Forming Cohesive Teams Following a Merger or Acquisition

Forming Cohesive Teams Following a Merger or Acquisition

Aug 22, 2018
  • Author:
    Kay Lynn Akers, CPCS
    Former VerityStream Employee
    With over 30 years of health care experience, Kay Lynn Akers brings direct insights into the challenges of the evolving industry. During her tenure at VerityStream, she has provided clients with consulting and services to assist in deploying new solutions, identifying process improvements using solution best practices and designing solutions to meet the needs of organizations across the industry. Her healthcare contact center and care provider background establishes her record of shaping solutions for clients with projects ranging from optimizing processes and software for maximum efficiency and service to supporting large consolidations.

The VerityStream Consulting Team recently gathered at one of our offices for a retreat. Looking around the room towards the end of our meeting, I was struck by the strength and unity of the team.

Three years ago, we were competitors at three different companies until acquisition by HealthStream brought us together and new work teams were formed. It reminded me of what many of you have experienced at your health care organizations. Acquisitions and mergers in the health care industry had a record breaking year of activity in 2017 and 2018 is proving to be just as busy so far with $156 billion in deals according to Bloomberg.

Use the strategies below to build cohesiveness within the new teams.

Unite Around a Common Goal. Bring the team together by focusing on a common assignment or goal. At HealthStream all teams have quarterly goals and we succeed, or fail, as a team. Since there is a reward for achieving them everyone rallies together to complete the goals successfully. Find something your team can work on together and tie a reward to it, big or small.

Clear Communication. New team members might not pick up on different communication styles of new-to-them team members and leaders. Check to make sure everyone got important messages and have the same understanding as the sender.

Direct communication is especially important early on. Bring the team together whenever possible enabling team members to get to know one another personally as well as professionally.

Acknowledge Pain Points. A merger or acquisition can result in changes that are painful for employees. Whether it is a change in reporting relationship, loss of benefits or just the pain of the change that’s bothering team members don’t ignore it. Acknowledge their feelings so the team members feel heard and can shift their focus.

Play to Individual Strengths. Although the team should share some core skills and knowledge, every member brings unique strengths. Find them and don’t be afraid to assign people individual roles so they can flourish and move the team forward.

Develop Processes Together. Unless both organizations performed all work exactly the same, processes and procedures are going to have to change. Use the opportunity to build the team cohesiveness by doing it together. Utilizing what each organization has developed already will lead to an even better process.

With time and work you can build an even stronger team than before your merger or acquisition; no outdoor team building exercises required.