The news that yet another British titan of business is about to go into foreign ownership has been met with a collective groan from commentators. The Daily Express has even started its own campaign to keep Cadbury in British hands.
I’m not going to comment on whether Cadbury should be British-owned – although do feel slightly uneasy about the idea of national champions.
I’m more interested in the challenge Kraft and indeed the outgoing Cadbury management have in motivating their employees.
There have already been rumours that there will be job losses. Employees have not been slow in expressing their concerns. And we know that public opinion is not currently favouring the deal.
This will undoubtedly create anxiety and uncertainty. And there are likely to be significant constraints about how much Kraft can actually communicate with Cadbury employees right now.
Which could create a vacuum. Soon to be filled with rumours, untruths and speculation.
This is where the outgoing Cadbury leadership could have a role to play. They are closer to their employees (or at least they should be). They will see first hand the concerns their colleagues will have about this deal.
So why not play an active role in dealing with those concerns?
My advice to them is to take part in any employee forums set up as part of the consultation process. Be visible. Walk the factory floor. Listen to the concerns their colleagues have. Be available.
You may ask what their incentive is to do any of this? After all they are not likely to be part of the company’s future.
Well I would simply say that they have made a decision that benefits Cadbury’s shareholders. This may be their primary responsibility. But surely the next is to their colleagues.