The previous two articles discussed the realities that will occur and the need to acknowledge employees’ feelings during an M/A discussion and possible transition. Independent of the open dialogue and sincere communications from senior management, feelings of anxiety, the fear of the unknown, will fill the atmosphere and become the new normal. It will impact some individuals far more seriously than others. It may also ebb and flow as information or misinformation travels through the organization at blinding speeds.
Some of these anxious feelings may be justified; some not. However, they will be present, and all managers need to be aware of what could be occurring either above the surface or deep down inside people’s heads and hearts. Below is a list of some of the more obvious and serious issues in the form of questions on employee’s minds.
- “I thought I could trust management; why are they even consider doing this to us?”
- “What is taking them so long to make a decision; I wonder how long they have been working on this without telling us?”
- “Why are they even considering making a change? The business seems to be going well.”
- “It just won’t be the same around here, the family atmosphere will be gone; we will be working with strangers.”
- “Why should I wait around, good swimmers jump ship first, maybe I should start looking now?”
- “I worked hard to get to where I am; I don’t want to be a little fish in a big pond.”
- “I enjoy being part of the team and being heard; I wonder if that will all change?”
- “I don’t like playing politics, but I had better get used to it, others will do it, so I must too.”
- “I’ll bet our titles will change, probably not for the better. I wonder about my compensation and our bonus program; I can’t live with a cut.”
- “I wonder how marketable my skills are, will I even be able to find another comparable job if I am terminated?”
- “I wonder how long it will take before we have to change our processes and the way we do business? I’ll bet they feel the same way. Who is going to decide and when?”
- “We grew up together, will the free sodas, flexible hours, PTO, seating preferences, window offices and all of the other perks we have and like be changed?”
- “When will I know if I even have a job?”
- “What will happen to my stock options and vesting; will I have to start all over?
When thinking about these almost certain employee questions, remember that logic is not persuasive. Responses such as, “Don’t worry, nothing has been decided yet” may be factually correct but will not change anyone’s feelings. This is a time for empathy, not rationalization. Listen a lot! Now, is the time to take extra time for people – your people!