Disarm the Mine-field of Merging Established Teams


Because you can rarely include employees on strategic decisions like merging teams together, they may feel like resistance is futile, but they resist anyway – and the whole goal of the change you’ve made suffers until they come together as one new, productive group.

Realities are compounded when they’ve lost team members because of this change, or when the individuals on their new ‘team’ are not known to them or will continue to work in a different location or were once viewed as their competition. The natural feelings of betrayal, vulnerability, distrust and guilt result in reactions to very reasonable fears. If you’ve led – or worked on – teams going through this tough transition, you remember how those reactions slowed progress and sabotaged the efforts toward bonding.

You also remember if you’ve ever planned or been force-fed fun that died sadly.  Forcing fun is a lame excuse for facing facts, and everyone in the room sees the elephants you are trying to ignore.  Kudos to the effort to get new colleagues to connect, but ensure the money you put into group bonding counts toward growing your new team.

Spark Trust and Build Bridges beyond their Fears

  • The greatest elephant in the room will be that everyone is focused on their personal survival.  So equating their individual career success to the success of the new team is a constructive way to help them plan their own survival.
  • Bringing people together automatically destroys one elephant that evolves with the announcement of change: ‘they are no more than names on an org chart or voices on conference calls.’  When you get them together, don’t let them self-segregate!
  • Believing that ‘those people want my job’ is an elephant that dehumanizes new team members.  Structure out-of-the-box opportunities to peek at the dreams, challenges, strengths and vulnerabilities that remind us that everyone in the room is a human.
  • “Who do they think they are?”  That attitude represents two destructive elephants that hang around when the original teams were successful: “We could succeed better alone!” and “They will hold us back!”  So ensuring there is an opportunity to respectfully reveal the competence of individuals and to celebrate the track record of past team successes can put holes in those caustic messages.

With a new team can come great celebration, but mostly after the individuals have actually become a new team, exhibited their individual and coordinated excellence, and met their targeted success.  Aligning people, processes and performance is what Pepperbox Solutions does best!  You will need to lead this charge, but it can’t hurt to have good strategists behind you!  Call us!