TecHR Interview with Diane Strohfus, CHRO at BetterWorks

Tell us about your journey into HR?

I started my career in finance and slowly migrated away from it, and accidentally landed in HR technology. But my career evolution always leveraged my prior experience and allowed me to grow; from finance, I was a headhunter placing finance professionals, then moved into a tech company where I led a university relations team and was later asked to be an HR Business Partner.

How did you start in this space? What galvanized you to start at Betterworks?

My years as an HR Business Partner often found me working with organizations in transition. This involved working with new leaders to transform their organizations, starting with vision and mission setting and organization design followed by goal setting and getting all layers of the organization aligned and marching in one direction. This has been a huge passion of mine, so when the opportunity with Betterworks presented itself I jumped at the chance to work with a company whose core mission is to align organizations and motivate their workforces to ever-higher levels of performance.

What is Betterworks and how does it fit into the HR Technology landscape?

Today’s workforce and workplace are dramatically different than even a few years ago. Unfortunately, the way many organizations manage workforce performance is still stuck in outdated practices like annual reviews, but companies are increasingly realizing a continuous approach to performance management will them up for the ongoing competitive advantage.

Betterworks enables Continuous Performance Management in a way where employees can tie their work to key objectives much more easily, and leaders can identify, reward, develop and engage their talent very differently than in the past. Continuous Performance Management sits at the crossroads of all employee engagement, rewards and development programs, and Betterworks makes this possible in a single platform.

What does your Ideal Employee profile look like? How do you adopt HR Technology products to find talent?

I’m always looking for people who are curious about the world around them, and those who have a desire to learn and grow. Of course, if they are excited about harnessing the power of the workforce, even better!

Tell us about your experience with Inbound Recruiting strategies? How much have they yielded results for you at various organizations that you worked?

Recruiting is increasingly challenging and competitive, so leveraging every avenue possible is key. Social media can be a real ally in that how a company shows up externally can draw the right candidates to your company. It all comes down to telling candidates a great story about what it’s like to work with you and appealing to what could be in it for them!

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What is the state of Performance Management technology in 2019?

There is definitely a lot of innovation happening in our space. One area I’m particularly interested in is helping companies move away from just tracking results and completion rates of a review process to understanding the underlying tone and sentiment of people’s responses during conversations up, down and across the organization and drawing insights into what this says about a person, team or the business. The technology is here now, but there is still a lot of room for growth in terms of getting companies to really adapt to and adopt this new model.

How can HR companies build their HR Technology stack with Betterworks?

It all starts with the process. At the end of the day, we are selling a solution to a company’s problem or an outdated review process. Implementing the technology is easy once we’ve consulted with you to understand the demands of your business on the Continuous Performance Management process, but it’s essential that we work to clearly define the associated processes! All HR programs are connected to one another and none of them more so than Continuous Performance Management, so processes and systems need to interconnect seamlessly.

How does Betterworks leverage technology to build a cordial and effective relationship with employees?

We do this by making performance management easy and beneficial to employees and meet them where they work! That means giving them technology that is tied to their work in Jira, Slack, Salesforce, etc. and creating a simple flow of work inside the application that actually helps them navigate their work. This is where having frequent and lightweight conversations comes into play; employees get the clarity they need and support from their managers on a regular basis, and the business gets a more engaged workforce driving business results!

Tell us more about your vision into further expanding the opportunities for HR Technology platforms?

Continuous Performance Management touches everything in HR. From rewards and recognition, promotion and development, talent differentiation and succession planning to engagement processes, all are part of a unified performance management strategy. We are continuing to build out our own product to enable all those other processes, then applying analytics to give insights to HR and leaders about the people who work for them to enable better decision-making and problem solving as organizations grow.

How do you interact with your counterparts from Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

I get to interact with all of our functions as they navigate sales, customer implementation and support, and how we market to our customers. As a true HR practitioner, they are selling to “me”, so I have a hand in helping each function navigate working with customers.

How often do you discuss technology and its benefits in your respective functions?

As an HR leader in a technology company, I’m constantly evaluating ways to better our tools and products so we can scale the impact of our customers’ HR teams. We have a very deep bench of HR experts at Betterworks, and we’re constantly evaluating how to harness technology to make us better in our roles.

Which start-ups in the tech industry interest you the most and why?

There are a number of startups out there working on employee interactions, such as engagement, rewards, etc. We pay a lot of attention to organizations conducting research on the changes in today’s workforce and business environment such as MIT, Deloitte, Bersin, even Lean In. With so many shifts occurring so rapidly, the research helps us remain on the bleeding edge in the performance management space.

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What technologies within AI and HR Technology are you interested in?

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is going to be pivotal for HR and is one area I’m fascinated by! If we as HR practitioners are able to draw insights at scale from the conversations that managers and employees are having every day, it will allow us to dig deeper, draw conclusions and create solutions before problems take hold, and that is game-changing.

In HR Technology, what are the new emerging markets that you see providing the biggest opportunities?

We see a long runway for us in continuous performance management as it is not only a pivotal HR process, but it touches so many adjacent processes and each one of those processes is another avenue of our technology to address.  Businesses are still adapting to the deep leverage they can gain from focusing on continuous performance management so we have not only room to grow with our technology but also with our influence and assistance with industry adoption.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I’m a huge advocate of daily meditation before work. I believe it brings a level of focus and intention to work to really slow down, take some time and think about what you need to do that day, and why you’re doing it. I find that I derive a lot more satisfaction from my work, and have more clarity and focus throughout the day.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Amy Cappellanti-Wolf is the CHRO at Symantec, and a brilliant leader in the space. I’d love to hear what her responses would be.

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Thank you, Diane! That was fun and hope to see you back on TecHR soon.

Diane Strohfus has been leading and scaling organizations for the last 20 years with an approach of creating purpose-built strategies that enable and align people to drive business results. In her role as CHRO of BetterWorks Diane sits at the intersection of HR strategy and technology, and is responsible for scaling the company through innovative people practices while simultaneously working closely with the product team to influence and evolve the company’s product offerings.

Prior to joining BetterWorks, Diane was Head of HR at 8×8 and held various HR leadership positions at Cisco. She holds a B.A. in Business from Northern State University and a MBA from Golden Gate University.

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Betterworks® is HR software to align, develop and activate your workforce for business growth. Organizations are able to replace outdated, ineffective, universally loathed annual review processes with powerful Continuous Performance Management® programs that help managers be better at the goal alignment, feedback, coaching and development conversations necessary to inspire and motivate the entire workforce to collectively achieve an organization’s top priorities today and be ready for tomorrow’s challenges.