The challenge of merging - how Virgin and O2 can successfully ride the wave of transformation and change

- 3 mins

This month, we’ve been exploring the themes of transformation and change, looking at the best approaches for businesses to keep teams feeling reassured and excited in what can potentially feel like a turbulent time.

In recent months, there have been many exciting mergers and acquisitions announced across numerous sectors including Pharmaceuticals, Media and Technology. One such announcement here in the UK is the £31 billion mega-merger between Virgin Media and O2 which was given the green light by regulators earlier this year.

Like all companies who go through this process, Virgin and O2 will need to consider how these changes will impact their staff. It’s not simply a case of changing a name, a logo or headed paper, it’s about capturing the hearts and minds of management and employees and getting them excited about the change that is to come.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of the pitfalls that companies can fall into when going through a merger and acquisition and how to approach them to ensure their teams stay engaged, energised and focused.

Make people feel included

As the two companies merge, the overall vision of the business will inevitably alter as well. This, in turn, will trickle down to individual employee’s personal missions, their sense of purpose or their ‘why’. In order to cultivate a sense of belonging among teams, it’s important to help managers and employees understand the bigger picture and how they fit into that.

Multipliers not managers

Leaders directing the new vision of a business should enhance the qualities of their employees to help them realise their full potential. Instead of simply managing people, multipliers seek opportunities, they are cheerleaders for the desired state of the business and share their personal excitement at a desired future state.

Don’t just communicate, activate

People are bombarded with communication in every area of their daily lives, so much so, they rarely pay attention to 10% of it. Instead of communicating change, newly merged companies should activate people instead.

Activation is the art of helping people connect personally with something. When this is done well, people change how they think, behave and perform in their roles, ensuring they become multipliers for the new ways of working.

A long road ahead

Deals like the one reached by O2 and Virgin can be a long and complex process but the journey isn’t over once the agreement is made. It’s important to remember that these changes will not settle overnight, or perhaps not even after 6 or 12 months.

A dedicated campaign is required for each stage of the process in order to give employees the opportunity to explore the why, what, and how for themselves.

How we can help

At People Activation, we are experts in helping support global transformation and change programmes for some of the world's largest organisations including but not limited to Pharmaceuticals, IT and Telecoms, Medtech and Humanitarian organisations.

This is done through on and offline campaigns, live events and workshops that help change the way people think, behave and perform in their roles. To learn more about how to activate transformation and change download our free guide here: