Yesterday was an interesting day. One company made some announcements that rippled through many people and organizations. The announcement should not have been that significant and certainly was not unexpected. What was unexpected were the reactions and perspective of those who received the communications. These varied across the gamut of possibilities.
The company has recently grown by acquisition. Whenever an established company acquires another company, there are likely to be many points of overlap, particularly in terms of personnel. In the time leading up to an acquisition and afterward there is a bit of nervousness, especially in the absence of communications. This often leads to questions and innuendo with few answers or voices of authority. It is usually a very difficult time for all, especially those in the acquired company. They have business acumen and know there must be change. Processes related to the change fight with feelings of loyalty and in some cases loss for the old company. It is also a loss of a comfort zone which triggers responses, thoughts and actions related to natural needs for security.
All companies and people who work for those companies will go through similar issues whenever change is implemented, whether desired or forced. How leadership handles communications makes all of the difference in the world.
Inform – Information creates a knowledge based feeling and takes away many questions, concerns and distractions. Does it mean that you need to communicate every detail? No. You do need to give enough information to give confidence that there is forward movement, trust in the processes and a mutual respect of knowing that no one functions well in the dark.
Set a Time Line – If you are hoping to have your new organization in place in three months, set the stake in the sand well beyond that date. It is okay to meet an objective, early but not having a time frame basically stalls business, decisions and initiative. It also creates a field day for your competitors to work on the lack of knowledge and timing. Most people, having a date in mind, will not make alternative decisions or be side-tracked by competitive pressures and invitations.
Stay Focused – Lack of communications and forward moving activities will cause people to lose focus. No matter what change is taking place, you have to keep business moving which means that there has to be the feeling of mission. If nothing has replaced the old mission, hurry up and wait has a tendency to fill the void. Hurry up and wait generates no dollars.
Use Talent – In most cases there are talented people on board who are used to making valued contributions and doing meaningful work. Being idled, involved in pure busy-work or not able to do anything which really uses their talents breeds discontent and literally changes people from being valuable to the organization to being agents of doubt and concern.
Stay in the Lead – Perhaps one of the greatest challenges is becoming so involved in the processes of change that you are working in your business rather than on your business. Leadership has to carry the flag, help people see a viable mission and keep the wins coming. If the leadership position is relinquished because you are “busy,” it is very costly to regain.
Luck does not come in having all of the cards it is in how you play your cards.