Post acquisition hangover? There’s a cure.

When I was talking to my daughter about writing about this topic, she asked me if I was familiar with a concept she recently learned in business school called Post Merger Syndrome (PMS). What an appropriate acronym. I had not heard about this, but I sure have lived through it. Generally, when I am writing about a topic, I tend to do some minor research on the subject, but only minor research, as I do not want to be significantly influenced by other people’s thinking on the topic.

Since I have worked at more than a dozen companies during my career, I have had the fortune of experiencing just about every aspect of the acquisition process. At one company I was at, I was on the executive team which was responsible for integrating acquired companies into the culture of the company. Since the company was on an acquisition spree, there were times I was working with 2-3 new companies and helping them to comfortably fold into being part of the acquiring company. As you might imagine, culture plays an enormous role in the success of blending companies, and I have written about the importance of having a strong company culture .

I’m often asked to comment on what is the most difficult aspect of the acquisition process. Hands down, I can tell you it is the post acquisition phase. Going through the acquisition phase is exhausting, and sometimes feels like it is never going to end, and often it does, but not because the acquisition went through, but because the acquisition did not come to fruition and go through the process successfully. There are so many factors which can stall out, or derail an acquisition, so the fact they do go through is sometimes just short of a small miracle.

Post any acquisition I have been through, there is both a huge sense of relieve, but also a sense of what I would refer to as a feeling like the air was let out of your balloon. Let’s face it, not everyone monetarily gains from going through the acquisition process, and yet there are many people who worked really long and arduous hours to make the deal happen. Then when the deal goes through, it’s back to reality, and going back to perhaps the flow of its just a job kind of feeling.

So, is it possible to either not experience a post acquisition hangover, or feel better post the acquisition than you did before the whole experience occurred? Sure it is, but there are some realities you need to be aware of to help you navigate through this. Here are my tips on how to either avoid your post acquisition hangover, or find the post acquisition remedy you might be looking for.

  • Post the acquisition, make sure you make time to personally celebrate the accomplishment. I’m talking about doing this alone, and taking time to be retrospective about everything you just went through to be part of making this process happen.
  • Doing a post mortem on the experience with the team involved with the acquisition process is critical. There are so many lessons which will be too easily forgotten or dismissed as lessons you learned, and which can help you to make the post acquisition process less taxing on you both mentally and physically.
  • Mentally and physically you need to build in time to take time to wind down from the acquisition Too many people I have seen have made the mistake of not doing this, and they do not last too long after the acquisition takes place in either the role they played, or the new one they took on. If you utilize the analogy of exercising, think of how it is just as important to warm-up as it is to cool down. This is essentially the same concept. Skip one of these, and you know what can happen.
  • Career and project based opportunities from the acquisition will be prevalent for those who are savvy enough to see them. Keep your eyes open for them, and don’t be shy about letting others know you want to leverage the opportunities which can work in your favor. Just be sure to clearly articulate how both parties can benefit from the opportunities you are capitalizing on.
  • Get to know and understand the culture of the team you either acquired, or were acquired by. It is critical to do this early on in the process, and to integrate the teams together. Using another analogy, it is similar to how families are blended together during a marriage. It takes time, and you have to work at it, and often you will need external help to assist with this process. Don’t rule out bringing someone from the outside to help you navigate through this. It can really make a difference.
  • Whatever you do, don’t become labeled as the chronic complainer who does not appear to be adjusting well to the acquisition. Adaptability and flexibility are going to be two of the greatest strengths to exhibit and possess post the acquisition. As the saying goes, become part of the solution.
  • Being associated with the company you either acquired, or were acquired by may or may not be a long term or ideal match for either one of you. Literally make a simple pros and cons list, and you will quickly see which one is the winner. Ideally give yourself a few quarters for the dust to settle on the acquisition, and then go through the pros/cons exercise. The list may have dramatically changed, and should give you a better sense of whether remaining at the combined company is in your best interest.

I hope some of these tips will help you, and let me know if they do. Or, let me know if you need some additional ones to help you with your challenge. By the way, congratulations to all those on the “other side” of the acquisition experience.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

 

 

 

Ten Reasons Being a Mature Worker Has Advantages

When I first began my business career, I rarely thought about what it might be like for me and where I would be working when I was 40 or older. I was so focused on what was directly in front of me, it was difficult to think too far ahead.

