What I Learned During A Major Acquisition
When we recently acquired a company, it was a brand new experience for me, and a stressful situation for all of the employees in their offices. Luckily, we found a company that shared similar values as our own, but they were still foreign to our management, processes and tools. My first time visiting them was like seeing a whole different world, and I realized that managing a remote team would not be easy.
A visit to their offices across the country was the first step – and a vital one. Seeing faces and nonverbal cues was critical to understanding how the employees really felt, and gave them the opportunity to connect and work with me and my team. We had the opportunity to see their offices, shake their hands and put faces to names. It’s also critical to meet in person and…You will have to travel.
You cannot underestimate the importance of being there in person with your new teammates and introducing who you are, what your intentions are and putting them at ease to the best of your ability. You want them to feel comfortable, welcomed and informed.
Be humble and learn from them, then figure out how you will get everyone on board.
The human factor and getting to know people is half the battle of the transition, and is much easier done in person than via phone or email. Face time isn’t always economical, but it is vital in building relationships. You can also utilize today’s technology around video conferencing if travel isn’t a viable option and it still offers a more personal touch than an email conversation.
Follow up often. Checking in is crucial to help build trust and comfort with your new team. After your initial, and potentially follow-up visits, make sure to keep in contact by setting up calls and checking in with your team members regularly to make sure the process is going smoothly. Getting to know your new team and their limits and personalities during the transition can save a lot of trouble down the road.
While you want to put them at ease, don’t over-promise anything – it will not be an easy transition and unfortunately these things don’t always come with security. You must be open and transparent with them to build trust and respect. Giving false hope or being deceptive about the situation is detrimental to the relationships and trust you want to create.
Teach and learn.
Every organization has a unique culture. Our company has very different processes than the company we acquired, so it was a huge learning curve for everyone involved. We made sure to create documents and videos to guide our new team through our process and learn our technologies, but first, we asked them to guide us through their process.
Mutual understanding goes a long way, and it’s also healthy to remember that just because we were the acquiring company doesn’t mean the way we do things is always right. Your new team could have a process or tool that works really well, so you never want to assume that your way is better.
Just because we were the acquiring company doesn’t mean the way we do things is always right.
Be humble and learn from them, then figure out how you will get everyone on board. Explain why you do things the way you do, or why you like it a certain way, then make a clear outline of your process and who will do what.
Continue to learn.
I can’t say we’ve done everything perfectly, but we have learned so much along the way. We chose to partner with this company for a reason, and we can’t forget that through the process. We are still learning from each other and keeping an open mind. It all comes back to first learning the people, then learning the process, and the rest falls into place.
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