Even though I am not living in Singapore, I do follow Singapore news every now and then to stay in touch with the current affairs of my origin country. One headline grabs my attention to Grab’s recent acquisition of Uber in Singapore.
Just a little background: Grab is a fierce competition against Uber in South East Asia and typically in a small country like Singapore, it is very hard to stay afloat vying for market share when the public transport is efficient (I lived in Kuala Lumpur where public transport is nearly nonexistent).
If you like to understand more on the acquisition of Uber by Grab, you can read more here.
So what makes me want to talk about this acquisition? Businesses come and go, mergers and acquisitions are common. Nobody should expect businesses to stay forever, even those good old ones like Toys’R’Us. So for Uber to be taken over by Grab is probably good business sense.
It’s the way they did it. Or the way they can’t be bothered by it. This resulted in 100 Uber employees stranded without a job, no announcement and was told to evacuate the office premises within 2 hours. It didn’t just affect the employees but the freelancing private drivers as well.
Oh wow! What a way to go after you slog hard for the company.
I have been through 2 acquisitions in my career. Once when I was first promoted as a manager and my very first project was to take over an existing school with existing teachers, administrative staff and students. While my boss took care of the paperwork, legal stuff and accounting details, I was tasked to handle the human side of things.
Meaning my job is to make sure that the transition didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings while cutting away the deadbeats that were costing the business. The second time I was involved in an acquisition was when my company was bought by a bigger telecommunications company. Already a manager of the customer service and telesales team, my role in the acquisition is to reassure the team under my care and to staff them according to both their skill sets and available headcount in the new company.
Both the times, the transition is smooth and the employees are handled in groups and during 1 on 1, with ample time given for them to collect their thoughts and raise questions before we proceed with the acquisition. The big day arrived with no internal surprise, everyone knows where they are going and in fact, excited to the new prospect.
Several points to take note if you are going through an acquisition:
- There are no silly questions so ask away when given the opportunity to do so otherwise, create such opportunities to have an open dialogue. You deserve to know what’s going on as much as the CEO of the company.
- Keep your fears and emotions in check. Understandably that you are afraid you might lose your job overnight but thinking and acting irrationally might not be a good thing right now when everyone including your bosses’ nerves is frazzled.
- Don’t give in to rumours. Always fact check with higher authority when you heard something before passing on. It doesn’t help to spread fear and confusion when the future is uncertain.
- Keep your ears open for outside opportunities (if you are not already doing so, tsk, you should always keep your ears open) in case you are made redundant by the acquired company.
And if you are tasked to head the acquisition project on either side, please do…
- Openly address any issue raised by your team. An open dialogue with an open mind will dispel most fears and unease regarding the unknown.
- Consider that your staff are reasonably upset about the acquisition and apprehensive what it might bring.
- Be genuine and sincere when you announce the news. And please announce the acquisition news way before anyone else did. It’s even more upsetting if the staff is to find out about his company being taken over by his nosy neighbour or his overly concerned mother.
- Seek suggestions and opinions. Ask “What role would you like to be in the new company?” Don’t assume that they want to be doing the same roles as they are in the current company. Ask “How else can we make this transition easier for you?” Questions like these will allow the staff to open up his hidden emotions. He could be upset because he sees the acquisition as a betrayal of his loyalty to the company.
- Always have a Plan B. If the staff doesn’t want to go over, be prepare an exit plan for him. Don’t get caught off guard and of course, don’t assume he’ll stay just because it is business as usual even when you moved.
And that’s how a proper acquisition should be done.
Have you gone through a merger or an acquisition? How did you feel? What more could be done? What do you think about the acquisition of Grab by Uber? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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