Selling your business is a major decision, and the actual process is an epic feat. But the sale is just one component. As the transaction approaches, you’ll need to tell your employees the news. A few simple strategies can help you effectively and efficiently communicate your decision:
Develop a Clear Transition Plan
You need a plan for how you’ll manage change. Don’t just walk out one day and announce you sold the company. Understand that change is a process, and that your staff must have time to prepare. A number of change management plans can help, as can an organizational consultant.
Include a Core Group Early
In any well-run business, there is a highly knowledgeable group of staff who should know about the sale early. Who they are varies with the company size and specifics. It usually includes the executive and management teams, as well as your key staff members.
Getting early buy-in from these organizational leaders is key to a well-run change process. You must help your team see what the merger offers them, so that they can then communicate this to the wider team.
Don’t Reveal the News Too Early
Some owners, swept up in excitement and a spirit of inclusivity, want to tell the whole team as early as possible. But the deal can fail. You might choose a different path, and your plans may change. Moreover, due diligence can take months. Don’t share news about a potential sale before you have useful information to provide, and before the sale is a sure thing. This can trigger declines in performance and morale. Employees may even jump ship.
Identify and Address Potential Roadblocks
Depending on the post-sale plans, the process of sharing the news can become more or less challenging. A strategic buyer may eliminate lots of overhead, and therefore more team members. Staff who think they may lose their jobs may be less cooperative.
If your integration plan includes eliminating redundancies, one goal should be to give everyone a chance to prove their worth and make their case to the buyer. Of course, it’s not always possible for all roles to remain in price. So devise your plan accordingly.
No Shock and Awe
Don’t change your culture through sudden announcements, dramatic interventions, and aggressive change. Organizations can become completely different places to work when they change ownership. Be mindful of this, and know that dramatic cultural shifts can doom a merger. Your employees deserve to have a workplace they enjoy, so if the change is going to spell doom for them, you must acclimate them slowly.
As soon as you begin negotiating a purchase agreement, you need a team in place to map out the change management plan, promote acceptance, and move toward adopting changes necessary to support the new corporate culture. The more gradually you can introduce your team to the changes that will be necessary, the more likely it is that they will be willing to stay on board and give the merger a chance. That means a successful merger, and happy deal parties on all sides.