Conveying change

After working behind closed doors on a company merger that meant a new name and brand, John Selinsky wanted the announcement to be an exciting event to get employee buy-in.

There were hats and shirts, and even the company’s trucks were stamped with the new name — Selinsky FORCE — in time for the announcement.

But making a smooth transition really comes down to communication, says Selinsky, president and CEO of the industrial services company. When telling your employees and customers about major changes, you must thoroughly communicate, be open to answering questions and ask for feedback.

“By being completely prepared, going through the whole strategic plan and putting everything together, we were able to answer all of the questions that they could come up with,” Selinsky says. “It made them feel very confident that a lot of work was done and there had been a lot of thought put into the process.”

Selinsky FORCE has 250 year-round employees and about 500 during its busy season.

Smart Business spoke with Selinsky about how to communicate that your company is merging, rebranding or doing both.

Communicate the changes to your employees first. Once you get your game plan together and your strategy together on how you’re going to do it, you need to make an announcement to all of your employees at once.

I don’t think you want to announce it to just a few employees, and then they’re telling the next employee and they’re telling the next employee. Then they don’t get the right message or the whole message. We felt it was important to have a kickoff meeting where everybody was there and make the announcement.

We had a meeting with our employees — before we announced it to the public and to the marketplace and our customers — and we communicated to them, ‘Here’s what’s happening.’

Meet with customers face to face. With a lot of our larger companies, we made personal calls to them. We sat down with them, explained what was happening, what we were doing, why we were doing it and what the advantages were to them.

We did a lot of that in-person contact so that they would feel comfortable with it and they would understand completely what we were doing, and we were able to answer their questions, too.

When you do something like this, it creates a lot of questions. We wanted to give them an opportunity to sit face to face with us and ask us questions and be able to give them the answers so they felt comfortable with what we did.