- There is no such thing as over-communicating. Communication among your team during the acquisition process is crucial to rapid and functional decision making. People often forget to share information or erroneously assume that everyone is in the loop. Send a weekly update email out to your team or schedule a recurring progress call.
- Communicating is a mix of giving and taking. Listening is a key component of communication. Pay attention to the concerns of various stakeholders. If someone cares enough about something to share it with you, don’t dismiss his/her concern. Show respect and keep quiet. In M&A, the listeners are often top executives who have a valuable set of skills. The downside to dealing with those in leadership is that they have developed a long-standing set of assumptions. M&A, however, is all about handling the unknown. Good listeners are able to relax their assumptions, process information critically, and consider new possibilities.
- Respond quickly and meaningfully. Respond to emails and other communication as fast as you can, but make sure that you are actually communicating and not just trying to throw the ball back into the court of the other party. If you can’t respond meaningfully to something in a short amount of time, make that your response -- “I need some time to check into your question; I’ll respond to you before the end of the day tomorrow.” Process information in emails instead of firing off a poorly contemplated response as soon as it hits your inbox.
- Explain your understanding. I’m working on the initial due-diligence phase of a deal right now, and the potential buyer asked my client for information that seemed beyond the scope of what would normally be requested at this time. I eased any potential frustration by picking up the phone, calling the potential buyer, and asking if there was something that they were having a hard time understanding, or why they otherwise felt that this information was important. Understanding the motivation for the request changed my client’s perception. We got a reasonable explanation and moved forward.
- Lists are your friend. Before calls or meetings, write down a few things that you want to make sure that you share. I bring a pad of paper with me into calls to help me stay on track. Especially in an acquisition, where there are many moving parts, it’s important to have a method for making sure that your position is clearly articulated.
Managing Expectations Through Clear Communication
Sep 14, 2015
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Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.