I knew I wanted to advance, but I did not have a vision for exactly what that meant. In speaking with many of today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings, I realized they have a better sense of having plotted out where they are headed.  Of course, this is not always the case.

In the last 20 years, society has put enormous pressure on younger people to know from an early age what they want to be doing in their careers. This is incredibly unfair and unrealistic. The decade immediately following college should be a time to explore various career options, travel, and obtain a better sense of your skill set as well as what you like and do not like to do.

By the time you reach your 30s, you have generally settled into an industry which you may or may not be satisfied with. You have also, by this time, hopefully have had an opportunity to work with people who are a variety of ages.

Unfortunately, if you are in the technology industry, you will not see too many people past the age of 50. Over 50, most are either a “C” level executive, or on the software development, testing, and customer support side of the business. Perhaps in non-technology industries you will have an opportunity to work with more mature colleagues. There is much to learn from them.

What most people do not realize is how valuable employees with years of experience are, or how to fully tap into their potential. Our society has done a decent job of on-boarding new and younger employees.  Where society has failed is knowing how best to leverage the talent of the workforce over 50.  Or 60.  Or 70.

Last week, I had an opportunity to witness an incredible team effort.  The average age of the people working together was around 70.  All of them were women. They worked for well over a month making homemade holiday gifts to be sold at a community fair. The proceeds were being donated to both the local school system, as well as the village church and community hall where the event was to take place.

When I walked in on the morning of the holiday event, where all of the incredible handmade items were on display, I felt as if I had been transported to a different and magical world. The sheer beauty of the handmade items was stunning. They were a testament to a team of people working together who had donated their skills and time.

Could a group of people who were younger have accomplished the same thing this group of women in their 70s, 80s and 90s did? Sure! Age should not be a limitation in either the workplace or in life if someone is determined to participate.

However, due to age discrimination, and this happens to younger people, too, many of our more mature workers are forced out of the work place. This is such a shame.

Here are ten reasons for why older workers rock, along with the benefits of being a more mature worker.

 

  1. Understanding what has been done in the past can be incredibly helpful in directing what the priorities should be. Mature employees have experience with knowing what has worked, and what has not. Knowing what not to focus on because it will waste time is an enormously valuable skill.

 

  1. Time is our most precious commodity. Due to experience, most mature workers have become exceptionally good at managing their time, and know how to maximize accomplishing goals with a more disciplined approach.

 

  1. Mature workers, in general, tend to be dependable, and have built up a work ethic which is both commendable, and the type of mindset and behavior that is great modeling for younger generations.

 

  1. Having experienced a number of failures already in their life, as people mature, they can be much less afraid of making mistakes and taking risks, contrary to other thinking.

 

  1. Communication skills generally improve over time, and because of this, mature workers do a better job of being able to articulate information relating to the work they are doing, the challenges they are experiencing, or interacting with customers who can sometimes be difficult to deal with.

 

  1. Focusing on tasks or on developing a longer-range strategy becomes much easier to accomplish as you mature. You tend to take more of a longer-term perspective when taking strategy into account, and this is very valuable.

 

  1. Knowing how to handle more interactions with both people and situations is something gained from being exposed to a variety of scenarios over one’s career.

 

  1. Having the ability to be retrospective on most matters can be quite beneficial in terms of getting beyond challenging matters sooner.

 

  1. Patience is generally a skill developed over time. Having the ability to be patient and not too quick to react, can help a company to remain on course and make small adjustments versus reactive decisions that typically do not serve companies well in the long term.

 

  1. Although there is a perception people only have high energy when they are younger, mature employees might in fact have more energy. Less of their focus is on concerns such as social pressure, college loans, raising young children, have passed.

Points to ponder:

  • Has your perspective on what it means to be a mature worker changed?
  • Are you willing and/or able to reduce ageism in the work place?
  • Are you ready to hire mature workers at your company?
  • Will you add them to your team, making it more balanced?

The best performing teams I have seen, are the ones that are generationally balanced. Is yours?

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

 

(9) Reasons why people who use their manners get ahead in business

At the core of our best behavior are the fundamental manners we learned as children. Granted, some people may have been exposed to more manners than others, but most adults learned the basics, which include saying thank you, excusing yourself if you bump into or interrupt someone, holding a door, shaking someone’s hand and looking them straight in the eye. These are some of the absolute foundational manners, and although they are still put to use every day, not everyone is applying them as often as they should.

