3 questions with Women in HR Tech speaker Wendy Hanson
Wendy Hanson, co-founder and COO of BetterManager, will speak during the Women in HR Tech Summit at the HR Technology Conference and Exposition® in a session about coaching. Titled Always Be Growing: Coaching and Career Development, the session takes place Oct. 13.
Hanson recently sat down with Women in HR Tech Conference Chair Jeanne Achille.
Wendy Hanson is proud of her company’s mission to help leaders at all levels create a workplace where people can thrive. She is a firm believer that, when companies invest in their managers, they are providing the tools to create a positive culture. In our recent interview, Wendy shared her thoughts on resiliency during these times of COVID-19 as well as why it’s important to keep a positive perspective on business and life. A fan of dragon boating—a sport that consists of 22 people, 20 of whom are paddlers—she knows what can be achieved through great teamwork.
HRE: Wendy, tell us about your professional journey. What led you from education and nonprofits to working with tech giants such as Google and Verizon?
Hanson: My focus is and always has been to create opportunities for people by thinking out of the box. Initially, I majored in sociology and psychology and then realized that a master’s degree would be required to actually get a job. So, ultimately, I got a degree in education, followed by a master’s degree in organizational management. I spent the first 20 years of my career helping people learn to work together; for example, I was the executive director of a nonprofit serving adults with disabilities. Inspired by the capacity of people, when I was ready for a change, I trained as a coach.
From there, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The sales head at Google met someone who had a coach and, therefore, was keen to learn how coaching could fit into his organization. Not only have we helped build strong, effective teams, we’ve created a special focus on middle managers. They’re crucial in any organization but don’t always get coaching and training.
HRE: How are you using technology to be an effective coach?
Hanson: When you put technology together with humans, you can use technology to work virtually and help people all over the world. For example, because of our strong commitment to technology, we can coach in 12 languages and have coaches in South Africa, Canada, the U.S. and even Bali. We have a portal where HR professionals can look at feedback and when coaching is scheduled; we use technology to partner with HR and L&D so they can see first-hand how their investment in coaching is doing.
We’re also very focused on data. For example, we can aggregate data and share it with a company so they can see their areas of strength as well as what they can improve upon. Guess what the most desirable skill is for a manager? Being a good coach!
HRE: We’re excited to have your thought leadership at the HR Tech Conference this October. Obviously, we’re all operating under unusual circumstances and you’ve been focusing a lot on building resiliency. What guidance can you share with our readers?
Hanson: I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue. Dr. George Woods—a neuropsychiatrist—shared some thoughts about resilience that I think can help all of us. Life under COVID-19 is like a jigsaw puzzle; however, unlike where you have a picture of the finished product, there is nothing to visualize. The brain doesn’t like new and novel; it likes knowing what it’s moving towards—that’s why resilient leaders need to be careful about setting expectations and giving people time and resources to take care of themselves.
Resilience is knowing what’s working today and to keep moving in small steps so we can get to the other side of this. That’s the balance: getting things done while taking care of yourself.
Visit Women in HR Tech Summit at the HR Technology Conference and Exposition® for more information.