Effective One-on-One Meetings: How to Drive Team Harmony Post-Acquisition - Acquira

Effective One-on-One Meetings: How to Drive Team Harmony Post-Acquisition

What You’ll Learn:
  • Why you need to fix one-on-ones with your new team
  • What to do before and during a one-on-one meeting
  • What to discuss during 1:1s with your new employees
  • Quick do’s and don’ts for workplace one-on-one meetings
  • How to use 1:1s to turn employees into positive change initiators

Introduction

Acquisitions are great; they open up opportunities for success for the seller and acquisition entrepreneur. But acquisitions aren’t always a rosy transition for employees, who sometimes do not get the appropriate level of attention in the deal.

Your employees are assets with unique skill sets and personalities. They can present tremendous value to the business entity as a whole.

In spite of this, some acquisition entrepreneurs fail to understand the importance of nurturing a connection with the employees post-acquisition. And this is likely a contributing factor to the 70% to 90% of mergers and acquisitions that fail drastically.

After the acquisition, no matter how smooth the transition is, there’s no denying the fact that there’s been a significant change. And the existing employees need to be guided through it.

For this to happen, you have to close the gap between management and employees with effective one-on-one meetings.

One-on-one meetings at coffee breaks, lunchtimes, or just walking the halls can help clear the air between new leaders and employees of the organization.

What is a One-on-One Meeting?

The one-on-one meeting (sometimes called a one-to-one meeting) is a dedicated meeting arranged between two people, usually a manager and an employee. In its essence, 1:1 is an effective communication tool often used in business organizations for diverse purposes.

These open-ended conversations are often used to build synergy, resolve an issue, develop relationships with employees, communicate the performance goals and expectations, etc.

As an entrepreneur who has recently acquired a new company, 1:1 can serve as a great tool for communicating your vision and expectations. Besides, you can also use these meetings to acquaint yourself with new employees.

Why Should You Have One-on-One Meetings After Acquisition?

“Why should I arrange 1:1s after acquiring the company when I could just shoot a company-wide bulletin and be done with it?”

Because you’ll be missing out on vital connections that drive business success. Bulletins or newsletters are not sufficient for a new leader to get to know the talent behind the operation and communicate expectations.

This brings us back to the point that employees are assets of the company. Acquisitions present opportunities for positive change and growth for leadership as well as employees. But employees could suffer the trauma of uncertainty as the new leaders come in.

Employees could suffer the trauma of uncertainty as the new leaders come in.

Change is good but not always welcomed by the people. They have fears of losing a job as layoffs usually follow these changes.

For instance, 6000 employees of Gillette were in fear of being abandoned after Procter & Gamble purchased Gillette in 2005. However, P&G managed to keep 90% of the top managers by offering jobs and enlisted employees for the value they’d brought to the company: connections with customers, distributors, & suppliers.

These meetings come in handy for managing the human side of acquisition deals. These connection-building sessions have two-fold benefits for the organization: leaders & employees.

The 1:1s with employees improve the team performance, increase their motivation and relationship with leaders. After an acquisition, the satisfied and motivated employees will be more productive and act as change agents for the reorganization process.

The 1:1s with employees improve the team performance, increase their motivation and relationship with leaders.

The organization also benefits from the healthy 1:1 sessions of leaders with employees. The cultural understanding, organizational goals, and overall performance have improved in organizations where higher management has regular 1:1 meetings with employees.

Guidelines for Effective One-on-One Meetings

One-on-one meetings can be the ice breaker between the acquisition entrepreneurs and newly acquired companies.

But if disorganized and unmanaged, these can further increase problems in developing relationships with employees. Therefore, entrepreneurs planning to leverage the power of 1:1s must make these sessions effective and productive.

Before the Meeting

Make sure to complete your homework before getting on the table for a one-to-one session with company employees. Make sure to have the following arrangements before the meeting:

1. Schedule the meeting and communicate it

Do not rush to call your employees to have a one-to-one meeting at your convenience. It will send a message that the new leader might be too insensitive to the employees. Instead, prepare yourself for this interaction with the employees. Make them feel that they and their suggestions are still valuable in the organization.

Ask the employees about their availability, check yours, and schedule a meeting at the mutually agreed time. It will communicate a message that new management is willing to build a connection with the employees. It is the first milestone of reorganizing the human side of your newly acquired company.

2. Set an agenda for the meeting

Since you’re arranging the 1:1 to build a relationship with the employees, communicate your expectations, vision, change management, etc. However, don’t rush to the business things immediately. Set an agenda for the meeting where you can know about your employees.