One of the most common offenses is not saying thank you to someone who did something for you. It could be as simple as handing you a piece of paper, paying you a compliment, taking time to explain something, or pressing the elevator button for your floor. Acknowledging another person’s act should always be a reason for thanking them. So, why do so many people you interact with in business or outside of work seem to have hit pause on their manners?

Not applying your manners can actually work against you. In fact, even if you are a good person and kind to others, if you do not apply your manners on a regular basis, you will be considered less often for future opportunities. This could potentially put your future upward career movements in jeopardy. I know this from years of working with, mentoring, and witnessing those who did not apply their manners in each and every situation and seeing the negative outcome.

Here are nine outcomes for those who exercise their manners on a regular basis:

  1. People who consistently use good manners are considered to be more thoughtful and aware of others.
  2. Using your manners on a regular basis provides the perception or proof that you have learned how to appropriately conduct yourself in numerous scenarios.  This could lead to others wanting to include you in opportunities you might not be considered for if you do not have manners.
  3. Those who apply their manners all the time are perceived as being more emotionally intelligent.
  4. More people want to interact with those who have manners, as they appear to be more even-tempered and pleasant to be around.
  5. Even if you were not born with the proverbial silver spoon in your mouth, as long as you exercise basic manners, people will give you more of a chance to interact with them, right from the start.
  6. People with manners tend to get introduced to more people. Making new connections will indirectly provide you with additional opportunities.
  7. A hand-written thank you note, especially in the age of digital communication, really stands out, and is appreciated by the recipient. Writing a thank you note also demonstrates your ability to communicate well, and expresses a sincere appreciation of the other person’s time or an act of kindness. I used to dislike writing thank you notes when I was growing up, but I got in the practice of doing so. I have found people are enormously appreciative of this gesture of applying your manners  thanking them.
  8. I have spoken to hundreds of people who have expressed their dislike of someone, namely because they were rude, and did not seem to have or utilize any of their manners.  This was especially true of people who did not say thank you. However, they would never tell the person they dislike them because of their lack of manners.  Just imagine how many more people might get along if they simply utilized their manners?
  9. Want to know the 25 manners kids should learn by the age of 10? Check out a Parents’ magazine article written by David Lowry, Ph.D.  Are they on your list? Have you mastered them?

If you happened to grow up in a family that did not teach you manners, or you missed any manner-related lessons being taught in elementary school, there is still time to learn basic manners, and start applying them. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely, as the examples I cited above are real.  Wouldn’t you rather be on the receiving end associated with the benefits those who exercise their manners on a daily basis enjoy? In case you are wondering, this is a rhetorical question.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

Advocate for yourself. You’re worth it.

If everyone could afford to have their own public relations and branding company working for them, imagine how much fun you could have with this? Since this is not realistic for the majority of people, the next best or potentially the best person to develop your image and brand is you. Yes, you, although you may be initially challenged with how to do this, it is possible to do.

Whether you want to develop your own brand is something you have to decide to do, but essentially everyone should be doing this. Why? Because if you have a LinkedIn account or are active on any social media platforms, you are already in the process of developing your brand. However, are you giving your brand the kind of attention it deserves, and is the type of effort you are putting in worth it? It should be, otherwise why would you bother to invest your time in the process?

As we all know, no two people are exactly the same, and everyone has their own talents and different types of experiences which add value to who they are personally and professionally. Some people may have taken a more prescriptive approach to charting out their paths, and others may have taken a less formal approach to developing their personal or professional journeys. Either approach is fine, and what makes the difference in terms of your satisfaction with either path is how you go about advocating for yourself along the way.

I have written about the importance of developing your own value proposition,  and this is the foundation you will build upon to advocate for yourself in just about any scenario. It is possible to have two value propositions, and one would be for your personal life, and the other your professional one. However, it is fine to have one which is a blend of the two, especially since some people do not separate their personal and professional lives. For those that have a strict delineation between the two, then crafting two value propositions will make sense.

As a refresher, think of your value proposition as your “elevator pitch” to tell and promote yourself to others. Give some thought about how you are coming across to your audience from both a verbal and strategic perspective. Are you coming across in a way which elicits a response of “so what”, or a response which has the recipient asking more questions about you? The latter is obviously preferred, so here are some tips on how you can craft the elevator pitch to do the best possible job of advocating for yourself.

