M&A Buyer: First Impression with Employees
If you haven’t coordinated with the Seller to make the M&A announcement together, you should get in front of the employees as soon as possible; no more than a few days should elapse between the deal closing and your meeting with the employees.
Before meeting with the employees, take the time to understand the local culture of the company. The way you and your colleagues do things may be different from the approach of the people at the newly acquired company. Seek out someone who has lived in the area and ask for some insights about the local culture.
You don’t want to pander to the employees, but you do want to demonstrate that you are aware of their customs and ways of doing things. Showing that you’re cognizant of someone else’s views, opinions, and sensibilities is a great way to begin building a relationship.
When speaking with the employees, act like a leader at all times because you’re going to be under a microscope. Although talking about your plans for the company is permissible and encouraged (even if those plans differ from the previous owner’s plans), refrain from bad-mouthing the former owner.
However, don’t go overboard and become cloying in your comments, either. Don’t dwell on the past too much. Move forward and focus on the future.
Business deals often succeed or fail based on how well an owner is able to connect with the employees. Demonstrating that you are a relaxed, confident, friendly leader with a sense of humor requires walking a fine line. You don’t want to be a stiff, jargon-spouting automaton, but you also want to avoid going overboard and becoming overly familiar.
Some people have that innate ability to connect with people and others don’t, so walking that line may be more difficult for some.