Work In The Present


To deal with fear and uncertainty during a period of change, focus on what you can control.

In my previous post, “Never Lie,” the VP of Sales told the company’s owner he heard that the owner was in the process of selling the company. He asked the owner if it were true and how it would impact his job and everyone else’s jobs. The owner’s response should always be, to tell the truth, with differences if there is a real deal in play or not. I made some specific suggestions for responding if there is a deal in play in my previous post. In most cases, your senior people will understand our industry is among those going through {another} period of consolidation, given all the emphasis on the “silver tide” * of baby boomers ready to sell or otherwise transfer their businesses.

As to what to say if there isn’t any active deal in the works, I would suggest you acknowledge the many opportunities coming at business owners these days. However, I would also explain that there is no point in going into detail or speculating about what may or may not be happening to the company if there is nothing in play. The reason we don’t explain what may be happening to the employees too early is that uncertainty causes a loss of focus and can create damage before anything really begins.

So, what else can/should you do?

Realize that people will be distracted by these kinds of events (whether they are true or not). Recall the Sphere of Control, Influence, and Concern concepts from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits books.

Your job is to lead everyone to understand, be energized, and remain focused on what they can control. Remind, Reinforce and Reward those that focus and achieve their goals. You may want to remind everyone that spending their time at work speculating about how a sale might affect them, how the rising interest rates will affect them, or how the war in Ukraine will affect them will not help them achieve something that they can control. Spending mental energy on making a customer happy, developing a new design, improving efficiency, cutting wasted time, and other similar efforts will result in real results.

While we all want to avoid the thought that we may have some problematic behavior among our team members, every owner’s response should be based on his employees and the culture in the company. Here are some other points to think about

  1. There is usually a small group of people who get involved in gossip, spreading rumors, missing deadlines, and ignoring phones, duties, or even customers! The best message for those folks is that everyone needs to stay focused on our work, paying particular attention to our own goals and deadlines. Distracted and unproductive employees are just calling attention to themselves as undesirable.
  2. If your company is being absorbed into another group, it is likely that there would be no job cuts for anyone working in customer-facing roles or on crews, if they are delivering the results. Unlike the old days of M&A in the 90s, companies are not buying others and slashing jobs to generate profit. Instead, they are looking to grow and will require high-performing people to be productive in new and exciting jobs.
  3. Senior managers are particularly important in delivering their best people who are focused on building the brand assets of market and customer relationships, especially in technical, customer, and marketing roles.
  4. The most likely jobs to be changed will be administration and support roles, especially if the skills required to do those jobs are easily found in the market.
  5. Everyone in the industry also knows that the lack of qualified employees for all kinds of roles in landscaping companies is a huge issue. This is a time when the industry and companies are recruiting, training, paying, and empowering employees.

Do you have any examples you’d like to share of this kind? I’d love to hear about them. (Confidentially, of course!)

Have you been thinking of selling to an external buyer or if you would like to explore your options for transitioning your company now or in the next few years, call me.

I can be reached via email: [email protected] or phone a: 224-688-8838.

We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!

* Silver Tsunami more business acquisitions Forbes

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio