Mergers and acquisitions of organizations pose significant restructuring and leadership challenges. As the Head of Department of recently merged organizational groups, I would expect repercussions that seriously impact team cohesiveness. In fact, mergers often become the breeding ground, where shared vision, beliefs and values, can undergo dramatic upheavals. This can trap the newly formed teams in a storming phase.
The team members may begin questioning the way the combined firm would look, act and feel; it may not resemble the firm they've cherished, the one they helped build (Taylor, 2002). This can hurt the team morale. It's also true, that virtually in all cases of organizational mergers described in literature, there has been conflict that affect one, or a few associates in a significant way, to the point that it may be in their interest to leave the organization.
Facing the Challenge
As the Head of Department, I need to realize that the team must coalesce seamlessly for a common vision and purpose. I also need to appreciate that the team cohesion is a function of task, and social cohesion. Establishing a shared commitment and organizational goals; along with a positive bond amongst team members, requires clear and honest communication.
The stages for team development described by Blanchard, and adapted effectively in the Toyota (Licker, 2004), provides a simple framework that could be useful in the current situation:-
1. Orientation: Provide the group a strong direction, clarity in mission, rules of engagement, and tools that team members may use.
2. Dissatisfaction: The team members continue to need direction (structure) and also social support to overcome social dynamics that may result into dissatisfaction.
3. Integration: The group obtains clarity of roles amongst team members and begins to exert control over the team processes. The challenge is for the group to learn about roles, goals, norms and team structure.
4. Production: The group performs effectively with little task or social support.
The alternative team development model is that of, Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing as proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965.
I would address this situation with a three phase focused plan viz., initiation, development, and production.
1. Initiation: Breaking the ice with a weekend workshop in formal and informal settings. The workshop would provide opportunities for the group to mix with each other; work in small groups to discuss, deliberate and recognize the strengths of the group; interact amongst the groups to understand and deliberate on goals and mission; highlight the weak spots of apprehension and brainstorm to find ways of overcoming them; share the best practices of their respective parent units; and above all, have fun with