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Thinking about your people

Updated: Jan 12

When you own and operate a business, most often your team are so much more than just employees. Maybe you’ve cuddled their babies when they’re tiny. You celebrated and mourned with them as life’s triumphs and vagaries make themselves felt. You might have slipped them some cash when they’re on the bones of their backsides and allowed them to take paid leave when they don’t have any owing. They might have been at your place for barbeques and Christmas parties and their kids might know yours. Your people have been your greatest asset and sometimes your greatest liability, but no matter what, your business wouldn’t be what it is without them and even though all the risk and worry has been yours, they feel embedded on many levels.

You can do yourself, your team and any prospective owner no greater service than honouring the team by keeping them fully informed, actively encouraging them to step up and showcase any latent skills and talents that could benefit the business in the future and finally, leave them feeling valued and secure. Engage your people Your team might love you. Your team might hate you. Obviously better if it’s the former, but either way, when the boss says he/she is thinking of exiting the business, team members tend to slip pretty quickly into a state of “what does this mean for me?” They may well care about your future but nowhere near as much as about their own. Some, often the best ones will turn to thoughts of getting out and securing themselves a solid role elsewhere as a risk mitigation. Others, often the least performers will dig in, keep their heads down and hope that they’re going to be ok. Both of these reactions are damaging because they demonstrate that the status quo cannot hold and for a potential buyer, the risks look unacceptable. If your intention is to provide a potential buyer with a stable, engaged and motivated team, you need to put some real time and effort into bringing your team close around you, enthuse them with the possibilities for the business under new leadership and excite them with the prospects of what might be in it for their own career progression. Engage your other stakeholders It might seem counter-intuitive to start conversations around you exiting your business. It may feel like you are making something public that should be kept private. For commercial sensitivity reasons, so competitors don’t feel like you are vulnerable to being attacked in the market. So your customer base don’t get spooked and look elsewhere. The truth is, made-up stories and rumours have circled the globe before the truth has put its’ shoes on and if you adopt a positive and constructive approach to sharing news of coming change, you can set the tone for what others will think. You’ve built this business that the stakeholders have their thoughts about. Some of those feelings will be about the products and services and some will be about the people and relationships. By making it clear that you are determined that the best of now will be protected and maintained and that the future will be about taking it to the next level is a powerful narrative. Contact us for a confidential conversation. Exit Strategy Group

Burton Worth: +64 27 266 4492 Hugo Sandall +64 21 64 64 50


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