Blending cultures in a merger–3 lessons from the Brady Bunch

Brady Bunch is like blending bank cultures; Photo from Wikipedia and ParamountMergers and acquisitions are increasingly commonplace in the financial industry. So if your institution is joining or acquiring another, what do you do to ensure a perfectly blended culture that leads to consistent brand and customer experience at all branches?

Look no further than the '70s-era TV show, the Brady Bunch for inspiration. Here are 3 takeaways you can use to get started.

make sure the only "steps" lead to the second floor
Recognize that at first there will be some awkward adjustments as people try to figure out how they fit into the new organization. Who's the new boss? What are my expectations? Questions will be many. Anxiety may rise.

In an early episode, Mom/Carol told Bobby that the only "steps" in their household led to the second floor. Her point: that the family contains no “stepchildren," only “children.”Brady Bunch full cast inspires banks blending their culturesThe Brady Bunch offers inspiration for banks blending their cultures. Familes, too! (Wikipedia Commons)

Set the tone that everyone is important and has something valuable to contribute in the new institution—no matter where they started.

Then clearly articulate their new roles. Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Help everyone feel like part of the team.

And just as important, expect them to treat others as teammates, not rivals.

be sure you have an Alice
Someone has to be the bridge. You need an Alice who connects everyone. In the Brady family, the housekeeper was often the neutral party who helped improve communications with a batch of cookies, a listening ear and some wisdom sprinkled with humor.

Someone in the role of Chief Heart Officer can make sure that your brand, purpose and people values are never overlooked while you’re working on implementing the new systems, software and procedures that are also so critical.

You don’t want a mass exodus of employees because of discontent and mistrust. That leads to dissatisfied customers as well. A proactive approach is always best. And if problems do arise, you’ve got someone ready to quickly address them.

create a catchy theme song
Perhaps you don’t literally need a song. But then again, it might set just the right tone. Or maybe it’s an internal launch party with a video, breakroom posters, social media, retreats or other special events. This isn't just black and white: bring in the emotion. What do you want to convey? Pride, patriotism, teamwork, overcoming the odds—invite people in so they genuinely feel part of your purpose.

Whatever the approach, if you inform and inspire while sharing what you want to accomplish, you’ll go further—faster.

An intentional and well-planned approach to building culture through shared activities and values-building will help everyone thrive. The song—and other creative strategies—bring the emotion and the rallying cry that brings people together.

Whether your blended institution is old-school like the Brady Bunch or more like Modern Family, it takes some effort to make it work. While you’re planning the functional details, be sure you’re working out the culture details, too. Don’t let them be an afterthought or customers and employees will feel the pain. You will, too.

To see a vintage episode, watch.


Yours, mine and ours? If you need guidance blending cultures for your new, improved institution, call Martha at 785.969.6203.

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