NEW YORK, February 8, 2011 Companies are underutilizing frontline managers in key phases of the integration process in corporate transactions, according to a recent study by Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). This creates a more difficult transition for employees, with consequences like turnover of key talent, disengagement and reduced productivity, indifferent or even hostile customer service, and greater incidence of errors or waste.

The Towers Watson study, involving more than 700 managers worldwide, examined the role managers at all levels play in the change process in an acquisition, merger or other corporate transaction. It found that companies generally are not doing a good enough job of engaging and mobilizing frontline managers, despite widespread acknowledgement that they are a particularly crucial element in bringing employees successfully through a transaction. When managers are insufficiently prepared and equipped to help employees, this can lead to ambiguity and confusion, resulting in disengagement and needless loss in productivity.

"Every deal is unique, and therefore each company's approach to people transition must be equally individualized," said Mary Cianni, Towers Watson's global leader of mergers and acquisitions. "What is consistent, though, is the need for companies to look beyond senior leadership — and engage and mobilize lower levels of management, because those are the people who are key to sustaining employee engagement and performance. Frontline managers can either be the greatest asset — a multiplier of engagement — or one of the greatest detractors."

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