Employees are told a big lie in most mergers or acquisitions. What is that big lie? Nothing will change.
The underhanded purpose of this statement is to calm down the troops so they will keep their heads down and work hard to complete the details of the deal. The first lie from leadership starts a downward spiral of other lies.
John Mariotti, a Forbes contributor, wrote an important article on this topic, entitled, “When Leaders Lie — Bad Things Happen.” He states, “A typical corporate leader’s lie is the one that follows an acquisition or a merger: ‘Nothing will change.’ What utter nonsense that statement is. Of course things will change—maybe everything.”
People who thought their jobs were safe, based upon the words of their leaders, are eventually laid-off.
Locations who thought they were safe, based on the words of their leaders, are closed or are left with a skeleton crew.
Communities who thought their large corporate donor was staying in their city, based on the words of the corporation’s leaders, lose life-saving contributions.
One of the big problems with merger mania are the change-in-control provisions embedded in executive incentive compensation plans. These provisions protect company leaders by triggering 100% vesting in lucrative compensation plans. This translates into big money. The allure of a life-changing monetary windfall can cause unethical behavior, including bad decisions and misleading communications.
The next time you are told, nothing will change, remember past corporate practices make this very unlikely.