Tag Archives: Distraction

How Do You Have a Fierce Conversation? Six Factors

Situation: A valuable tool for CEOs is Susan Scott’s book Fierce Conversations. This includes challenging conversations with staff. Scott characterizes Fierce Conversations as being robust, intense, strong, powerful and passionate. These are the traits that a leader must bring to challenging conversations instead of avoiding them. How do you have a fierce conversation?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The first step is to master the courage to interrogate reality. This means confronting the difference between “ground truth” or reality and official truth or what we or others wish to believe. There is often a difference between the truth that we want others to see and reality. Jim Collins calls this confronting the brutal facts of our situation without losing faith in our ability to deal with it.
  • Be here, prepared to be nowhere else. The conversation must be your only point of focus when you are having it. Choose a location where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by texts, phone calls or anything else.
  • Tackle your toughest challenge today – you gain little by putting it off for another day. Prioritize your challenges, and tackle the most difficult ones first. Handling these will make the most difference.
  • Obey your instincts – but remember that instincts are subjective and must be verified through reality checks. Trust your gut, but verify it objectively with evidence.
  • Take responsibility for your emotional wake – what he or she will remember after the conversation. Keep the focus on factors that the other party can control, and offer to assist. But be sensitive to how you deliver the message and how the other party responds. Don’t leave more of a mess than you had before the conversation.
  • Harness the power of silence – silence slows a conversation and increases your chances of making it meaningful.

What Are Best Practices For Managing a Due Diligence Process? Six Suggestions

Situation: A family-owned business received an unsolicited letter of intent to purchase the company. The Board is split on sale of the company, but has agreed to allow due diligence. Only a few key employees are aware of the LOI. What are best practices for managing a due diligence process?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • A due diligence process can be a major distraction. Put as short a fuse as you can on the due diligence process; insist that the information requested be limited in scope to essential materials to minimize distraction; and that the process not interfere with scheduled company commitments.
  • It is exceedingly difficult to hide reality from the troops. Good due diligence is incompatible with secrecy. Absent communication about the situation, if rumors develop at least a segment of employees will assume the worst leading to possible employee loss and erosion of leadership credibility.
  • It is better to explain the situation and put it in the best light. Here’s an example:
    • The company is not for sale but has received an unsolicited inquiry.
    • This is happening because the company is successful, is producing consistent value, and others appreciate our success.
    • Whatever happens, the company will continue as a going concern and if the company is sold, all efforts will be made to assure the retention and security of the employees.
  • Ideally, communicate this through a company-wide announcement, with video link to remote sites, and with the opportunity for employees to ask questions.
    • Brief all key managers in advance, with Q&A scripts to deliver a consistent message and address individual questions.
  • Strictly control the due diligence process.
    • Restrict direct contact with employees and, to the extent possible, with key customers.
    • Maintain your focus on the business – there is no guarantee of a sale.
    • Put retention packages in place for all key employees.
  • If the deal does not go through, assume that it will negatively impact company results for at least one quarter. Adjust your forecasts and incentive programs accordingly.

Key Words: Due Diligence, Purchase, Time Line, Distraction, Communication, Message, Coordinate, Q&A, Limit, Incentive, Retention Package