In my time as an employee, manager, and leader, I’ve had the pain and privilege of being on both the positive and negative sides of change. However, no change is as anxiety-producing as your company being acquired by another! Do I still have a job? For how long? What is my job now? What new stuff will I have to learn? Who’s my boss… my “Real Boss”? What’s our new mission, culture, rules, priorities, our customer base, etc. I could go on, but you get the point! Through the positives and negatives of an acquisition, there are several groups… The Acquirer, The Acquired (I’ll be referring to them throughout this Leadership Concept), the people that are happy about it, “The Miserable” (most likely they’ve been miserable anyway), “The Doers” (I’ll share more about them in another blog), the people that are leaving, and “The Panicked”. There may be more groups, but this is the gist of it and you may find yourself as one of them or all of them depending on the day… or the hour! Today I’m going to focus on The Acquirer and The Acquired but no matter what group you find yourself in… burn-out, frustration, anxiety… along with excitement, growth, and possibility are all thrown into a professional blender! So, what to do?
Let’s first define the two major groups! “The Acquirer”, is the company buying out or taking over another company. Sometimes changes are made fast, sometimes slow, and in a perfect world… The Acquirer would look at the positives of the company they bought and implement some of those positives moving forward; blending the greatness of their company with the greatness of The Acquired. However, that’s not always the case… as The Acquirer has their own Leader’s 3 they expect to be adopted… Their Company Vision & Vision Factors, Expectations, and Rules.
“The Acquired” is the company that was bought and faces the most stress of lay-offs, stress, change… but also the possibility of massive growth and opportunity as leaders and employees get to work for a bigger company, serve a wider population, and learn a variety of new skills! Now that we’ve defined the two main groups, what are the 3 Keys to leading through the grind and the possibilities?
Reveal & Accept!
“Reveal” is the R. of my H.U.R.T. Leadership and it means at some point, leaders must reveal new information that may initially hurt an employee, team, or organization. It’s “The Acquirer’s” job to reveal the new information of the company, as well as the new Mission Statement and Leader’s 3 to the acquired company and its employees. This will come in many forms; as different employees best receive information in different ways:
- An intimate, yet formal meeting with “Acquired’s C-Suite” to share Mission, Leader’s 3, important factors, and brainstorm possibilities!
- Another meeting with the Middle Management of “The Acquired” as they are the real face of leadership for the Front-Line Employee… the foundation and pulse of your company and the real culture of your organization!
- A wedding of the companies for “Acquired” employees to attend to establish a “Universal Us” rather than the separation of “Us vs. Them” mentality!
- This can all be done in-person, virtually, via email, pre-recorded videos, and dropped off in the old school employee mailbox… remember, just when you think you’re doing too much communicating is when they’ve just started to hear you!
Ultimately, Revealing and Acceptance come down to “The Acquirer” stating, “This is a new day and I understand there is an array of feelings that come along with it… some positive, some negative, and some you don’t how to describe! I like to thank everyone, from both companies, for all the magnificent work that’s been done for us to get to this point and we will continue to be elite and evolve. We look forward to doing it with all of you; however, I understand the new way may be great for some, not for some, and anxiety-producing for others. If you’re all in, that’s wonderful and we’re happy to move forward with you. If you have questions, please ask and be mindful to vent to someone that can actually help you; as a more informed and positive employee is a better employee. If this is not for you, it’s unfortunate; however we make to help you with your transition as you’re truly valuable not only as an employee but as a person and we want to help you and your family land gracefully at your next professional opportunity. With that said, IT’S A NEW DAY and we’re eager to be of impact to you, our customers, and the world!” Feel free to make this statement more of your own!
When delivering information to people that cannot control the change, I have a few rules:
- Educate them on how it’s great for them!
- How it’s great for the company!
- How it’s great for the customer!
- Effectively Train them!
- And Follow-Through with the expectation to be elite!
