Over the last handful of organizational mergers and takeovers, I have been through, have noticed a specific pattern. It involves people from one part of the merged entity passing opinions or making general assertions about the teams from the other entity. Of late I have been thinking about it a little.
Most M&As are complex activities requiring many man years of planning and execution. However the people side of the story, to get individuals from both companies thinking as one, is a more elusive goal.
Some causes as I see it, in no particular order are:
i) Distrust of the unknown
Trust is the result of interactions that reinforce positive assumptions. Without any interactions it becomes impossible to trust anything.
ii) Changing Power Alignments
Every organizational change comes with associated changes to power structures. Like it or not, these are a very big and critical aspect of any functioning large organization. Any impending change makes the existing set of people go into a sort of hibernation, waiting and watching before they do anything significant.
iii) Unclear Role in Future
At a personal level, people are not comfortable with functioning in a situation filled with ambiguity. This lack of role clarity in near future, makes people freeze up in the present.
iv) Gossip as social bonding
Gossip is key communication channel for a lot of unspoken concerns. This inane communication, like teens hanging around at street corners, serves a social function by helping people bond together.
This could be a very common occurrence but I thought it best to share my thoughts and learn from your experiences.
The way I have dealt with these factors in the past is to focus on doing what I do and to do it well.
I have noticed that events around us remain mostly favorable if one is competent and dedicated to the task on hand.