Where is your escalator taking you?

By February 1, 2017 August 8th, 2017 insights

Change is coming. It’s always coming. Will it sweep you up, or will you control it?

If you’re a fan of “The Simpsons,” you know about the monorail episode. In that show, a con man tricks the town of Springfield into making worthless purchases, including an escalator to nowhere.

It’s exactly what you think. People ride it to the top … and fall off.

It’s hard to imagine something more inane, damaging and self-defeating than being on an escalator to nowhere. Yet every year, that’s where countless businesses end up when they try to make a major change and only focus on the financial costs.

Have you introduced new leadership to the team? Are you experiencing rapid growth, or turnover in your workforce? Is your business going through an evolution? For example, take mergers and acquisitions, a time when teams are in transition. Merging means merging everything. Acquiring means acquiring everything – the other company’s systems, people and culture included. And if you don’t have a system to onboard all of it, bye-bye escalator, hello face plant onto the parking lot below, as all of that upward momentum you were trying to build comes crashing down.

According to a study by KPMG, 83 percent of all mergers and acquisitions fail to produce any benefit for stakeholders, and more than half destroyed value. KPMG interviewed more than 100 executives who had been involved in hundreds of deals over a two-year period. By an overwhelming margin, the executives pointed to improperly assimilated people and cultural differences as the fatal flaws.

What to do about it?

Your escalator has to lead somewhere. You need goals – and to reach those goals, you need a plan. If you don’t have experts on staff with business culture experience, a third party that specializes in growing and maintaining healthy cultures can help. For example, CultureShoc’s Teams in Transition program provides a proven, five-step process to help companies build and maintain a strong culture through times of change.

Whoever leads the cultural transition needs to be involved from the beginning.

Your culture experts should consider the impact of:

  • Unifying activities. This can be a charity event, a team-building day or something as simple as a meet and greet with the new team. Start at square one to build the foundation for new relationships.
  • Uncertainty is endemic in times of transition. People are unsure what their job will now entail. Some are concerned about whether they’ll even have a job. Managers and executives from opposite sides of the fence can be suspicious of each other’s motives and agendas. With that in mind, facilitate as much transparent discussion as possible, and make every effort to overcommunicate. Encourage communication among different levels in the organization; communication equals trust and clarity. And if you feel like you’re communicating too much? Then you’re on the right track.
  • That speech from a month ago? The one that got the rousing ovation? Nobody remembers it. Sorry. All of that motivation is wilting under the weight of the daily grind, and you can’t afford that in a transitional period. Check-ins with key people after 30, 60 and 90 days present critical opportunities to reinforce unity, communication and trust as the organization continues to integrate, and quarterly check-ins can reinforce the process.

What should be accomplished at each of those check-ins?

These lessons aren’t exclusive to mergers and acquisitions – they can be applied to any period of transition – including a retirement or passing of the torch at the top. The keys are planning and an ironclad commitment to execution.

With guidance and knowledge on your side, you can ensure your escalator is headed somewhere good – and not leading to a precipitous fall.

If your team is in transition, support it by calling us today at 844.336.SHOC or send us a message.