Case Study: How to Navigate a Company Merger Without Losing Your Top People

Introduction:

Spec Furniture, a stalwart in contract furniture manufacturing, has navigated the complexities of rapid growth, cultural integration, and the global pandemic. With roots dating back to 1991 and starting with just a four-person team, the company had established a strong presence in multiple sectors: corporate, healthcare and education.

Challenge:

The acquisition of Spec Furniture by Sauter Manufacturing in 2017 marked the beginning of a challenging cultural integration merger process. The company faced the dual challenges of honoring its family-business roots while adapting to the culture of a larger corporate entity.

This period of transition led to unease among longstanding employees. The situation was further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced rapid shifts to remote work, causing significant disruptions in communication and collaboration.

Objectives:

Spec Furniture recognized the need for a strategic intervention to bridge the cultural divide and provide support for its employees during these periods of change.

Spec Furniture’s Chief Operations Officer Reg Bernard said:

“One of the things that we were trying to achieve was we recognized that we needed to develop some level of common language. We had people in front of us that were experiencing lots of changes. They didn’t know how to deal with it. We didn’t know how to deal with it.”

The objective was clear: to create a cohesive, inclusive culture that embraced both the legacy of Spec and the new direction under Sauter Manufacturing. The company aimed to establish a common language and set of tools that would facilitate better communication, collaboration, and support for the diverse needs of their teams.

The Imperative of Psychological Safety for Coaches, Consultants and Trainers

This article offers evidence of the imperative of psychological safety for coaches, consultants and trainers, outlining why its essential for client organizations and how it can be integrated and sustained through strategic initiatives and accreditation.

In today’s corporate environment, psychological safety has ascended from mere buzzword status to become an essential part of healthy organizational culture. The shift stems from both internal motivations and external pressures, signaling a permanent place for psychological safety in modern workplaces.

 

Internal Factors Driving the Need for Psychological Safety

Increased Performance

For professionals working with teams, it’s vital to understand that psychological safety directly impacts engagement and allows for greater innovation and productivity. When Google set out to determine what made their best performers tick, they discovered that psychological safety was the number one determining factor in team performance.

Through working with leaders and coaching them on developing greater skill in psychological safety, they’ll be creating environments that encourage teams to share openly without the fear of repercussions. Teams will be more inclined to take risks and generate better solutions providing a competitive edge.

Improved Bottom Line

Psychological safety contributes to the financial health of a company by fostering better decision-making and reducing costs associated with workplace conflicts. In a recent case study, ABL was able to show how psychological safety led to a financial record-breaking year for one of our clients.

As a consultant, emphasizing the economic benefits of psychological safety can help in persuading senior management to invest in relevant initiatives.

Occupational Health and Safety Compliance & Mitigating Risk

Addressing psychological hazards is now as crucial as managing physical ones. Executive coaches, consultants and trainers can guide organizations in complying with health and safety regulations, thereby mitigating risks associated with mental health that can have legal and financial repercussions.

Improved Retention

Retention is a significant concern for organizations, especially in light of ‘The Great Resignation’. Employees are naturally inclined to stay longer where they feel genuinely valued and understood. Coaches, trainers and consultants can highlight how a psychologically safe environment encourages employees to stay longer, reducing turnover and the associated costs of hiring and training new staff.

Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Belonging

An inclusive culture is underpinned by psychological safety. Coaches and consultants play a crucial role in fostering environments where diversity is celebrated, and all employees can thrive, thus enhancing corporate reputation and employee satisfaction.

 

External Factors Reinforcing the Urgency

ISO Psychosocial Risk Regulations

Global standards now mandate the management of psychosocial risks. Executive coaches, trainers and consultants need to be well-versed in psychological safety to guide their clients effectively in achieving compliance.

Workplace Legislation & Accountability

In regions like Australia, Canada, and the UK, where psychological safety practices are legally mandated, coaches and consultants must prepare their clients to adhere to these laws to avoid penalties.

Employee Expectations

Post ‘The Great Resignation,’ employees prioritize workplaces that support their well-being. Coaches and consultants should advise leadership on the strategic value of meeting these expectations to attract and retain top talent.

Employee Health

With the rise of mental health issues, workplaces have a critical role in fostering employee well-being. Consultants, coaches and trainers can offer programs that help companies address these challenges, enhancing their role as supportive employers.

 

Achieving Psychological Safety Accreditation with ABL

To adapt and align with these driving forces, gaining accreditation in psychological safety is a strategic move for coaches, trainers and consultants. As the corporate world increasingly prioritizes mental health and well-being, those accredited in psychological safety will find themselves in high demand.

The Academy of Brain-based Leadership (ABL) offers a comprehensive Psychological S.A.F.E.T.Y.™ Accreditation. Using our neuroscience-backed S.A.F.E.T.Y.™ Assessment and Toolkit, coaches, consultants and trainers learn how to help people gain insight into their psychological safety needs and strategies to enhance the psychological safety of those they work with.

 

Conclusion

As an executive coach, trainer, or consultant, emphasizing the importance of psychological safety within client organizations is crucial. Not only does it foster a more innovative, productive, and inclusive workplace, but it also aligns with global standards and legal requirements, enhancing corporate reputation and operational success.

Through applying the knowledge gained from accreditation in your consulting or coaching practices you’ll be significantly enhancing your value proposition to clients.

Psychological safety is essential and it’s here to stay. Don’t get left behind.

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