Question: Settling who-reports-to-who after a merger

Our company has recently announced its first merger, a similarly sized company. Together (after synergies) we will be almost 750 people.

During early stages of this merger we postponed the questions regarding exact reporting relationships among the managers in two teams (Key executive level changes were crystallized. Beyond that, it was getting contentious and slowing us down with the actual merger.)

Now, having announced, we still have people all over the map. We risk losing our customer focus, while we figure out reporting relationships.

Do you have ideas on how we can move faster with something which may not be perfect, but at least get us back in the game? Then we can figure out improvements over time.

3 Expert Insights

Congratulations on your merger and the opportunity that this expansion brings.  I agree with you that you should move quickly in getting critical roles settled.  I am assuming that one of the issues you have is redundancy.  So you will want to look at the performance of the existing managers and use that as one of your decision factors.  Hopefully your new executives can give you a sense of how the managers performed previously.  

However, past performance may not get you to the future.  So I would also consider using a competency model to help you identify the skill/behaviors you require and then assess the current managers against these competency sets.  I highly recommend using the KornFerry/Lominger Leadership Architect Card Sort to determine the competencies required to get you to your future vision.  The card sort process should definitely help in your decision making process.  

One thing that might make all of this easier is the implementation of an outplacement process to assist those who will be leaving the company.  This may even help with self selection.

Best of luck to you.


Getting a merger accomplished is a great success. I wish you even more success in the future by taking advantage of everybody's knowledge who was and is part of the new company.

What you did not say anything about is whose name does a new company have, or did you select a new name. If you kept one of the names that the companies had, you are sending a message to everybody. If you selected a new name you are also sending a message which essentially says we are new and we are pursuing a new path.

I do not like the word "redundancy". People who are considered "redundant" can develop feelings of inadequacy, lack of knowledge, commitment and alike. I suggest you don't use this word, especially since those that stay could feel that one of the days they will be redundant and if they are good they will look for another job.

I had a chance to run an acquired company where I came into after the acquisition. I would have done things differently, but had no choice as the acquisition was already done.

I would suggest to you to hire an outside company that has experience in organizational development and have them do for you what is needed to organize the new company and suggest the people that are needed to run the company effectively and efficiently.

Last but not least communicate to your employees as well as your customers what your plans are and keep them up to date. This will insure your customers do not leave you and your employees get the best possible understanding as to why are you doing what you are doing.

If you think the merger was tough, this is much tougher!

I concur with my colleagues and would like to add my penny to the piggy bank.  People want certainty and stability, avoiding an issue only increases uncertainties and causes a lot of unease. I recommend that clear responsibilities and authorities be defined while sharing the pool of positions between both groups of employees.

Easy said than done, people have to be interviewed, assessed and especially listened to, encouraged to tell their truth  without any Repercussions. This can be done in a matter of days, leaving behind certainty, happy and unhappy people.

I will be glad to support you throughout this process.