Is Your Bank Ready for a Merger?


Your bank has just announced that it is being acquired by another bank, and you wonder if this is going to be a smooth transition, or an experience in financial services hell. Maybe your bank just announced they are acquiring another bank and taking over the operation and you wonder if it will be better or worse than the last time they acquired a bank.

You see, when two banks merge they affect the lives of employees and customers on both sides of the transaction. Yet unless it is a major acquisition, very little attention is given to the human elements of a transaction. The big banks seem to realize the impact more so they do a better job of transitioning.

In my corporate life, I experienced a lot of bank mergers. Only twice was I working for the acquiring bank, while the rest of those experiences were from the side closing down. When your side is being acquired, you are at the mercy of the buyer and how well they want this merger to go. If they are focused as a management team on making the experience easy for employees and customers then everyone will get through this with a minimum of heartache. But if they have their head in the clouds, assuming someone on the team is watching the ball, this is going to be a cluster of mistakes.

As I narrow down the focus of who is in charge of making a merger successful, you may think I’m now done because I just made the senior management team the star players. But actually, there are two specific individuals that are really the focus; The HR Director and the Training Director. You may have different titles, but you understand the two people I am talking about.

The HR Director of the acquiring bank must reassure all the new folks of their chances of employment, and the roles they are playing as soon as possible, otherwise people you wanted to keep will leave for more stable environments. And of course the folks you wanted to lay off will stay put. Salaries, Benefits, and basically all new employee information need to be discussed before the merger is final so people know where they stand. I realize that this is touchy, but buying future loyalty begins early.

The Training Director is the make it or break it person in a bank merger. This person, given the bank’s goals for this merger, should be able to draft a complete training plan within a week. How many branches are we keeping? Which departments are we merging and which ones will go away on merger day? How many managers need to learn our processes? How many total employees need to go through introductory orientation training? How will we train culture? What was their history on all compliance training and do we need to do catch up or just integrate into our schedule?

The Training Director should be able to present this plan to the senior management team in writing after a week without being asked. Yes you read that correctly. If your training director needs to be asked to create a training plan after a merger has been announced, then you do not have the right person in charge.


Yesterday you made your grand announcement to the world. Today it is time to begin the work if you want a successful outcome! If you need help, let me know.

Only Old Dogs Need Training


Have you noticed that your company doesn’t provide a lot of skills training anymore? It seems that most (not all) companies would rather hire a new external person over training from within for openings. This change in focus comes for a variety of reasons, but these are my favorite two:


First, HR Directors find recruitment the easiest HR discipline and go out of their way to focus time and resources on keeping the recruitment department busy. By not training existing employees to assume promotions, they keep recruitment necessary and eliminate the need for HR to spend resources training employees.   If we don’t train managers in communication skills, we create hostile work environments that force more resignations, thus a need for recruitment again.

Let’s see, if we only know how to terminate employees, or ignore problems in the workplace by skipping employee relation challenges, we again encourage a need for continual recruitment. If we promote people that haven’t managed and let them run amok, we can create more turnovers, and a need for recruitment to keep busy.

If we fail to manage wage and hour laws, benefits, and fair compensation, we once again design resignations into our daily activities. If we allow people, whether management or peers to harass each other without corrective actions, we can get a lot of employees to quit. The more that quit, the more we need recruitment.

If HR Directors focused equally on all HR disciplines there would be better retention, better work environments, happier employees, and unless you are growing, less need for recruitment.  But that also means that Senior Management needs to hold HR to the flame in doing their job.  Now how often does that happen?


Second, is the perception that only old dogs want training and that the X & Y generations find answers on their own. Who needs a training function if all you need is YouTube?

As long as you don’t care where your employees get their answers, and Fred Foot-In-Mouth does management communications on his YouTube channel on any subject is okay with you, yeah, why do you need training?

But if you do want things done a specific way, and you do want your employees to communicate with each other in a respectful way, then you need to establish guidelines and appropriate training. You need to establish required skill competencies, and you need to set requirements based on roles and responsibilities.

If your company is not training employees, it is a sign of a failing organization. Not a single organization has been successful without a robust learning function. And if you have a training function, but the leader is not doing much, maybe it is time to hire one of those old dogs that knows how to run a training function that produces results. Old Dog Training Managers know how to train Old Dogs, Adult Dogs and Puppies. Everyone needs to be a continual learner, from the CEO down.  Go find yourself an Old Dog – Arf!