Me vs. We: Getting Employees On Board After Health Care System Mergers

Congratulations! You made it through the regulatory and legal approvals and signed on the dotted line. You went through the painstaking process of integrating the systems’ brands. Two provider systems are now one. Your employees have embraced the changes and are moving forward together like a well-oiled machine.

Wait – they’re not?

No surprise. M&A generally means a lot of change: new systems, processes, schedules, priorities. Employees – especially those directly responsible for patient care – often consider the merger just one more thing they have to deal with during an already overloaded day. They ignore the “we” of the merger and remain focused on the “me.”

The flurry of activity around M&A often causes companies to become distracted from the actual running of the business. In the case of system mergers, that distraction has the potential to negatively impact patient care.

How do you help employees to understand and embrace the value of the new system? Consider these tips for smoothing the inevitable bumps that occur as one system becomes two.

Share the story. You’ve done the work to determine the value proposition for the new system. Make sure employees know and can clearly articulate why the two systems are better together. Reinforce the new system’s mission, vision and values – and illustrate how they will translate into patient care.

Move quickly. Employees don’t necessarily like change, but they expect it post-M&A. Share the changes employees can expect and move quickly to implement them. Employees from both systems will be watching what the organization does rather than what it says. Too much time lag between communicating and doing, and employees will remain entrenched in past ways of working.

Articulate new standards of performance. Employees don’t mind being held to higher standards, as long as they are clearly articulated and tied to improved outcomes, effectiveness or efficiency. But don’t just bark out the new orders. Make sure leaders and managers reinforce their belief in employees’ ability to achieve them and support for employees during the transition.

Make it fun. Mergers are like marriages: they’re a lot of work, but they have a lot of benefits. Use visuals – posters, quick video clips, photos – to Illustrate what you’ll accomplish together.

The move from Me to We is a journey. The sooner you invite your employees along for the ride, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.

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