Consulting Playbook: The Importance of Trust and Trustworthiness for a Successful Merger

by Hélène Laffitte | Jan 24, 2023 | Consulting Playbook, Human Capital

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #4

Trust is understandably considered one of the building blocks in every successful team and organization. And the lack of trust will therefore present a major obstacle to most operations. In case of mergers, the issue becomes even more substantial and often challenging.

Overcoming Cultural Differences for a Smooth Merger –

When two large global mobility solutions providers merged, each organization had its own successful operating model. Their cultural values presented a concern to executives who thought the two might not get smoothly integrated and impede the merger. An in-depth analysis of the two operating models was conducted to identify strengths and weaknesses of each party. These findings built the foundation for developing new operating systems. All concerns were openly addressed to make sure differences would be resolved to facilitate the integration process.

Establishing a Productive Dialogue with All Parties –

In order to address each party’s points and criticism, and ensure the smoothest merger, the Consultant needed to complete a comparative analysis of each organization’s cultural DNA, their key management, values and behavioral characteristics.

Being an expert in the field, the Consultant developed a pre-defined interview protocol that included questions on activities, restrictions, rules and procedures, cultural norms, and the perceived pros and cons of the merger. The interviews were confidential, and proved to be extremely useful in conducting an alignment session for each Executive Committee. New operating models were discussed and shared with staff and management teams. The Consultant established a dedicated Steering Committee to determine: corporate center, centralization, control, new decision-making procedure, executive behavior, and responsibilities’ delegation.

The Impact on the Business Achieved the Following:

  • Resolution of many initial differences
  • Shared agreement about cultural gaps endorsed by both executive teams
  • The merger risks were sufficiently reduced throughout the remaining phases of the effort

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Additional Information

Trust concerns within an organization can arise for many reasons. As part of the overall organization’s culture, trust is the bond that connects departments, team members, leadership and employees. An organization with a high level of trust behaves in a trustworthy fashion, and merits the trust of all its employees and business partners alike.

How Do We Promote Trust?

Some of the most effective principles in building a culture of trust are:

  • Competence Trust – Allowing each team member to make their own decisions, express their opinions, and value their input
  • Contractual Trust – Consistency in keeping agreements, commitments and defining and delivering on expectations.
  • Communication Trust – Openly sharing information and providing constructive feedback

And What About Trustworthiness?

There are 4 Main Aspects to Look at When Trying to Define an Organization’s Trustworthiness:

  • Serving Clients – Focus and strive to best serve clients, not just aim at making money. Your employees should genuinely believe that this is your core purpose and share the same vision which goes beyond sales and profits.
  • Collaborative team environment – As an executive, don’t be tempted to just manage others. Many achievements are a product of a team play and effective collaboration.
  • Transparency – There is no trust if there are secrets. Avoid any hidden agendas, and practice openness to sustain trustworthiness.
  • Long-term Perspective – Building trust is all about consistency over a period of time. You need to deliver on your promise time and time again. Sales might be transactional, but you need to develop long-term relationships.

For further reading:

Trusted to Lead: Trustworthiness and its Impact on Leadership

The Enemies of Trust

Trust Rules: The Most Important Secret About Trust


About The Consulting Playbook

The Consulting Playbook is a collection of posts designed to offer insights into how businesses and their executives can utilize consulting as a strategic lever to boost performance. Each Consulting Playbook post is broken down into a few elements: Case Study, Additional Information regarding the technical application, and Additional Links related to the topic.

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Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.

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