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Speech to Staff After Being Taken Over

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 7 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Takeover Speech Hostile Beneficial Staff

In today's lightening fast business environment it's not unusual for companies to be taken over and absorbed by other companies. When this happens it's important that any speech you deliver concerning the situation should motivate staff to work to the best of their abilities.

Is the Takeover Hostile or Beneficial?

The approach will differ depending on whether the takeover is considered hostile or beneficial by the company being taken over. If the takeover is hostile, perhaps being taken over by a stronger competitor, staff will need to be reassured that their future is safe.

If it's a beneficial one, where a large company is taking over a smaller one to provide investment funds and help growth, then it's easier to put a positive spin on the situation. But staff will still be concerned, particularly if they think the company coming in has a very different culture.

Set the Situation Out First

Give staff a clear picture of why the takeover has happened and what the company who is taking control have in mind. With a hostile takeover these can be tricky. If you gloss over issues people will see though it and wonder what you're hiding. But you must give an accurate picture or staff will lose faith.

  • Use positive language to describe the current economic environment, if it is a factor behind the takeover
  • Outline the immediate changes that are likely to happen, if you know them
  • Empathise with staff, tell them that you understand what they are feeling
Example: As you know all the companies in our sector are weak and this has made us vulnerable to a takeover (hostile) / We need investment to take the company to further success and Bloggs and Co will provide the money and the infrastructure that we need to do this (beneficial).

Explain What's Likely to Happen

You then need to move on to the medium term plans that the takeover company has for your products, facilities, and crucially, your staff. Be honest and if you don’t know, say you don't know.

But if you are party to plans but have been told that they are confidential, you will have to pretend that you don't know. If you say that decisions have been taken but you aren't allowed to go public with them yet then the only thing you are likely to achieve is widespread panic.

  • Recognise that the time ahead will have its difficulties
  • Emphasise that there will be opportunities for people (regardless of whether the takeover is hostile or beneficial)
  • Reinforce the value held in the staff, facilities and products.

Example: No decisions have yet been taken and as soon as anything is concrete I will make sure you know / Bear in mind that Bloggs and Co have spent a lot of money on this company and they aren't likely to throw away the people and products that made us such a threat to them (hostile)

Make Sure You Know What You Need to Say to Staff

It's very important that, regardless of whether a takeover is beneficial or hostile, that you think carefully abut the goals you want to achieve, the key points about the situation that you need staff to know, and those that you need to keep from them.

If you pay attention to these important issues the speech will, to a large extent, write itself.

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