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5 Steps On How To Manage Reluctance To Change In M&A

If you are currently going through a merger or acquisition, you might have some reluctance to change. This is because humans are hardwired to resist change, even when it is good for us. We really like things to stay the way they are, because we’re addicted to predictability.

But you shouldn’t take reluctance to change lightly. There’s a tipping point, and several employees who really don’t want to make the changes you need to make in order to merge with another business can throw a real spanner in the works.

In the very worst case scenario, they can cause you to lose business and revenue.

So it is really important you work out how to manage reluctance to change as early as you can. You might need an expert to help you to do that.

Consider a change management expert

A change management expert can overhaul the way you merge with another organisation. Their key goal is to figure out the very best way to deploy your change without impacting your business negatively. They’ll work to accelerate your change, and a key way they do this is by carefully managing your staff through the change, so that they’re not only capable of completing, but excited to do it.

Change management experts will identify the staff you have who will drive the change forward. They’ll fully investigate your current structure of working, and identify where there are gaps in skill or leadership that need to be addressed, then support your staff through the process of upskilling.

They’ll also identify where there might be reluctance, and work with you to address these potential roadblocks. Bring them in early enough, and they’ll stop it before it even starts.

How do change managers combat reluctance

First, you need to understand that reluctance is a healthy part of any change. If you manage it effectively, it can actually strengthen your merger. If you try to ignore it, you might find your entire project failing.

The first thing your change manager will do is identify where there is resistance to change. Some people will come out and tell you directly that they don’t want the change to happen, but lots of people will quietly fester about it, instead. This isn’t good, because if your staff aren’t onboard you can guarantee they aren’t giving you their best.

Change managers combat reluctance to a merger through the following steps:

1. Recognising resistance

Your change manager is specially trained to recognise resistance, whether it is obvious or not. They’ll identify where there are staff who might not be comfortable with the change. Accepting that this is happening is a huge part of managing reluctance. Don’t be afraid of it. Remember, this is normal and natural.

2. Understand and accept

It is really important that you do not launch into a trade if resistance is made known to you, or becomes obvious. You must listen to the concerns of your staff if you’re hoping to iron out this reluctance.

3. Communicate

By this, we don’t mean just tell your staff that the change is happening and they are expected to comply. Your leadership teams should be kept permanently in the know and given the opportunity to discuss the change, as they’re going to cascade the change down to other members of staff. It is really important your staff feel like they can communicate their concerns to you, or else they will quietly fester.

4. Understand their concern

There absolutely has to be a level of understanding from directors and leaders about what the concerns are and why they are raised. Once this is understood, you can work towards combating those concerns to make your staff feel safe and secure in their roles.

There is also the chance that their concerns have some basis. Perhaps they are worried about the staff capacity to take on the extra work, or concerned that teams will not merge effectively.

Once you know what the issues are, you can work with your staff to upskill them, or increase their capacity somehow, because the merger isn’t going to work unless you do.

If this is about losing status or control, staff members might benefit from being given a leading role in the change. That way, they feel as though they are contributing to the overall objectives of the organisation.

A change manager can help you get this information from your staff and put processes in place to combat these issues before they have an impact on your merger.

If you don’t have a change manager, it is important you factor in time to do this yourself.

5. Give it time

As we mentioned before, humans are hardwired not to like change, so your staff members might be reluctant to take part in a merger because they just want things to stay as they are. This could change over time, especially if they see you are taking the merger seriously and working to combat their concerns.

Concerns should be raised and then teams should work together to find solutions. Over time, as things get easier and people get used to the idea of merging, they should come round to it.


If you think a change manager would be beneficial for your M&A, Yorkshire Change can help. Our dedicated team are proficient in managing teams and strategizing for mergers.

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