3 keys to Xero’s business success

There have been three keys to the success of cloud accounting software firm Xero and its business model, according to its HR manager Chris Regan.

The first key has been the leadership and vision of Xero’s founder Rod Drury, who Regan said has been central to creating the company values, an open, genuine and transparent leadership style as well as a relaxed, design led working environment.

“One of my favourite things about Rod is that he encourages us all to take risks and thereby at times, make mistakes,” said Regan.

“In other organisations a mistake can be held against you; at Xero it’s acknowledged, often celebrated because the individual tried and then swiftly we move on.”

Similarly, good leadership throughout the business at every level has also been key to the business’ success, said Regan, who has been with the business for just over one-and-a-half years.

“The first 12 months in my role was challenging,” she said.

“If there is a problem with cultural fit or a performance issue we call it out early and don’t shy away from making the tough decisions”

“While the culture was great, the absence of HR in Australia meant that there were some performance issues bubbling away under the surface which we then needed to manage swiftly.

“The managers flagged the issues and then stepped up with my support to address them. At times we had to make tough calls, which in the long term helped not only the business performance but the culture,” she said.

Globally, the current focus is on ensuring the right leadership is in place to take growth to the next level, which includes further developing Xero’s presence in the US market and making a number of key appointments in San Francisco.

A third key to the success of Xero is its culture, and Regan said the business has a very open culture where people will talk to her, MD Chris Ridd or any of the leadership team if staff members believe an issue needs to be addressed.

“That’s really precious, it’s something that has to be earned and we don’t take it for granted,” she said.

“We make our culture and staff engagement a priority. A key part of this is having a strong alignment between the MD’s vision and that of HR.

“Chris sees things the same way that I do; if you recruit the right people with the right attitude and core values (who therefore fit your culture) and you look after them, then the rest will take care of itself.”

Regan said it is important to recruit the right people and hire not just on technical skill sets.

“If there is a problem with cultural fit or a performance issue we call it out early and don’t shy away from making the tough decisions,” she said.

“Otherwise we would be sending the message that poor performance or behaviour is tolerated and that, put simply, is a culture killer.”

For the full interview with Regan, see the next issue of Inside HR magazine.