An acquisition is very rarely smooth sailing from start to finish but, it is possible to complete the process with positivity and confidence. One of the biggest factors to manage is the human element. If you’re facing negativity from either side, here are a few tried-and-tested techniques to nip it in the bud and restore balance swiftly.
Put those rumours to bed
An acquisition is a source of much stress and anxiety for staff as many may naturally worry about job security or changes in working processes.
One of the worst causes of negativity is misinformation, so it is vital that you are honest and open with staff from day one to put any rumours that might be circulating about the impending acquisition to bed.
Being upfront with all staff members from the very start might be painful for some as they realise that their position within the company might change, but by taking the cloak and dagger approach to communication, you are leaving the situation wide open to rumours and potentially damaging misinformation with no solid basis in reality.
Sympathise with staff
For many of the employees who you are hoping to welcome into the fold following an acquisition, you may find that they are experiencing feelings of sadness and loss.
This could be down to some members of staff moving on to pastures new, redundancies of much-loved colleagues or simply mourning the old ways of working, but whatever the root of these emotions, it is important to recognise and sympathise with them in order not to cause further negativity.
Simply ignoring the feelings of any staff involved makes the management team seem cold and uncaring and creates an ‘us and them’ mentality. It is essential that you acknowledge their feelings and allow them an outlet for expression.
Once this is done, you can start to move on with the process and begin to nurture relationships firmly built on trust and understanding.
Focus on the positive
Once the dust has settled, it’s time to combat any lingering negativity with positivity.
You are undertaking an acquisition for a reason, and if you didn’t have the belief that you could improve the business and make it more profitable, you wouldn’t be going forward with your plans.
Communicating any improvements you are looking to make and how they will have a positive impact on staff is key to reducing any remaining negativity. Gather your teams together to let them know how you are looking to change things for the better.
You can’t win ‘em all!
Sadly, you are never going to get everyone to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to an acquisition.
Some staff are highly suspicious of change and stuck in their ways, which breeds negativity when faced with an acquisition that is bound to mean various processes and working procedures are open to reassessment.
Talking to these team members on a one-to-one basis can help you to discover if there is anything you can do to change their mindset, but in some cases, this simply isn’t possible.
If this is the case, work together to devise an exit strategy for the employee that may mean reassignment to a different department, role or even discuss the possibility for redundancy which will give them the power to decide their own path moving forward.
Also published on Medium.