By Dr. Alan James Yu, Senior OD Partner
Mergers and acquisitions are relatively common in today’s globalised economic environment. In the recent financial news, OCBC recently purchased Barclays private banking business in Singapore and Hong Kong for US$320 million. In the hospitality industry, Marriott is in the process of acquiring the property assets of competitor Starwood.
In a newly created environment where people from formerly different environments must now learn to work together effectively and seamlessly, a new organisational culture must also be created to facilitate this process of change and adaptation. HR professionals in partnership with corporate executives, people managers, and employees can create a new organisational culture in the following ways:
1. Organising Opportunities for Dialogue around Values
The purpose of a dialogue is not to debate on the future values of the organisation or to decide on what the values should be. It is an opportunity for individuals in an organisation to listen and understand what is truly important to one another. Ideally, individuals responsible for planning such opportunities would include those representing each of the former business entities in all departmental areas and management levels. In particular, the contributions of individual contributors should not be overlooked.
Asking critical questions like “What would a workplace in which we bring the very best of ourselves, look like?” or any powerful question that matters will facilitate productive contributions from participants, and the necessary understanding to create the ideal organisational culture. HR professionals, with the help of a consulting firm, would be able to consolidate insights from dialogues into a compelling vision statement that could be presented to the executive team.
2. Establish Good Norms and Practices that Support Development of Organisational Culture
Values, no matter how frequently they are espoused, are meaningless unless they are practised in service to the organisation. Norms such as offering constructive feedback or having an open-door policy, help to establish predictable behaviours in support of the organisation’s cultural values. Organisations should secure understanding and agreement from the employees to practice these norms through the use of MOUs and performance appraisals.
3. Think About How to Reinforce Organisational Culture through the PhysicalEnvironment
Do not neglect the importance of the organisation’s physical space. The environment can trigger positive behaviours that support the development and sustenance of an organisation’s culture. HR professionals and managers should work together to design environments that are conducive to the new cultural values. They might collaborate to design creative posters to put onto the walls, remove cubicle walls to facilitate collaboration, provide comfortable spaces that promote interaction, or provide recreational facilities to promote balance between hard work and fun.
In the face of corporate merger and acquisition challenges, corporations really want to make sure the reorganisation process goes smoothly without losing top talent. At the very centre of an organisation’s culture are core values that guide the day-to-day actions of the individuals who drive the organisational culture. Therefore, the creation of a new organisational culture requires the participation of all individuals in the organisation.
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