How Do You Tell Your Employees that You Are Selling the Business?
Preparation is the key to making a successful announcement about selling your business. Like the leadoff hitter, who spends hours taking batting practice, studying the opposing pitcher, and perfecting his swing, the business owner must be well prepared when he steps up to the plate to deliver the news.
A key component of a smooth announcement is the timing. It is the difference between a home run and a foul ball. Swing too early, and you jeopardize the deal; too late, and the news could leak to employees who may react poorly. Once you have selected the most opportune moment to make the announcement, ideally when the transaction is imminent or complete, there are several essentials to keep in mind:
HAVE A GAME PLAN
The sale of a business can be unsettling for employees. They may fear for their jobs, worry about their financial security, and feel abandoned by the owners. The best way to address these issues is to offer a factual, professional presentation that is comprehensive and well crafted.
The presentation should outline the timing of the transfer, information about the new owners, foreseeable changes, and any other details that are available and of interest.
Did we mention practice? Be sure to run through the presentation a few times to make sure your delivery conveys certainty, confidence, and reassurance.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
It is crucial that the employees feel supported and valued throughout this process. As their boss, at least for now, you must address their concerns and uncertainties with compassionate leadership and clear direction. Listen to their questions; respond with transparency and honestly.
The announcement should be framed in a positive light. Emphasize opportunities that may arise as a result of the sale; highlight aspects of the new owners that may generate excitement, innovation or untapped revenue potential.
INTRODUCE THE NEW LINEUP
When the time is right, organize a meet and greet for the new owners and the employees. This is not a “one size fits all” arrangement; the format should reflect the personality and management style of the new team, and should also take in to account personnel, the history, the circumstances and the culture of the company. Based on these factors, the gathering may occur during the initial announcement, at a formal corporate meeting, at a tailgate picnic, or something in between.
A WALK OFF HOME RUN
The sale of a business is an exciting time. It demonstrates a significant professional achievement and hopefully, delivers a financial reward to the owners for many years of hard work. Ensuring that news of the sale is conveyed in the optimal way brings security and ease to the employees, which helps to preserve the value, health and success of the business.