Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Merrill Dubrow, the CEO of M/A/R/C Research and podcast host of On the M/A/R/C to chat about everything from the thought process of selling a company, to being transparent with our employees, to the adjustment of having a new boss. Overall, all of this boils down to having a healthy organizational culture.
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Keep scrolling to view a podcast summary of the questions I answered!
As the Founder of SEEK Company, selling the company was a huge decision that affected more lives than just my own. Here’s an overview of some of the questions that I was asked during the podcast and my answers to them. To listen to the full conversation, click here.
Q: Before you sold your company, what was the thought process behind it?
A: Anytime your thinking about selling a business, you want to make sure that you’re getting the value you’re after. Before we had sold our company, we made sure that all aspects of it were healthy. That meant making sure the bottom line was where we wanted it to be, making sure our people felt like they were in a good place, and making sure our organizational culture was reflected well in the day to day life.
The biggest take away with this though is the need to be transparent throughout the whole process with your team, your co-works, and your employees.
After you assess your company’s health and get it up to speed, you have to look for the right partner to buy your organization. We vetted about 10 companies before we decided which one was the right fit. For each partner, I looked for 3 things:
- That the brand was left alone after the sale
- That our people were going to be okay and that the partner was not planning to shrink the company.
- That I would receive a seat at the leadership table so that the original company would still have a voice.
These 3 things made all the difference in finding the right partner for us.
Q: How do you monitor the culture as the CEO?
A: Monitoring the culture as the CEO can be hard. Often, we get pulled in multiple directions. Getting a feel, monitoring, and then changing or maintaining the culture of a business is not something that you can do overnight. It’s built over time.
To do this, I started having quarterly hour-long coffee meetings with my staff. I asked them to tell me what’s working, what not working, where there were opportunities, and where there were blind spots.
There was a little distance at first, but the important things were to make my staff feel at ease and build that trust between them.
From the quarterly coffee meetings, I came up with 5 or 6 themes to focus on throughout the year that directly came from staff. This gave them a voice and that’s a huge area of importance. When your employees know they have a voice, the begin to feel valued and understood by the company.
Q: How long after you had planned to sell the company did you let your team know? Did you lose any staff along the way?
A: Change management is a really difficult thing. But my advice would be to start early and pay attention to what’s important to your people. We let the leadership team know sooner than our staff, then once we were closer to selling, we informed our employees.
We didn’t lose any of our team as a result of selling the business, however, that’s not to say there weren’t any feelings of fear or questions along the way. But because I was vetting prospects against those original 3 things (that the brand was left along, the employees would be safe, and that I would get a seat at the table), things stayed healthy.
Throughout this whole process, it’s important to pay attention to what’s important to your people and make sure you’re transparent with them.
Q: What’s the biggest adjustment for you as the CEO now that you have a boss?
A: Because I hadn’t had a boss in years, I knew this would be an adjustment. But I made sure I was open with the new boss about this right from the start. And from that, he has given me the freedom to continue helping to lead the company.
As I like to say, give people guard rails, but give them a five-lane highway in order for them to drive the team and company. And that’s exactly what this new boss did.
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