First, they need to appoint a fully committed top team before the close of the deal that expresses the identity of the new enterprise. The senior managers will work more closely together if they are asked to focus on the external environment: customers, competitors, business partners and regulators.
Second, they should make sure they have an effective and compelling story to tell the outside world, which explains why the merger is happening.
Third, special care should be taken in creating the new company culture. Some companies leave it to laissez-faire forces, in which the fittest one is supposed to come out on top. Others intervene too much. The best way forward is to set clear performance goals and build a new culture around the things that need to be done to win in their markets.
Fourth, outside stakeholders, such as customers, business partners and communities, should be consulted about the merger. Businesses can learn a great deal from them.
Fifth, the most successful companies make sure that everyone learns from the experience of merging and uses the information to improve the whole organisation.
The elusive art of postmerger leadership
David G. Fubini, Colin Price and Maurizio Zollo
The McKinsey Quarterly, 2006 No 4