Dat Klopt | Hoofdstuk 2

That's right | Chapter 2

We toil until midnight, just like the past few days. Time is running out, the deadline is almost catching up with us. After signing all contracts that followed the agreement, Lotte and I work day and night to ensure that everything is transferred as prescribed. If we do this as correctly as possible, we will probably get rid of it in the fastest and most elegant way. With two perfectionists, each in their own area, we take on quite a bit of extra work in this way. That's what it should be. It would be a shame to both Lotte and my honor not to arrange this down to the last detail.

Few words are enough for us and we understand each other flawlessly. Our intention is the same. For a moment my thoughts wander; how special that you can work so well with someone. This requires commitment and involvement from both, wanting to understand what the other is aiming for, even if it is sometimes short or unfinished. A wonderful flow, beautiful.

Lotte pushes a stack of papers under my nose. 'Ahhh, no! I thought we had fully completed this at the time? That debt collection agency backed down, didn't their charges be based on anything?' I ask her.

"But that has never been confirmed," says Lotte.

Pffff... I breathe with relief.

"Okay, that's it, I'm not worried about that, we can put that away."

We have finished another binder, we are just over half of what we have to do and still have three of the six days left. Nothing unexpected should happen, because then this will go wrong. Despite all the months of preparation and contracts. I push the thoughts far away.

'Gone, gone, think positively, it will work!'

This is how I pick myself up after a short dip, the result of a lot of intensive work and little sleep.

The employees don't know anything yet. That doesn't feel good, but contractually I couldn't do it differently with the new party. They insisted on only releasing the news after the actual takeover. I didn't dare put my hand in the fire for our thirty-five employees. If one of the people were to talk things out or come out angry, the deal would be gone.

The tension is high. Fortunately, it is a lean production week, everything is going as usual in the rooms behind the doors adjacent to our office. Strangely enough, no one comes to ask anything. The receptionist also “coincidentally” does not need anything from the archive or administration folders all week. I shoot up a thank you note. Unfocused, hoping it will arrive well. It must be that invisible forces help us.

It's unbelievable, on day four we pick up the last folders. We were able to make some big shots, which suddenly gained momentum.

"I can manage now," says Lotte, "you go to the regional office, now is the time."

My heart shrinks. This has to be done, there was no other option.

An arrangement has been made for all employees. Everyone receives a large bonus and also continues to be paid their salary for a longer period so that they can find another job. The two “almost” retirees will receive compensation so that they can start their free time immediately. They are the only ones who will be happy with the news. For the rest I feel pain. It is my decision, not theirs, to free myself from all my chains. Apart from everything, apart from obligations, but also apart from certainties. They may not be interested in the fact that I am also taking a big risk with this and I understand that. They, or most of them, are somewhere in the process of trusting work, family, mortgage and fixed patterns. I'm going to smash away the foundation of their existence tomorrow. It hurts, but it was insurmountable. I have done everything I can to arrange it for them as best as possible, but in the end they will not experience it that way. I can't expect that from them either.

Friday morning has arrived, due to the quiet week everyone is "catch up" with work.

'The ideal moment for the transfer,' it crosses my mind. At the same time, I wonder if this is an appropriate thing to think. Ratio and emotion, what bitches they are when they fight each other.

I walk around the company and spread the word that I want to share something over coffee.

No one is surprised, I often make these kinds of reports. Here and there I see a raised eyebrow, the real die-hards know that I always announce important announcements well in advance in the internal newsletter. It remains quiet and at 10.30, when everyone has finished their coffee, I turn on the projector and pick up the microphone. That projector is basically useless. I have one sheet with our logo and the next with the logo of the party that is taking us over. For many “the enemy”, but hey, it feels familiar to be standing here and I don't notice any suspicion when I start.

Speaking in front of an audience is as easy for me as it is for my neighbor. I am now so experienced that I can even skip the breathing exercises that I used to do when I had to go on stage. I click the first sheet with our logo into the image and say:

'This logo represents our company, where we all work with dedication and which I founded fifteen years ago from my heart. We have experienced enormous growth in recent years. We all know that I always strove for more or better and hunted the world in search of great, new assignments. Assignments that you managed to complete with dedication. It fills me with pride that, with the help of you and your possible predecessors, I have been able to achieve the results of this flourishing company. Proud of this beautiful team and proud of the spirit. First a sincere thank you!'

Loud applause breaks out. I feel burdened by the knowledge of what I still have to tell. I know that people are looking at a radiant person, but I don't feel that way at all.

