When a large pharmaceutical company acquired a smaller start-up company in the medical device space, the culture integration proved to be the most difficult obstacle of the acquisition. Employees at the start-up, thrived in an entrepreneurial culture with little oversight and standardization. The pharmaceutical company had a long tradition of hierarchical leadership and best practices that needed to be incorporated for the company to thrive.
Having acquired several companies in the past, the pharmaceutical company simply instituted the same practices they had used before with other organizations and it failed miserably. With an incredibly high turnover rate, low engagement results and a culture of anger, the company changed directions and wanted to implement a change management strategy to merge the cultures together and turn the acquisition into a high-performing division.
To accomplish these goals, the company realized they were not going to be able to deliver the standard culture integration approach they had used in previous acquisitions. In fact, that had already backfired. Instead, we created a culture integration and change management strategy to bridge both companies together.
By using the two company’s values, we created a new set of values that aligned with both – giving employees of both companies a clear path to what they had valued in the past, and what would be important going forward. Creating the values was the first step; a robust communications plan using various channels and mediums was integral to the integration’s success.
At the same time, the HR organization was going through a redesign in structure and duties – going from a transactional HR department to transformational HR partners: changing the way employees and leaders interacted with HR and how they managed daily HR activities. While changing both the culture and their HR structure at the same time was difficult, it did allow for some immediate results.
– Brenda M., SVP, Human Resources
The first step to integrating the two companies cultures, was to create a bridged version of the values – allowing for all employees to relate to values that were important to them. After the new values were created, we created a robust communications plan that focused on rolling out the information by their leaders – instead of coming from corporate.
Each senior leader was partnered with a HR business partner, to create an individualized communications plan to rollout the new culture to their organization. We created a standard communications toolkit for all HR partners to use as their baseline, and then worked closely with each leader to ensure their specific organizational needs were being met.
By changing the culture and HR’s responsibilities at the same time, it provided an unique opportunity to allow HR to immediately create new value with each of their leaders. Instead of being asked to process address changes, HR was designing culture rollout plans and partnering with their leaders to deliver the change management strategy.
Through this partnership, HR was instantly recognized as having new strategic capabilities and any questions around the value of the new HR organization, were left unasked – as each business partner proved their worth through the culture rollout. HR was also able to use the goodwill they created during this change, to continue to provide strategic value and leverage their time more efficiently going forward.
By creating a tactical and strategic change management plan and communications, bettHR delivered:
Leaders across the organization felt a part of the culture changes, not as though they were being thrust upon them by “corporate.” Instead, they felt ownership about the new company and was leading the culture changes from the front – bringing their employees along on the journey without issue or struggle. It no longer felt like their organization was being taken over, instead it felt like they were creating the next iteration.
By collaborating with leaders, employees stayed – they no longer saw the big pharmaceutical company as a threat, and wanted to continue working on their projects with more resources. The spend for retention bonuses decreased significantly and employees expressed a connection with the company.
With HR immediately adding strategic value, there was little resistance from the organization about the new transformational structure of HR. Instead, leaders were actively seeking out new ways to leverage the redesigned HR organization for the first time – allowing for more partnerships and results, than ever before.
– Shane F., VP, Marketing
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