Lastly, as for “The Acquired”, acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like the changes. However, leadership is about how you digest and accept evolution. THIS is happening and leaders live in the positives and manage the negatives! What’s great about the acquisition for you, the company, your customers, and your future? If the answer is nothing and you’re truly miserable or you can clearly read the writing on the wall that this is not the place for you… you don’t have to argue, vent, and gossip poorly about a place you’ve decided to leave. No sense arguing with someone you’ve decided to break-up with, right? DO your best, BE your best and leave on a great note with a glowing letter of recommendation with habits of excellence and ready to go for the next lucky company to acquire your services!
A Leader’s Priorities!
I’ve had the pleasure of conducting Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings for recently acquired companies worldwide and one of the most common complaints is, our people no longer know what projects are most important and who to report to!
As “The Acquirer” be clear regarding the chain of command and the authority span of leaders and employees… how far can they go without having to check in! As “The Acquired”, request clarification when necessary of who to report to, ask what your authority span is due to change, and if there’s anything you need to know, tweak, or change regarding the new way of doing things. Beating “The Acquirer” to the punch will say a lot about your leadership, your willingness, and help to enhance your work/life harmony!
During my Evolve & Lead Training Program, I share The Leader’s Priority Quadrant… and this tends to be a point of contention through the process of acquisitions. The quadrants are:
High Priority/Handle Now
High Priority/ Handle Later
Lower Priority/Handle Now
Lower Priority/Handle Later
This can be hard enough and fluid enough without an acquisition… let alone after two companies with two different ways of doing things, different rationales, and different processes come together! Therefore… it’s important at the Senior Leadership level AND at individual team levels each team know what’s in each quadrant, if the contents of the quadrant have changed, why, and what constitutes the timeframe of “Now” and what constitutes the timeframe of “Later”? This may be reviewed in daily meetings, regular meetings, and your 1-on-1 Meetings as it keeps all of the groups I mentioned at the start on the same page!
A Leader’s Help!
This is true for all organizations, but especially through acquisitions and mergers… “The Acquirer” enhances their leadership, their reputation, and the Leadership & Work/Life Harmony of their people when they’re willing to HELP their people Stay, Leave, Transition, and Live!
Help to Stay – Help your people stay by paying well when you can, offering various compensation packages, speaking their professional language, sharing ways they can stay where they are professionally if that’s what they desire or ways they can advance professionally within the company. The point is to get your old and new people together to celebrate, congregate, and collaborate with the goal of becoming ONE and elite!
Help to Leave – Some of “The Acquired” will stay, some will go, and some will have to be let go. For those that leave… allow them to leave with dignity and all the professional possibilities they can handle. I spoke with one company that helped their exiting employees find and apply for new jobs… creating a soft landing they could thank their old company for and potentially kick back even better fits for the organization while on the way out!
Help them Transition – Ways to transition have been sprinkled throughout this Blog. Remember, some have been promoted, some demoted, some are on new teams, living in new places, etc. Help the employees of “The Acquired” and those from “The Acquirer” transition into their new roles, relationships, and their lives. Do your people have the necessary leadership skills for all the new promotions handed out? Is there enough compensation, pay, incentives, etc. for people to stay or to hire? How will you lead those in transition to ensure you’re not adding to the already heaping pile of anxiety and stress of your people?
Help them Live – Work is important, but life is necessary! Your leaders and employees are people and as their stress goes… so does their relationships, their parenting, and their lives… especially with hybrid and remote work! What do your people enjoy doing outside of work and who do they want to do it with? Can you concierge that experience for them, some of them, all of them? I’ve recently partnered with Beebe Travel and they work to concierge family and personal vacations for employees through their job, concierge corporate meetings, and more! What about a car service for that hard-working employee that has to come into the office twice per week, a cooking or cleaning service for that single-mother or father working from home with three little kids all day? I could go on, but you get the point!
I hope you enjoyed the 3 Keys to Leading Through an Acquisition and I hope you, your leaders, and your people enjoy your evolution!!!
“Remember, just when you think you’re doing too much communicating is when they’ve just started to hear you… Be Mindful!” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Take the pain out of your organization by enhancing Leadership & Work/Life Harmony for your Leaders, Employees, and Team with Andre Young’s Leadership Trainings & Speaking Engagements! Click www.youevolvingnow.com to connect, chat, and customize an impact for your company today!!!