If you work at a scale-up or start-up in the tech industry, the one constant is that things are always changing.
I’ve worked at HubSpot for the past five years, and in those five years I've held several different roles and worked in two different business functions. Regardless of where I’ve sat, there’s always been a lot of change at HubSpot. It's why adaptability is one our key values as a company.
Recently I’ve realized that change can be great -- if you know how to use it to your advantage. Constant change has helped me build stronger cross-functional relationships, not get flustered as easily, and be transparent with my team to help them navigate new waters.
- Embrace the change. Acknowledging that change is inevitable will help you not hold onto anything too tightly and be ready to pivot. It also helps to remind yourself of the opportunities that can come with change. Of course it never feels great to have to redo work or throw out something you spent a lot of time on. But if you go into a project knowing that it’s probably going to have a shelf life in a company as fast-evolving as a company like HubSpot, you can shift your focus to how it can make the biggest impact during that lifetime.
- Over-communicate. This one is crucial. If we all tried to communicate more, it would significantly impact everyone’s ability to cope with change. But instead of trying to control everyone else’s communication strategy, focus on starting with yours. Anytime you’re the one making a change, make sure you communicate through a variety of channels and using different types of media. One important channel is the frontline management team. They can be a fantastic resource to distribute information quickly and give feedback. The key to over-communicating is to make sure to explain why this change is happening and ask for feedback as well. Then acknowledge what you’re going to do about the feedback.
- Snoop around. No one at your company purposely intends to leave you out of the loop on changes. But there are so many people at the company and everyone moves around a lot, you can’t expect everyone to know what you’re working on. That’s why I make sure to read the announcements, check our company’s corporate meeting notes, talk to my fellow managers, and attend other teams’ open meetings. From there, set up task-forces or meet-up groups to share what you’ve found out with your colleagues. Within People Ops, for example, we have a manager lunch every month or so where we discuss upcoming changes in the organization. The more information you have, the better you can position your team and yourself to navigate the change. Don’t expect everyone to come to you — seek it out for yourself.
- Help others through ambiguity and change. I’m not going to lie to you—even by taking these steps, change can still be hard. I’m not always walking around yelling “Bring on the change!” But you can practice your agility and get better at it. One thing that helps a lot is to jump in and practice communicating the change to others and reassuring them that change will open up opportunities. The more you say it to others and keep a positive attitude, the more you yourself will believe it.
Change is inevitable in the fast-paced world of today’s start-ups and scale-ups. Do you have any other methods for coping with change? Leave them in the comments below!