3 Categories of Staff to be dealt with before selling your business

Part 1 the 3 categories

I have been involved in selling businesses in Europe Middle East and Africa for more than 20 years; I’m usually called in to enhance the value of the business to ready it for sale.  With the baby boomer effect there is a fair share of businesses for sale and more to come.  I have several success stories and as many bad ones especially in the early years and I thought that I could share with you some of my experiences.

Enhancing the value of your business can only be done by putting in place a team of people that would be able to work independently form you, manage risks and grow the business. You will only succeed if you recognise, early enough, that you are not indispensable and admit that your business can succeed without you. To avoid any emotions preventing you to do this, I recommend you call in somebody with a fresh eye to look at your business and manage the process. That person will have first to engage you and your people in a radical change of culture. To do so he/she will need to understand the 3 categories of people that you always meet in a business transformation situation:

1.  The Drivers:  Every time I have been involved in a business transformation situation I found a group of engaged, loyal, talented people who loved doing what they were good at but were frustrated by the poor level of decision making they had in the running of the business, the little freedom offered to them in making recommendation to mitigate risk or putting forward ideas to grow the profitability to enhancing the value of the business. They remained loyal to the company hoping things would change. These people will be the key to your success and the first thing a change leader needs to do is to identify some of them. They are easy to spot as they are eager to change and enthusiastic about new ideas.

2. The Opposers: These people would fight the smallest changes you would want to introduce every step of the way. They can do a lot of damage especially if they used to be decision makers, but fortunately they are normally a minority. Those people will be easy to spot as they are proud of the status quo and advertise that they know what is good for the company that any of your proposed changes have been tried and did not work. The problem is to have a damage limitation strategy in place and avoid fighting them directly as they would love it. More than often you would unfortunately have very little choice but to fire them very quickly.

3. The Followers: Most people will watch what is going on and will go along with whatever seems easiest. They understand that something has to change and they look forward to things improving.  They like being anonymous and are in a wait-and-see situation as they consider what you are trying to do as the “latest change initiative of the day”. The Drivers’ enthusiasm should be able to catch their attention and engage them in the change.

I will address how  people behave in the selling process next week in Part 2 of this article so if you are interested please check our blog next Wednesday

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If you envisage to transition out of your business in the near future and would want to explore what you should do please do not hesitate to call Jean-Bertrand de Lartigue on +44 1656 766 363 or e- mail him at JB@macint.co.uk

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