Using employee surveys to improve a post-merger culture

Organized Change was instrumental in helping Wavecom (a French-based telecommunication company) identify and solve internal tensions hindering organizational growth. In a few weeks, Organized Change brought solutions to bring clarity


An international company, the result of a merger between an American and French firm, had also used a “rollup” strategy to acquire niche players in the protection equipment space. Protection equipment includes clothing for firefighters, police and security personnel.

As a consequence of this merger and acquisitions, we were commissioned to survey employees to determine the cultural consequences and “leftovers” that would affect cooperation between employees and how it might be related to company performance.

Method and data collected

We used our database of survey questions to create a collection focused on identifying what consequences there might be from such a merger. We created, analyzed and distributed the data using OCSS (Organized Change Survey System)

These items were translated from the original English into Spanish, French and German. Respondents chose which language fit them best.

• Survey categories included: corporate culture, efficiency of organization, motivation, quality of teamwork, environment of job, understanding of vision/mission/strategy. Each category had between three to five questions

• Data were broken out by location, status, labor grade(level), business unit and language. Above is an empty, generic authority matrix. Major or critical tasks are listed down the first column; employee names (to clarify personal roles) or department functions (to clarify inter-department roles) are listed across the top.

• 693 out of approx. 1700 salaried employees answered the survey, a 40.7% return rate The boxes in the matrix is filled in with one or more of the following. Note that not all boxes have to be filled in.

• Instead of the oft-used “agree-disagree” scale with all its interpretation problems( See and our book, Master of All You Survey available on Amazon) a need for improvement scale was used.

A sample of how the data were presented is below:


Our conclusions were as follows:

• Formerly independent companies’ sense they don’t have the authority they did before the merger – roles & responsibilities have changed

• Lack of established company culture

• Perceived micro-management and mis-alignment between authority and responsibility

• Lack of understanding of matrix structure – MBU/SBU boundaries

• Lack of understanding of “who’s responsible for what?” in other business units - not clear who to contact when making a decision

• Lack of coordination of RD, marketing, sales and logistics activities between MBUs and SBUs

The data and conclusions above were presented at a senior management conference of the top 300 managers.

There were additional summaries made for each SBU.

Recommendations and Results

For dealing with the above, we recommended using an authority matrix™ (summarized in Using an authority matrix to clarify roles and empower employees)

A final note, and what happened to the CEO

A curious thing happened while we were interviewing the most senior staff before the survey was distributed: When talking with the CEO, he said, “Well, I suppose we are doing this, but they didn’t ask me about it.” Our primary contact had been the head of Human Resources.

It turns out the survey was done as partial assessments of the CEO’s performance post-merger. Human Resources had been in discussions with the company board about the survey, but had not informed the CEO.

Apparently, partly as a result of the survey, the CEO was fired.