Building an Effective Internal Communication Plan for M&A

Internal communication is crucial inside your organization, especially for new acquisitions that will join your company. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and everyone should feel that they are a part of the organization. Helping us build an effective internal communication plan for M&A is Briana Elkington, Program Manager at VSP Global. 

“No one's going to listen to anyone from the company that's acquiring, as much as someone within their own company.” - Briana Elkington 

Use templates

When creating a communication plan for your organization, it’s best if you use templates. It will help you save time and ensure consistent messaging, even on previous and future acquisitions. 

You also need to communicate the integration milestones. Employees need to know what will change for them and what is not during the transition—plan to communicate before and after milestones using different forms of communications. Not everyone uses similar tools for communication, so you need to be prepared. 

Have one person or team within your organization to coordinate all internal communications for the acquired companies. It will help make your messages have a consistent feel and not be repetitive. Overwhelming employees with too many inconsistencies can scare people and leave the company. 

More importantly, do not change your templates because of one negative feedback. There will always be employees who will have a negative outlook on the entire deal. Make sure you use data and consistent results before you change anything in your templates. 

Customized messaging

After you have your templates, you need to develop customized messaging for that particular transaction. Develop a communication plan for individual integration by understanding how integration changes will impact employees in that specific acquisition. It will help you anticipate where differences could cause issues at specific integration milestones. 

Also, set up a discovery meeting with the acquired company as soon as possible. It will help you build relationships with key individuals who can champion your changes inside the acquired company and keep a positive vibe in the overall transition.

Negative employees

There’s always going to be employees who have a negative outlook about the whole transaction in any acquisition. The worst thing you can do is ignore them and give them something to worry about. If they have a concern, recognize that they have a valid concern and look into it. Building trust with every employee is key. 

Also, messages can have a more significant impact if it comes from someone in their company. This is where building relationships with key people will come in handy. They can urge a more positive outlook on the acquisition because people already trust them. 

Supplier Onboarding

Supplier Onboarding is one of the hardest parts of an acquisition. Onboarding a supplier takes a long time, companies don’t have good supplier data, and suppliers don’t always cooperate with someone they don’t know. 

It is best if the business owner is the one who reaches out to the suppliers and let them know that change is happening and they need to go through the supplier onboarding process in the first place. 

After you export the supplier’s database from the acquired company, make sure you filter it and compare it to your existing suppliers to avoid duplicates. From the new supplier list, filter the ones you intend to keep before starting the onboarding process. 

Conclusion

Having a good internal communication plan can help you retain suppliers and employees. The key is to be consistent with your messaging to gain more trust. If your messaging varies from one function to another, this can cause friction and might drive employees and suppliers away.

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