Ask them about their future goals and organizational perspective, and gradually build the discussion to the point where you can communicate your concerns and objectives.

3. Complete your homework about discussion points

Prepare a plan of action according to the agenda of your 1:1 with employees of the newly acquired company. Ask them about personal stuff and how they’ve been working toward their goals to bridge the communication gap.

Being the new owner of the business, you should not sound vague to the company’s employees. Complete your homework about the discussion points. Be firm on your stance, vision, and objectives without being imposing. Instead, your discussion should be built on facts, logic, and ground realities.

During the Meeting

At the time of the meeting, take care of the following things:

1. Minimize the distractions and be fully present

Discussing in a noisy place or with too many distractions around will frustrate both parties. The first thing you’ve got to do is choose a peaceful space where everyone is not peeking in.

Minimize other distractions like your phone or landline, laptop, etc. Give the impression that the meeting is a matter of great importance for you.

Give the impression that the meeting is a matter of great importance for you.

2. Greet in personalized way

A personalized greeting with questions about their day can be the first ice-breaker in your communication. Start with little details of your day and how you’ve been feeling to make the employee comfortable. You can also talk about current affairs to have a common ground of discussion to let your employees open up.

3. Ask employees about their expectations and objectives

As said earlier, do not rush to your expectations and objectives in a meeting. Instead, give your employees a voice. Ask them about their career goals, objectives, challenges they’d been facing, and what they expect from the recent acquisition.

4. Discuss the challenges and your expectations

After hearing them out, it’s time to discuss your agenda, challenges, and expectations of the company’s employees. If you play your card rights, you can leverage the opportunity to make employees change initiators instead of change resistors.

Leverage the opportunity to make employees change initiators instead of change resistors.

5. Express your gratitude

Do not hesitate in showing your gratitude toward the employees for being a productive part of the business entity. Your words of affirmation have a powerful impact on the employees. It will boost their self-image and how they feel about themselves as a part of the company.

Do’s and Don'ts of One-on-One Meetings

Besides the roadmap of having a productive one-to-one meeting, here are a few things you must adhere to.

Do:

  • Always start with a positive note, either it is an achievement, gratitude, or an opportunity.
  • Always schedule the meeting with mutual consensus and the availability of your employees.
  • Give every possible opportunity to the employee to speak. Give them an ear to share their concerns, challenges, goals, and expectations.
  • Show enthusiasm during the meeting to make the employees feel elated.

Don’t:

  • Never cancel a meeting just before time. It is equal to abandoning the employees. It will also give them a sense that they’re just boxes on paper for the company that can be erased or checked at convenience.
  • Show flexibility to adapt and have an out-of-the-box discussion. Don’t be too rigid about your plan and agenda.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of showing gratitude. Thank them for coming to make them feel valued.

Where Should You Have Your One-on-One Meetings?

As top management, you can arrange the 1:1s with employees and teams in the conference room. Making it to the cafes at coffee time and lunch breaks can be an icebreaker and make employees feel more comfortable about sharing their thoughts.

How Often Should You Have 1:1s with Employees?

As much as possible without affecting productivity. Do not question yourself about having a weekly meeting, bi-monthly or monthly meetings. The important thing is having the practice of 1:1 inculcated in the organizational culture.

Later on, you can decide about the frequency of meetings depending on the need for collaboration and having mutual understanding and agreement about goals.

Having formal meetings biweekly and casually on a daily basis can increase the harmony in the work environment without disturbing the discipline. To cut it short, do not miss any opportunity of having one-to-one meetings with your employees. 

Sample Agenda for Your First One-on-One

This is an example of a 1:1 meeting agenda that’ll help you set the foundation for a productive and blissful working relationship with your new team:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your aspirations—professionally and personally?
  • What gives you energy, and what drains it?
  • How did you feel about the sale?
  • What would you like to talk about with me? How can I help you?
  • What do you expect from the new leadership?
  • How are things usually done here?
  • If there is one thing you could change about the company, what would it be?
  • Let’s talk about why and how we’ll do more of these meetings.
  • Anything else you’d like to talk about today?

Conclusion

There are a lot of things on your plate after you’ve recently acquired a new company. However, you should not ignore addressing the human side of the deal and make every effort to bridge the gap between employees and new management.

Effective one-to-one meetings not only work as an ice breaker but also shape the future relationship of management with the employees.

If managed effectively, the conversations of new leaders with employees will not only fade the ambiguity and uncertainty but will also pave the path of reorganization and change that is simply a part of acquisitions.

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