  • Write down (3-5) things you enjoy doing professionally, and are good at.
  • Come up with 2-3 examples of what makes you exceptional at the things you enjoy doing personally or professionally.
  • Ask your friends and trusted colleagues to tell you what they perceive are your best skills personally or professionally.
  • Write down and practice giving your “advocate/elevator pitch”. Yes, really do this and refine it as you are crafting and stating it to others.
  • If you are not being asked questions after reciting your advocate pitch, go back and re-craft it and try it again. It may take 2-3 iterations to get this right, and it will likely need to be modified over time as you add more skills to yourself advocacy list.

Still not convinced you need to advocate for yourself? Think again, as how do you think the people who you hear about or admire professionally or personally got to where they are today? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, but it boils down to being a strong advocate for themselves. The bottom line is you are worth it, so get out there and start advocating for yourself. I’ll be looking for you to do so.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

 

Is Your Company’s Sales Buying Process Painful for Prospects?

I was thinking about the process of buying something, and how sometimes it seems effortless, such as when I am purchasing an item via Amazon, while other times it feels like I am stuck in a bad dream and having to agonize over the entire process – which is similar to the process of buying a car. Does the process of what the buying experience is like at your company get discussed and tested from time to time? Do you know how prospects and customers would rate your buying process?  Are you delighting them during their experience, or are you making them run straight to your competitor?

There are a variety of different types of buying processes, and sometimes people are involved in the process during the sale, and sometimes the process is completely devoid of any human interaction. In either situation, there are ways to improve the experience the prospective buyer is having, but have you thought about what these are, and if so or not, have you applied ways to make your buying process better? In other words, would people who have purchased items from your company recommend your company to do business with because the sales process was seamless? Or, was the sales process experience something which might make them not recommend dealing with your company? You should definitively know the answer to this.

Some larger companies use what is referred to as a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to evaluate a series of how people interact with their company, and how they would rate the interactions. In most cases, unless a company is receiving a score higher than 8 out of 10, there is definite room for improvement. The NPS evaluation process is generally a survey which is sent to a random set of customers on a quarterly basis, but is can also be sent to the same group of customers during the course of the year during less frequent intervals. My recommendation is to send it out to a random group each quarter to increase your feedback pool.

For companies who have less than 50 employees, sending out a simple survey with less than ten questions to help determine how customers would rate your sales process is recommended. The survey can be sent out via a “free” survey tool such as Survey Monkey, but there are plenty of other ones to consider using too. Your email solution provider might offer a survey tool option, so look into this as it will make the administration of the survey easier.

Since you will want to know what the ‘temperature’ of the respondent is, I do not recommend sending out an anonymous survey. To increase your survey responses, you can also tell the survey takers that one of the takers will be randomly selected to receive a gift card with an intriguing and generous value amount (e.g., Amazon, coffee or gas). This helps to increase the chances of people responding to your survey. You also want to put a time limit on when they need to respond by to increase their sense of urgency of completing the survey.

When developing your sales process survey questions, remember to include your sales, marketing and customer support teams. If there are other groups involved in your buying process, include them too, as you want to have a variety of questions answered relating to your buying process.

Another approach to take when determining how ‘smooth out’ your buying process is, is to go through and test the process either with employees involved in the buying process, or someone outside of the teams who do not interact with your process. The ideal approach is to have a neutral party test your buying process on a regular basis to see what the experience is like. Sometimes buying processes are set-up without regard to what the true user experience will be like, and this is an enormous missed opportunity to delight your prospect as they are purchasing from your company. Small things in the buying process can be included to make the experience more pleasant and human, especially if the purchase is solely on-line.

Going back to my example of how Amazon makes it so easy to purchase items from them, think about how they streamline the entire process from the moment you pick your item, to when you are checking out and have purchased it. Granted some on-line buying processes can be much more complex than an Amazon sale, but the point is to make sure you are not overlooking the part of the sale that prospects and customers could either dread, or be pleasantly surprised and delighted with the experience.

Do you know if your buying process is negatively or positively impacting your future sales or company’s reputation? You should, and I strongly advise you to test this out.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. We also offer numerous workshops which can be customized to meet your team or company’s needs.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.