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Managing hostile takeovers: management strategies for businesses in times of change


Malcolm Turnbull’s hostile takeover of Australia’s top job this week shines the spotlight squarely on the issue of leadership changes. No doubt, Mr Turnbull’s path ahead will be met with numerous challenges and overcoming them will test his leadership and management abilities like never before.

Mr Turnbull’s party members will be experiencing many of the same emotions and challenges employees of a business feel in a ‘takeover’ situation. And like a new incoming business owner, Mr Turnbull must be ready to defuse the tension as he asks his team to follow him in a new direction.

To complicate matters further, close to half of Mr Turnbull’s party were against the move to begin with, making them potential obstacles on his path to success.

While running a country is not exactly the same as running a business, a number of similar leadership and management strategies apply in helping a nation and a business navigate through times of change. Here are five people management strategies for businesses to help retain top talent, deliver growth and capture the hearts and minds of your customers and audience even when the business is undergoing major change such as in the case of a merger and acquisition or takeover.

Tip 1 – Act swiftly

Although it may have taken months of preparation and negotiation in order to seal a deal or transfer ownership of a business, once executed, time is no longer your friend and it needs to be used wisely. It’s important to now focus exclusively on forming a strong management structure that will help unite the team behind a common goal.

Tip 2 – Steady the ship

Fears about job security, changing work arrangements and the future are all normal feelings employees have when such drastic changes occur in their workplace. Make it top priority to address concerns and insecurities and minimise uncertainty immediately.

To do this, engage staff as soon as possible and announce the new leadership team. Ensure there is clarity in the company vision, and manage possible cultural and philosophical differences by putting in place an inclusive consultation process.

Tip 3 – Leadership alignment

Once the new management team is in place, it’s important to rally everyone around the new mission, vision and strategy. Conducting one-on-one interviews or meetings with key members of the new management team is one good way to understand each individual’s interests, priorities and concerns.

Alternatively, a ‘leadership summit’ can be used as a platform to influence the team as a group. This could also be an opportunity for the individuals to talk about positive aspects of the transition.

Tip 4 – Communication and influence

If internal communication wasn’t hard enough, managing external, unfavourable media coverage when a business is undergoing a major transformation or ownership change can have a negative influence on your team and hurt your reputation.

During these times, it’s imperative to establish a clear, timely, transparent and consistent communications with all stakeholders to prevent or even reverse any negative perceptions.

Tip 5 – Recognise that you can’t control everything

Even with the best planning and preparation, chances are, as a business leader, you will still come across many unforeseen challenges when the business is undergoing major change. Recognise that not everything will be in your control.

In times of uncertainty, it’s important to lead with a calm nature and tackle challenges with confidence and composure. Demonstrate to the team that you are the right person for the job and that they backed the right horse.


About the author:

Martin Martinez is the CEO of TheBoardroom.com – a mentoring, business advisory and support service for existing and aspiring CEOs, business owners and senior executives.