Blog 7B. Mergers and Split-Ups

 

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[This continues the discussion from Blog 7A.]

When conflicts between people in a merger affect key members, the conflicts should be resolved quickly. Explore critical details. Explore the old beliefs, the new ones, and the new culture and structure of the merged companies. Explore the personalities in the clash. Will the people change perspectives? Can they be inspired to change? to experiment? to try for six months an approach a neutral party suggests and then decide?

The Palo Alto Red Cross chapter merged with the San Jose chapter to become the Silicon Valley chapter. Palo Alto’s volunteers, retired CEOs, were always asked by staff if they’d handle a problem. The volunteers decided what to do and did the job, getting wherewithal from staff.

At San Jose, staff made decisions, did the work, and told the volunteers ( all blue-collar) how to help.

The executive director for the new Silicon Valley chapter and members from the former Boards sought the best from each chapter A senior staff member from San Jose couldn’t imagine volunteers handling problems. Volunteers from Palo Alto didn’t want staff telling them how to do what they were experts at. Using tools of consciousness, I suggested the volunteers work with the staff person if he’d try a different approach for six months? Yes.

Would the staff person experiment, and for six months let these volunteers do what was needed but keep the staff member informed hour by hour? Yes.

After three months, both sides were happy with the method and made it the new chapter’s standard operating procedure.

I ignored something critical. Because I did not suggest a meeting like Lencioni recommended, volunteers from San Jose took a year to work through the change and many left.


Split-ups generate conflict the instant they’re announced. Executives, managers, and staff worry about who will be fired and who will be kept, what the new companies will be like, whether the split will succeed, who will lead, and how the original clients and the public will react.

The different worries affect creativity and productivity. Fear makes neuron groups called the amygdala, to shut down the parts of the brain for creativity. The only part of the thinking brain that is active is the one that merely reacts, activating “fight or flight” responses.

Ralph Stacey pointed out the complex problems and uncertain outcome of split ups. He believes people look creatively and in detail at the complexity. Be creative when the amygdala has shut off so much of the cortex? Meetings like those of a merger help.

 

 

Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of pixabay.com

Contact me at 650-762-6755 or pieterk@post.harvard.edu for more information or to start a conversation. 

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238

 

 

 

Blog 7A.  Mergers and Split-Ups

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A “belief” is something you’re comfortable with. Mergers make beliefs change. The company’s culture changes because there are new people.

In a merger, the new beliefs give everyone a conflict within themselves: everyone from the top to the bottom of the new company. Often people in the new company also have conflicts with each other.

People must discuss both conflicts, the internal and those with others. The listener may be a colleague, a mentor, an adviser, or a psychologist. Most companies pay for people at the top to do this. Everyone needs to do it, but there isn’t money for everyone.

An open meeting can help the staff for whom there aren’t funds, as Patrick Lencioni described in Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars.

A facilitator chairs the meeting. All staff attend. Executives and managers attend and listen but don’t speak.

The staff vents fears, frustrations, and suggestions until all have vented and are satisfied they were heard. The facilitator declares breaks. During breaks the facilitator discusses privately, with the executives and senior managers, the major points that were just aired.

After each break, the facilitator tells everyone that the executive team will handle the concerns just raised; by when, and, as much as possible, what each outcome is likely to be.

[The discussion will be continued in Blog 7B.]

Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of pixabay.com

Contact me at 650-762-6755 or pieterk@post.harvard.edu for more information or to start a conversation.

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238

 

Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of pixabay.com

 

Contact me at 650-762-6755 or pieterk@post.harvard.edu for more information or to start a conversation.

 

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238