• Mark Dollins

Eight employee communications lessons from an historical merger

I thrive with change. In fact, within six months after I arrived at DuPont in 2015, we had a new CEO, a $1B cost-restructuring initiative and a $130B mega merger with Dow. My reaction was, “Alrighty then, now we’re picking up some speed.”

I wasn’t always this way, and I know all too well that not everyone is as comfortable with the same pace and scale of change. Every human, company and culture has a different tolerance, and the implications for managing change communications are correspondingly complex.

As communicators grapple with what, and how, to lead change communications through periods of sustained stress and change, I thought it might be helpful to share eight lessons I learned doing just that for the largest industrial merger in history: the DuPont and Dow merger.

All the standard caveats apply; it wasn’t perfect, I’d do some things differently and it was painful at times. But at the end of the day, our internal communications efforts led to results that showed clear impact on understanding the journey, belief in the future state, attrition rates below historical norms and consistently increasing engagement metrics — all as business performance improved significantly.

While the transaction closed in August of last year, the twists and turns of 20 months of shareholder votes and regulatory approvals —followed by another 18 months of standing up 3 new companies — brought unprecedented opportunities for wins, losses and a ton of learning.

These lessons apply regardless of the type, pace and scale of change, and cover a range of critical disciplines ranging from content to process to measurement —all under the umbrella of change Communications. So let’s go.

Lesson #1: The narrative is king.

The single most important tool in any change Communications journey is having a clear, compelling and sustained narrative. If you don’t get it 100% right at first, there’s always room for improvement. Without one, you’re in a boat without oars. And done well, it will serve as a consistent North Star your leaders and employees desperately need to give them confidence in your progress and belief in its end state. Spend the time and energy up front getting this as right as you can.

Lesson #2 Read more >

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