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How did you tell your team? HINT: Transparency

January 05 2021

Contributed By: Chris Martin, Managing Director, Food Tech Group

in this edition of our Q&A style series, former Tibersoft CEO and Founder Chris Martin talks about being acquired by CSI/Volaris.

There is no text book way to tell your team the company has been sold. Looking back on it, the hardest part was putting myself in the shoes of each of the people that made getting to this point even possible. Not that it’s hard to look at it from another perspective, but there are a hundred other things going on to distract you: getting the data room filled, answering additional questions, planning the transition, etc.

Telling your management team may not be hard either. They’re likely closer to the action and may already know at least part of the story. Our biggest concern was the individual contributors who were not aware we were involved in a process and might take the message badly. It was important to get the messaging right and help everyone know that it was going to be OK…that they were going to be OK.

“Looking back on it,

the hardest part was putting myself in the shoes of each of the people

that made getting to this point even possible.”

We started by saying that we made the best choice for the company and, therefore, for them. Tibersoft continues to have large enterprise clients that value stability. These enterprise clients would be concerned if the direction of the company were to change without their input.

People want to know if their job will be affected. In this case, Tibersoft would remain an independent business unit. The independence of the deal allowed the management team to firmly say “we are not changing anything”. Looking back, we did not make any changes that we would have made anyway. And thankfully we didn’t have anybody leave because of the acquisition either.

There was no big splash company meeting. All hands on deck meetings make it more difficult to identify negative reactions. Not saying you shouldn’t do it. Maybe your culture has always been that way. In our case, to ensure the message was delivered with integrity and authenticity, we steadily worked the communication through each group within the company.

I will expand on this in a dedicated blog post but later, once people are comfortable that they will be valued, we were able to have much better career planning and succession management conversations. These are HR habits that are easy to put off in a small company,

Bottom-line: regardless of the exact process, transparency and honesty make your personnel feel valued in a time of confusion and uncertainty, and reduce the risk of unexpected departures.