• Merging two businesses is often quite painful.
• So, how DO you tackle it?
• Find out how Zoe Kelleher knitted two very different cultures together at Webcredible and Inviqa
“People don’t like having other people take their role and space. They get very comfortable and used to what they’re doing. Any kind of change and their backs are against the wall – they’re sceptical of someone else coming in and taking over,” says Zoe Kelleher, client success director at Inviqa.
When Zoe’s former agency, Webcredible, was acquired by Inviqa, it was very much NOT kumbaya from day one. There were significant differences in company culture that caused painful friction.
“It takes a long time in understanding both cultures. In an acquisition process, it’s about due diligence, finances, leadership – but the culture is so important,” says Zoe. “A lot of people were at Webcredible because of the culture as much as for the kind of work we do.”
“It probably took two years before it even started to feel that we were one company. There are overlaps of roles to an extent, and the roles within both companies weren’t understood well enough. I think there were still a lot of people fighting their corners, and it became a bit territorial,” she says.
There wasn’t anything in place to tackle this, and so Zoe took it upon herself to solve the culture conundrum.
“I did a road trip of all the offices and met everybody in the whole company,” she says. “I ran workshops in each office around what works and doesn’t to build on the good stuff and try and solve the bad stuff.”
“From there, we worked out what behaviours to really try and embed within the company over the following 12 months.”
Zoe also started some culture-driven initiatives around wellbeing to gauge the temperature on the acquisition and integration of the two companies.
“I think the thing I would have done in hindsight is really throw time and money into getting people together to really understand each other, their disciplines, their processes, and actually just start to build relationships,” she admits.
We’ll be talking to Zoe about the things to bear in mind when merging businesses, including:
- Making an effort to understand the acquirer’s vision for the company.
- Finding sufficient time for relationship building.
- Planning, planning and planning some more.