For small businesses and franchise owners, it can be a challenge to manage change in the workplace. Even something as seemingly minor as a new shift schedule can lead to resistance and resentment from your employees.
If your business is in the middle of a merger and acquisition (M&A) deal, this means a major change for employees. Given how hard it is to manage any organizational change, many leaders choose to communicate very little until the deal is signed.
Some M&A deals are top secret. But if you’ve decided to tell your employees, keep them in the loop from the moment you start exploring options. It builds trust between you and your team, and it’s a great way to inspire leadership and motivation in the workplace.
If you want to maximize your chances for a successful deal, it’s important to regularly communicate an M&A with your employees. Here are three ways to do it.
How Should You Communicate an M&A to Your Employees?
1. Communicate from the Beginning
The more time you give your employees to process the M&A, the better off everyone will be. Remember that everyone adapts to change at his or her own pace. When you communicate the M&A early on in the process, you can get a better feeling of who’s most resistant to the change — and adopt a strategy to get them on board before they undermine the whole deal.
Once you break the news about starting the M&A process, don’t stop there. Make it a habit to regularly keep your employees updated on how the deal is going, including good news, setbacks, and even times when things are stalled. You may hold regular meetings that specifically talk about the M&A, or you may include a quick update as part of an existing team meeting.
Afterward, make yourself available for questions, both during the meeting and one-on-one to discuss any private or sensitive concerns from your employees.
If you’re not the best at keeping your team updated on the business, now’s the time to turn over a new leaf and improve your communication skills. Your employees will appreciate it, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful M&A transition.
Another advantage of communicating is that your employees will always have a better idea of how you’re spending your time. From due diligence to negotiating the funding, navigating an M&A deal will take a lot of time and mental energy if you want to succeed.
Therefore, when your employees understand how the deal is progressing, they’ll be more understanding when you’re not as available right now. If you’re not communicating progress about the M&A, your employees are more likely to interpret your absence as being less invested in the company now that there’s an M&A in the future. And that can lead to your employees jumping ship.
2. Address Rumors Directly
Even the smoothest M&A deal can take months to close, which means that there is plenty of time for rumors to spread around the office.
When you address rumors with your employees, be upfront about what parts of the rumor are correct, which parts aren’t quite right, and which parts simply aren’t true. And remember that the more you communicate the M&A to your employees in the beginning, the more they’ll trust what you have to say, even if they heard something else from someone else.
Keep in mind that, unlike high school, most workplace rumors aren’t meant to be malicious. Rather, they’re often the result of simple misunderstandings or assumptions — perhaps someone misheard a conversation or jumped to conclusions about how the M&A will play out.
As you practice your healthy communication skills and address rumors with your team, be understanding and avoid publicly shaming anyone from starting or spreading a rumor.
If it does turn out that there’s someone who’s deliberately spreading negative information to sabotage your M&A deal, have a one-on-one discussion with the employee and address any disciplinary actions privately.
3. Highlight What Won’t Change — and What Will
Most employees get nervous about M&A deals because they’re not sure where they will fit within the new organization — and even if there’s a place for them at all. During the M&A process, remind your employees which parts of daily life won’t change. If the M&A just means that your employees will be getting the same paycheck from a different company, they’ll be relieved to hear that. They’ll even be more likely to stay motivated and support you through the M&A process.
At the same time, don’t beat around the bush when it comes to communicating changes. Your employees deserve to know how things will be different, especially if there will be fewer positions or layoffs. Even minor changes like new working hours could mean that some employees will need to look for a new job to fit their personal schedules. In the meantime, you should also be prepared to handle short-term staffing shortages as employees move to new jobs.
Remember that it’s impossible to please everyone. While some employees will be as excited as you are about the M&A deal, others will be completely opposed to the planned changes. While you should respect their opinions and emotions, they should also respect your decision to move the company in a new direction.
If you can see that an employee is refusing to cooperate with the M&A process, politely (but firmly) let them know that you value their work, but that the new company may no longer be a fit for them — and you’d be happy to serve as a positive reference in their job search.
What’s the Secret to a Successful M&A?
Every successful M&A is different, but they all share one thing in common: communication. Open communication between leaders and employees helps move a successful company through a seamless M&A.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re partnering with a company that values your employees as much as you do. When you and your business join the Confie family, you’re sharing in our commitment to our people and culture. Get in touch with us today to learn more, or give us a call at (714) 252 2500.