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TD Magazine Article

Promoting Coalescence

Postmerger employee training calls for quick thinking and attention to detail.


Fri Jun 14 2024

Promoting Coalescence

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Postmerger employee training calls for quick thinking and attention to detail.


Company mergers and ac­qui­sitions create particularly challenging tasks for L&D teams that implement training to ensure smooth organizational transitions—often at a rapid pace.

When Choice Hotels acquired Radisson Hotels Group, Americas, the talent development team faced the monumental task of onboarding approximately 700 franchise hotels and 14 managed-and-owned properties with Choice Hotels' systems, programs, and resources—in less than 12 months. "There was a 10 percent increase in our learner population, virtually overnight," says Jeneane Becker, dean of Choice University. "Integrating them quickly and effectively—while maintaining focus on competing priorities and initiatives—was critical to the acquisition's ROI."

The L&D team successfully navigated the first hurdle: meeting a tight deadline to transition to ChoiceU.com, the company's learning management system. "This required understanding how they had been delivering learning at Radisson, reviewing that content, and conducting numerous corporate stakeholder interviews to road map learning and resource needs correlating with the rigorous one-year integration schedule," Becker explains.

L&D also provided expertise and guidance on eight vendor-produced introductory videos as well as a 12-week cycle of weekly webinars. The team imported pieces of existing learning content from the original LMS, supplementing with additional content from the ChoiceU library.

For each evolutionary phase of the system and program, L&D offered learning content uniquely developed to meet integrating properties' needs, "helping them to bridge between previous and new systems and correlating what they already know/do to what they will need to know/do post-integration," Becker states. She explains that one example was when the company integrated Radisson Rewards Americas into the Choice Privileges program. "We needed to train on the similarities, the differences, and how to navigate the CP program, which would be new to RRA staff as well as their guests."


The new content offers a self-paced approach via videos, e-lessons, infographics, and webinars. "We heard from both hotel franchisees and corporate associates that the trainings we provided were invaluable to them throughout the integration process," Becker notes.

A global, curated methodology

The learning and organizational development team at Innova Solutions, a global information services company with 50,000 employees, faced a short deadline when Innova acquired seven companies, necessitating "the integration of new tools, learning content, and processes under one umbrella—all in a matter of a few months," says Akkshada Maniyan, head of L&OD.

"Given the speed at which Innova was acquiring companies and growing, our L&OD team did not have the luxury of methodically building and launching programs. Instead, we were building the airplane as we were flying it," Maniyan recalls.

Her team sought to create a learning plan for all employees, launch curated content to meet learners' needs, and measure learning and engagement for sustained impact. "We took an agile approach with a team of 30 instructional designers, facilitators, and dedicated learning business partners who worked collaboratively with 70 business \[subject matter experts\] to run a needs assessment, build content, and deliver engaging sessions—repeating this process six times over."

The L&OD function used a curative rather than traditional approach, launching 72 communications and behavioral programs through workshops, labs, facilitated activities, and gamification.


L&OD also led five leadership programs, Maniyan explains. "The audience was global, and we needed to launch \[the\] programs within the context of Innova and its unique entrepreneurial culture and mindset." She adds that the team leveraged a select group of facilitators and user interface and user experience leads to create an engaging in-person program.

The training initiative prompted widespread adoption of Innova's custom tools, higher proficiency in functional courses, and a 15 percent increase in overall favorability. "As a team, we've learned to be agile, proactive, mindful of business and stakeholder needs, and, most importantly, respectful of the learners' needs and constraints," Maniyan states.

A multipronged approach

The TD team at NewRocket, a global ServiceNow partner, confronted a challenge when the firm merged six companies into one. "One of the highest priorities was to create a learning culture rooted in continuous growth opportunities—not only to grow the business but to demonstrate our commitment to employees, partners, and clients," says Emily McQueen, vice president of performance and talent enablement.

The newly formed, virtual-based, 500-employee organization comprises legacy firms across different geographies, time zones, work cultures, and operational structures. "Joining as one team on one mission with shared core values, employee value proposition, strategy, and goals required a learning culture that helped navigate change, drive excellence in ways of working, and expedite the growth of certifications and new skills required for success," McQueen says.

The team took a multipronged approach. A course titled Messaging 101, which the company offered in an on-demand, microlearning format, "outlined how we communicate who we are to clients," McQueen explains. "We embraced the 'hero's journey' concept, placing the client as the hero in the narrative and positioning our company as the trusted guide in their journey against the adversary of constant change."

She notes that in addition to Messaging 101, "we rolled out programs on our new delivery methodology, our department structures and ways of working, and our performance practice" in on-demand, bite-size modules.

NewRocket's TD team expedited the alignment of global professional and managed services teams to one set of tools and processes in a delivery excellence program for higher customer satisfaction. "Centralized onboarding programs enabled us to rapidly grow a highly engaged employee base while increasing speed to productivity by 20 percent," McQueen states. "We quickly established Elite Partner Status with ServiceNow, growing our certification pool 31 percent by year-end," while maintaining an employee retention rate above external, postmerger retention benchmarks.

A collaborative response

For PPL Corporation, a recent acquisition of a regulated utility, now known as Rhode Island Energy (RIE), occurred concurrently with a broader technological transformation. The confluence of events created a greater need for shared services enterprise-wide, leading to PPL Corporation's Pennsylvania-based regulated utility, PPL Electric Utilities, working to integrate operations and systems.

Early work focused on incorporating RIE's learning into PPL Electric's LMS. One of the challenges was a lack of cross-company learning standards. "There were over 3,000 items in RIE's learning library," notes Patti Scaramuzzo, director of technical training at PPL Electric. "Courses and learning records were reviewed to determine if they were still valid, how to assign them in the LMS, and what content needed to be rebuilt."

The company used a digital adoption platform to guide employees in the company's new work management system. The change created an evolution of work, which meant learning and distributing training to keep up with the speed of change.

"With transformations occurring, leadership recognized the value of collaboration, giving birth to the OnePPL initiative," Scaramuzzo remarks, "empowering employees to break out of silos and better collaborate across companies."

With the new OnePPL mindset and three distinctly different cultures across operating companies, the company recognized that it needed management training. "PPL Electric was part of our initial group for new leadership training that provided fundamental tools to help management effectively build teams," says Natalie Piontek, director of talent acquisition and organizational development. "To date, we've trained 120 leaders with this program, focusing on company values and critical knowledge for new leaders."

Scaramuzzo encourages others navigating similar situations to embrace collaboration. "At first, there was hesitancy to collaborate across operating companies," she says. "But we found that the formerly siloed training organizations were longing to work together, and the company is now in a better place because of it.

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