The joys and the challenges of merging two competing organisations

  • 2min.

The Chairman of a Supervisory Board for National educational institution asked us to support him in merging two departments.

The boards of both departments needed to integrate, work together and embrace a common set values and a shared vision. To make it more complicated: these two departments had been competitors for many years.

How do you change from a spirit of “I am better than you” to “We are who we are, but, together we are stronger.”

 

Creating something new from something old

Our Approach

We worked with The Leadership Culture Survey to help the Board Members see what their current culture and systems look liked and how it compared with the culture people desired. In effect, we too a Culture Inventory to find the common values and way of working between, historically, two opposing teams,

Identify the share purpose and ambition for the two Boards

The insights that were created reflected the inner assumptions of each of the individual leaders, towards both themselves and their other team members. The Leadership Circle 360 bridged the gap between culture and leadership and helped to identify perceived and actual behaviours amongst the key leaders and Board members. Off the back of the survey we ran one-on-one debrief and insight sessions to fully understand the dynamic for each of the leaders. It was clear from the results that the Board had their work cut out and there was a significant difference in how leadership was acting and how they were talking.

In short – the merger as it stood, would not work. Had they continued it would have failed for the simple reason that the leadership was not doing what they talked about and that is not a culture worthy of trust.

This insight was a massive eyer-opener and shifted leaders out of the reactive behaviour to start a journey of embracing the competencies and transparency necessary. They bravely chose for a purpose driven leadership that was rooted in honesty, complete transparency and a clear vision for their merged future,

How to change your own behaviour?

  1. Twice a month we held sessions locally to train teams in new, agile ways of working
  2. Together we created a common language and supported them to be role models of this new language in their local teams
  3. We supported them to break old patterns and habits
  4. We coached the senior leader of both departments on an individual basis. What role models are needed? What is holding you back from being truly present and delivering? How to shift as a leader between being the visionary at the front to the supporter at the back?

Results

  • Team members who truly trusted their leadership, who could see them walk the talk and acting in a transparent way
  • Successfully transition from two competitors to one team
  • Developing new skills to ensure the journey continued long after our work had finished
  • Learning how to practice change, lead with agility, support each other, work together with a shared purpose, be accountable for the behaviour and open to that accountability

For more information on the specifics or to find out how you can create successful mergers, contact Yvonne, she’d love to talk.