you have steps in place for each line item.
2. Update your employee handbook.
Anything that changes needs to be updated in your employee handbook before the changes to each team are rolled out. Everything from clocking in and out, to 401K changes, to PTO updates needs to be included. Make sure that changes are clearly marked so that your new employees don’t feel as if you’re hiding anything from them.
3. Meet with your new team.
Have a meeting with the new employees to go over any changes that are happening. Make sure to keep everyone in the loop so that the new employees don’t feel isolated or ignored. Make sure to let them know what will be expected of them.
4. Plan a kickoff meeting.
Arrange for the two teams to meet in a comfortable setting, and make sure to have a few things planned to help break the ice and get people talking. Plan a few team-building activities and make sure to assign partners from each team. Once everyone is comfortable, talk about the changes that are taking place and what each office location can expect.
5. Be flexible.
Make sure that you check in periodically to take the office temperature, so to speak. Ask for feedback from your new employees using an anonymous survey method, but make sure they understand that while all their suggestions will be considered, they may not necessarily be implemented.
Remember, this is an important time for both teams. If you’re merging your teams into one office, arrange for plenty of team-building time, from group lunches to friendly office competitions. Keep the conversation going and make sure to lead by example by staying positive and upbeat no matter what happens.
Small business expert Rob Basso is the founder of BassoOnBusiness.com, a web-based community dedicated to inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit and getting American businesses back on their feet. He is the president and owner of Advantage Payroll Services, the region’s largest independently owned payroll provider, and the author of The Everyday Entrepreneur. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to purchase your copy of The Everyday Entrepreneur today!