Deploying purposeful thought leadership during an acquisition

A thoughtful thought leadership strategy can win the hearts and minds of employees during change.

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During Ragan’s Employee Communications and Culture Conference in Chicago last month, BMO Financial Group Director of Corporate Communications Ali Duncan Martin shared how the organization deployed a purposeful thought leadership strategy following an acquisition to win the hearts and minds of employees.

Here’s what we learned:

Codifying your purpose and goals

When BMO announced an intent to acquire San Francisco-based Bank of the West in 2021, Martin’s team knew it was time to get out in front of its strategy.

First, we had to build working groups and decide who was going to be responsible for what,” she explained. “My team is Corporate Communications, and we’re part of a broader group called Communications and Social Impact. CSI, we always say, it’s a really cool acronym.”

This list included:

“We were really focused on was employee communication, and how we’re going to leverage leader led communications to drive this massive change,” Martin said.

“And as we were working through these communication plans, BMO and Bank of the West are two separate and competing organizations. We weren’t allowed to speak directly to Bank of the West employees, everything had to go through legal channels. So there were lots of hurdles. But it was time to dive in.

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