Whats in it for me

Confronting “What’s In It for Me?” in M&A/Disruptive Transitions

In an earlier blog post (Make M&A & Other Difficult Transitions Work: Lead with Your Ears), I suggested a couple of communication tips for leaders interacting with employees in the midst of M&A and other disruptive organizational transitions.

I wrote, “A couple of tips for leaders in these kinds of (one-on-one or group) communications. Be prepared to “prime the pump” by having open-ended questions at the ready. These are questions that create space for expansive responses. Such questions invite the other person to jump in or keep going. In this context, consider open-ended questions such as, “How are you feeling about the transition?” “What could I do to better support you in this process?” “Do you have any specific questions I can answer?” Prepare a germane follow-up question or two to encourage the speaker to continue feeling good about being heard.”

It is EQUALLY IMPORTANT to address the question that will be on everyone’s mind: “What’s the outcome of this transition for me?” This is more commonly said as, “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” In the midst of transitions, the leader may know, or not know, the answer as to the specific person asking WIIFM. I believe a best practice is (or should be) the following: If the leader knows the answer–speak it kindly and honestly, good or bad. If the leader doesn’t know, say so kindly and honestly, with a best estimate of when the WIIFM will be known.

I once ran a distribution company where our products were sold by resellers who had made commitments to their customers on installation dates. If the product was going to be late, it was our responsibility to make it known as soon as we knew. As important, we had to make a revised commitment on a delivery date. If they had to tell their customer the product was late, for reputational and customer retention reasons, they had to be able to commit to a revised install date. If no “product” the next best thing was “information.” Their customer could then decide to stay the course or cancel. But at least the option was there. Generally speaking, this was accepted as a reasonable alternative (at least until the commitment date arrived).

If the leader delivers the “I don’t know where you will come out in this transition” message, the employee has information to be able to make their own choice about staying or leaving. This may be the best and only comment the leader can make, and whatever else–the leader is seen as showing up in integrity. ~Will Keiper, co-author (with Steve Chandler) of The Leader and The Coach–The Art of Humanity in Leadership, now available for pre-order on Amazon.

#leadership #leadershipcoaching #businesscoach #coachingleaders #leadershipdevelopment #leadershipexcellence #merger #mergersandacquisitions

The Leader & The Coach by Steve Chandler & Will Keiper
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