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M&A Culture Transition: Communication Methods

Another cultural difference that could pop up after an M&A deal is in how management communicates with employees. In a very general sense, cultures in Latin America, Asia, and the southern United States tend to use the bypass method, which gets to a point in a roundabout way.

Those who utilize this method often hear simple statements like “Clean up the wording in that contract” to mean something like “You’re worthless; that contract was terribly done.”

Instead, when speaking with a bypass method user, you need to say, “You did a great job with that contract. I know you worked really hard; I have just a couple of little things I need you take a look at, and maybe you and I can tweak the language a little bit.”

Northern U.S. culture and Western Europe tend to be more direct. Those cultures don’t mince words. And of course, New York City is in a league of its own — it’s possibly the most direct culture on the planet!

One of your primary objectives is to provide clarity, deepen understanding, and increase commitment. Take the time to determine how best to communicate with your newly acquired company, including employees, the management team, and customers and vendors. Failure to understand the differences of how cultures communicate can cause unwanted and unintended consequences.

Do they communicate directly or use the bypass method? Direct communication with a culture used to the bypass method causes irritation, and worse, jumbled and misread communication.

Successful communication in a culture with a bypass method can involve telling people all the wonderful things they were doing, asking them about their families, talking about fishing or the big football game, and then after a few minutes of polite chitchat, discreetly pointing out something he wanted them to take care of.

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