The changes that business owners have had to face during the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have been well documented.
However pandemic or no pandemic, change is a reality that every business must go through in order to keep up with the fast-paced world we live in. The way we manage change can be the difference between getting ahead and being left behind.
A recent SmartCompany webinar hosted by startups and tech editor Stephanie Palmer-Derrien, in partnership with MYOB, explored change management with a panel of experts in the tech space.
Valantis Vais, head of product at MYOB; Hichame Assi, CEO at Envato; and Chris Low, head of vibe at Canva discussed how they manage change in their respective businesses and shared their tips for getting it right.
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Embracing change leads to great things
The panel noted that change is hard to avoid in business, but when handled with care, it can be a driver for growth.
In the case of Canva, Low explained that continuous change has been a factor in the success of the business since its beginnings in 2013.
“We view change as an opportunity. It’s something to celebrate… I think it can often be looked at as something to avoid or to be afraid of.”
Vais believes that thinking about change as a continuum is paramount for business success.
“I don’t know if anyone is fortunate enough to be in the dynamic where change is not coming… If you aren’t thinking about change management as a source of competitive advantage, I think over time, you will be left behind.”
Assi notes that embracing change is all about communication and ensuring that people understand “the why, the how, and what it means for them.”
“We’re building a muscle within the team to accept that change is inevitable and to reduce shock factor when it happens.”
Keep the values of your team and business front of mind
Assi reflected on his recent takeover as CEO at Envato and shared how essential it was to be open with the team about how his personal values aligned with the business’s existing values.
“Moving from a founding CEO to an independent CEO is quite a big shift, because a lot of the values and the culture has been established by the founders.”
“When I joined, one of the most important things was to help people understand how I connect to the Envato values. I talked a lot about my personal values and principles and how they align.”
While change can be stressful and can sometimes involve risk, Low shared the comfort that comes with value-driven decision making at Canva.
“As we’ve grown through change, the one thing that’s remained the same is our company values. They guide us along the way.”
“It gives us so much comfort, knowing that we’ll always keep values at the core of any decision we make. It creates safety and security in decision making.
Fostering a culture of change in your business
Recognising the attitude towards change in your business is important.
Vais says, “if you feel you don’t have that ‘change culture’, start by listening, as people in your business are likely already telling you about opportunities for change that you can support.”
Low agreed that driving change is “not a one-way street” and shared one of the ways that Canva gives their employees the chance to have a say.
“We have several really important opportunities for people to engage, ask questions, to challenge. We have a feature called the Fix-It Form where people can anonymously submit questions and every single one of them are read and responded to by the founders.”
If you don’t feel like your business has a culture of change, Assi highlighted that it’s important to ask yourself if you’re ready to manage change as a leader.
“You should be comfortable to reflect and ask “Why aren’t I changing? Why aren’t I reacting and responding to our customer needs or the market dynamics? Where do I come into this stagnation or complacency?”
“If your team isn’t already telling you, then you also need to think, “Have I shut them down too much so that they’ve stopped challenging me? or, “Should I be looking to get fresh people in to help think differently?”.
MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. At the heart of MYOB is a customer base of 1.2 million businesses and a network of more than 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and consultants, for whom MYOB delivers end-to-end business and accounting solutions. MYOB operates across four key segments: Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Enterprise, Financial Services and Practice.