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During our annual summer visit to Bozeman, Montana we had just hiked a canyon, and were relaxing with a beer and dinner on a brewery’s patio. Across the street was the fairgrounds, where it was the “Bozeman Stampede” Rodeo.
We weren’t there long when a helicopter flew overhead hauling a huge American flag. As it finished its circle of the fairgrounds all of a sudden there were half a dozen loud, explosions. Fireworks with nothing decorative, just noise.
Everybody on the patio jumped and our dogs, and the other dogs, freaked out. They were scared and needed to go to the car for five minutes to settle down from the shock of the surprise noise.
Most people don’t like surprises either, unless it’s something like a surprise party. Just like most people don’t like change. They’ll keep doing a job they hate, keep an unproductive or disruptive employee too long, etc.
Nobody likes the change of business ownership, especially when it’s a complete surprise. It’s one of the touchy subjects in any transaction. What’s the buyer like? Will things change (for the worse)? Will my pay go down?
The issue always is, when does the seller tell the employees? I’ve seen them do it too early, and the employees react like my dogs – freak out (and look for another job). I’ve seen it done after the deal closed and the employees get upset with the seller because he didn’t trust them to tell them prior to closing (and now the buyer has to deal with the culture change from this).
A few hints, a little forewarning, and bringing key people into the loop early go a long way to helping keep people happy, maintaining the culture, and reducing the shock of a surprise.
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Voltaire

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