MarTech Interview with Cindy Goodrich, CMO at BetterUp

Cindy Goodrich recently joined people experience platform BetterUp as their new CMO, she chats with us about her new role and key marketing and leadership learnings in this QnA:

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Hi Cindy, tell us a little about yourself …you must be excited about taking over as CMO at BetterUp, take us through the highlights you’re most looking forward to in this role through 2021?

I’m really excited about joining BetterUp! I’ve been in marketing and tech for over two decades. I started my career in the consumer world with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, then moved to B2B when I joined Google. From there I landed in the startup world and eventually got to Hubspot which was a really pivotal moment in my career. I was at Hubspot for about six years, as they grew in every way possible — as a company, across categories, and internationally. I oversaw brand and buzz in the critical time period leading up to the company’s successful IPO, and in the years following.

Throughout my career, I’ve learned how important it is to align with a company that truly values its brand, its customers, and its people. Now with BetterUp, I’m particularly excited about our growth potential and the true and meaningful impact we have on customers today, changing lives. And we’re quickly diving in on reshaping and rebuilding the already strong BetterUp brand. As BetterUp continues it’s rapid growth, we have a number of initiatives on the horizon including a new brand identity and campaign that will expand our reach globally.

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Through your years in the tech industry, what are some of the core leadership values that you’ve always held close, that you feel most leaders should also keep as a priority?

Particularly in tech, things move very quickly. Given the speed of innovation, it’s important to ensure as a leader you have a high degree of trust with your team. These bonds of trust fuel a virtuous cycle. When things move fast, you can empower your people and give them autonomy to run while also providing the guardrails and vision so they know where they’re going and what success looks like. We know from BetterUp research that meaningful work retains, inspires, and motivates your people.

Because tech moves so quickly, there’s also a lot of opportunity for people to grow quickly in their careers. As a leader, it’s important to be on the lookout for where your team members are interested in growing and to ask yourself how you can help them get there.

How according to you can today’s business heads craft better employee development practices with tech and online learning – take us through some observations of how you’ve seen industry leaders do this?

So often the default is traditional training, but we know training alone isn’t sufficient to drive lasting change, or measurable results. At the same time that companies are becoming acutely aware of the workforce’s need for continuous learning,  and an inclusive environment, and talent is seeking opportunities that offer more growth and development — training programs, no matter the format, can’t fully address these challenges.

That’s where BetterUp comes in. BetterUp’s hyper-personalized approach that emphasizes development of the whole person makes it possible to adapt your development goals to an individual’s needs — assessing key weaknesses and areas for improvement, tailoring content, and finding coaches best suited to those needs and benchmarking progress at scale.

When employees receive learning tailored to their preferences, they put in twice as much effort and experience a 180% boost in job effectiveness, according to our data. By tailoring employee development, BetterUp makes learning more effective and accessible. And it brings sustained change to previously underserved populations of front line managers and emerging leaders, as coaching in most companies is still largely reserved for executives and the C-suite.

Given the events surrounding 2020 – what are some of the biggest best practices you feel global workforces and business leaders needs to inculcate to help create better measures for crises management in future?

If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that our work and personal lives are completely intertwined. People leaders have had to step up in a big way and take a leadership role – not just in defining policies and procedures but in understanding that we need to create moments of human connection and options for human support when needed. We saw our whole person model of coaching provide tremendous value in response to the constant uncertainty and challenges of 2020 –people weren’t just turning to their BetterUp coaches to work through how to get ahead in their careers, but were looking for guidance in managing the day-to-day of life as well.

The multiple crises of 2020 left many company leaders scrambling for answers. While we can’t change the past, companies can create a proactive resilience strategy today to prepare their people to better handle tomorrow’s crisis. BetterUp conducted extensive research into resiliency this year and found that highly resilient managers have direct reports who experience 52% less burnout, are 78% less likely to leave the organization and report 57% greater purpose in their work.

Creating a crisis plan isn’t about checking a box — but rather doing the hard work to foster a culture of growth, inclusivity, and resiliency that equips your people with the skills and mindsets to thrive through change and adversity.

As trends shift in light of today’s evolving workplace culture – what are some ways in which companies in tech can strengthen their diversity cultures and employee health fundamentals, including mental health practices?

2020 was the year we brought our whole selves to work yet many workplaces and managers weren’t prepared for that shift. BetterUp has stood hand in hand with the world’s leading companies to help strengthen diversity and inclusion programs, improve mental health, and foster peak performance.

In terms of diversity in particular, one of the keys to success that many organizations overlook is measurement and accountability. It’s essential to understand where you are, your starting point, and to measure progress over time.

Too often, companies narrowly define success in D&I as an achievement of demographic diversity. But it’s equally important to consider and measure employee sentiment around belonging, self-awareness and psychological safety — do your employees genuinely believe they can authentically bring their whole selves to work and that all of your community members feel embraced and heard?

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, instead of a “check-the-box” approach, companies need to integrate diversity and inclusion messaging, values, and practices into all areas of company operations.  An effective diversity policy needs to be part of your company’s overall business strategy and be communicated and reinforced consistently or it won’t drive meaningful change.

For mental health, while many company leaders agree on its importance, many still get the definition wrong. Leaders should view mental health with the same lense they see our physical health — Just because you are not physically ill, does not mean you’re physically healthy. There’s a broad spectrum where folks can land. Employees need the equivalent of a gym membership for mental fitness, with a personal trainer helping them build stronger and stronger mental muscles to adapt and problem solve. They need to build their psychological core — resilience, stress management, and coping skills — to buffer against challenge and uncertainty. Coaching is one of the fastest ways to build mental strength and resilience.

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We’d love to hear about your most memorable leadership instances and learnings from the years past?

Over the years, I have learned the value of showing vulnerability and your human side. It can help you show empathy and connect with your teams, and allows them to feel they are heard and contribute to the larger process. It might have been that in the past, there was a belief that leaders always had to seem 100% confident that they had all the answers and had the final say, but I truly believe this is evolving to a different understanding.

Also, I’ve come to believe in the importance of reinforcing for your team the “why” behind what they are doing and why their work really matters. For us at BetterUp, that is regularly sharing internally the life-changing stories we hear from people who have used our services

Sometimes you’re working so quickly on so many different things at a given time that it’s not always easy to stop and take this step. But it can be incredibly valuable as a leader to refocus and ground your work in what matters. And the amazing thing at BetterUp is we know the work we do matters deeply to many people.

A few last thoughts, on creating a better work culture in tech and work-life balance?

BetterUp is on a mission to unlock the human potential in every person. That commitment starts with BetterUp employees, who model the “whole person” culture that we strive to help our customers and Members achieve. As our CEO Alexi Robichaux has said, “Good knowledge work is about how you think, not just what you do. And, how you think isn’t outer work. It’s inner work.”

To that end, BetterUp offers “Inner Work” Days: Five days a year, workers leave their “office job” to do inner work. We want to give people time to dive into mental acts or activities focused on their purpose and passion. That can include time spent meditating or being outdoors to understand their values and principles, or reflection to gain clarity on workplace stress.

It’s especially important that leaders and managers participate and model this inner work, too. We think of it as making sure you take the time to put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others.

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BetterUp is the People Experience Platform for professional coaching, immersive learning, and insights designed for everyone.

Cindy is the CMO at BetterUp