'…Spirit, the word has a lot in it. As has often emerged in the good conversations with you in recent years, “spirit”, or call it energy and its origin, is an important guideline for me in my business and personal life. As a result, I became more and more aware that my business drive would not lead me to the path of development that fascinates me personally. As much as I cherish my beautiful car (chuckles in the audience), life is about other values ​​than that. Many of you know that. Your paths have not all been rosy so far either.

As you know, I have had to say goodbye to many of my loved ones in recent years. I have done my utmost to give the farewell and the process of missing a positive twist. I've had deep conversations about this with some of you. Life touches us, it touches me. What is the point of everything if you are not fully aware of why you are doing something and when?

There is no room for awareness when you have to run a company like this. The company guided me, you know that too. I have surfed the highest waves and have always put everything aside to make this a success. This, at the expense of my personal life and preferences.'

'Oh, no, huh?!' Elly, our quality controller, lets out a cry.

'Yes, El, I think it's “Oh, yes” in this case. You're probably right; the time has come for my true life to begin.'

Some employees look at each other questioningly, but with my trained eye for detail I can see on many faces that they feel that something important is coming. I have known most of them for more than ten years, long enough to be able to understand each other properly.

"Tell me," says one of them.

It is Arie, a burly farmer's son. Never so tactical, but with an extremely subtle intuition.

'Yes Arie, I think you are right. The time has come to tell you that great changes are taking place. I have chosen a new stage in my life; that of personal development. As you understand, this has consequences for the company and for you.'

'Who will be our new director?' a temporary worker shouts.

Actually he doesn't belong here, but yes, it was difficult to explain in advance that he wouldn't be allowed in.

I cautiously say: 'Indeed, there will be a new director, but it will not be your director.'

Immediately afterwards I continue with my text that I quickly prepared this morning and is still fresh in my memory. I've thought about it carefully. 'The company has been acquired by Spencer Inc., a large English private equity firm that invests internationally in companies involved in digital media developments. They have a lot of experience in growing medium-sized players in a short time, and then merging companies or reselling them to international media magnates.'

'And what if we don't want that?'

Victor is a good guy, but always a bit contradictory.

'You have nothing to want this time, no matter how unkind it may sound. You are used to me going through all the processes with you. In this case it was different and it involved my choice to focus on my own personal life, which is why I decided to sell the company. One of the acquisition conditions of Spencer Inc. was that they would only take over the customers and the databases. They want to have the staffing levels in England filled by their own companies.'

It remains quiet, deafeningly quiet.

I continue (There it is again! 'No time for jokes now, girl. On!'). 'Because, despite their approach, they were the best takeover candidate and did not want to waive their conditions, I agreed to their demand. I didn't leave it at that. Because I am grateful to all of you for your continued efforts and involvement, I have made an arrangement with the regional employment services office. The arrangement is as follows: a new vacancy is available for twenty people, everyone receives a substantial bonus and there is also a special provision for people who will unexpectedly be dependent on benefits for longer than the normal maximum period.'

It's still dead quiet.

'I wanted to arrange this for you as best as possible and for this purpose I have made part of the proceeds from the sale of the company available. Of course at my own expense, but that is not what matters now. I wanted to choose a different life and I want to leave you in the best condition possible.'

It remains silent for several minutes. The commentary I expected did not materialize. It's almost scary, so quiet. Then the chairman of the staff association stands up.

'Knowing you, you have prepared this perfectly, I do not expect that there is one point where you have failed to fulfill your duties. I, and I think everyone with me, am devastated that I have to leave this company. Not because I'm angry, I'm sad because this good time is ending. Everyone here has a good brain and a thorough education, if you provide us all with a nice certificate, then a new future will be open to us too.'

Loud applause rises and continues. I don't know what's happening to me. It was anything but this what I expected. It's beautiful, a tear runs down my cheek. That this exists.

“Thank you,” is all I have to say. 'Of course the certificates are already waiting for you. Let's use the rest of the day to talk to each other and exchange the latest information. Anyone who wants to leave can leave. Before you go, let me shake your hand and thank you, and above all: wish you personal happiness and development for the future.'

What a twist! I need to go through this with Lotte, but of course she is also in the room and has seen and felt it all. We exchange glances in brief eye contact and both know that things are going well.

Once again I shoot out a thank you note:

'Thank you,' and at the same time I am surrounded by people asking the most diverse questions... What a day!

Read further? click here for the complete book.

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