Elizabeth Arnott, SPHR
Using the Principles of Community Engagement to Integrate Newly Acquired Teams
For company leaders, integrating new people into already established teams can be difficult even in the best of circumstances. But with some careful thought and planning, you can use the principles of community engagement to successfully on-board and incorporate the new teams into your organization.
Here's a brief overview:
1. Prepare and Plan for Acquisition.
Of course, preparation and planning are key to on-boarding and integrating a newly acquired team. Some of the areas you will want to research: culture of acquired org; turnover data; common employee issues or complaints; common areas of satisfaction for employees; and job titles, education, tenure and history of each employee with the acquired org, if possible.
2. Plan for Inclusion and Added Diversity.
Planning for inclusion and added diversity will ensure a smooth transition. Review data from the acquired organization. Where does each person fit into the new organization? Where could their diverse perspectives add value? Remember that each of these newly acquired employees have different backgrounds and work experience than your current staff. Employees who feel included are more likely to stay longer and be engaged so you want to make sure that they feel included and valued. Create a rough outline of where each employee may fit best. If possible, assign a buddy from current staff for each newly acquired employee so that they feel cared for from the start.
3. Find the Shared Purpose.
If your organization has acquired another company or group of employees, chances are there are common purposes or missions between the two organizations. Find the common purposes between the two organizations and build your communication plan around the common goals. This will help to build a bridge between the organizations and help employees feel acclimated more quickly.
4. Listen and Clearly Communicate.
Active listening and responding to what you are hearing from your new team members is essential to successful integration. By developing questions that will help you get to know your new team members, you will better understand how they will add value to your current organization. Listen without interrupting. Take notes. Listen to absorb information. Do not try to formulate responses to each point while they are talking. Prepare thoughtful responses that integrate the common purpose and goals.
5. Build Relationships of Trust and Transparency.
Be open and transparent about the operations of the company, decision making and the future trajectory of the newly expanded workforce. Share information that will aid understanding and acceptance. Respond to questions honestly. Follow-through on commitments. If you are planning to do lay-offs, do not promise that no jobs will be lost.
6. Ensure New Hires will Have an Impact.
Place new hires strategically where they can make a difference. Ensure that their manager understands the value of added diversity. Set new hires up to positively impact the team by providing them the necessary tools and ensuring they are engaged in work that is meaningful for them.
7. Sustain Engagement.
Once the new team is operating, your next focus will be on sustaining the engagement of the new team members, along with your original team members. Career mapping for future growth of the employee and the company is one essential aspect. Ensuring that you have a culture of innovation and inclusion by creating a psychologically safe environment for idea generation, experimentation and failure will help to sustain the engagement of your new staff.
Integrating a new team into an established company can be challenging, but successful if you use the principles of community engagement to plan, implement and follow-up throughout the process. Good luck!