Susan Justus

How to Develop Talent in Turbulent Times, with Betterment VP of Talent Development, Susan Justus

How do you develop great talent in turbulent times? What about for a future of work which has never yet existed? By being a people-first leader. This week on Left to Our Own Devices, Erica sits down with Susan Justus, VP of Talent Development at Betterment, a digital automated investment platform. Susan has spent many years in the talent development space and understands that building relationships with people “beyond the task” (part of The Betterment Way) is key. To develop employees with clarity, confidence, and purpose, leaders must be able to connect on a deeper level and reinforce psychological safety, EQ, transparency, and values. The work itself must also be meaningful for people to truly connect to an organization and thrive. And at Betterment, they really listen to their people. Which is why this summer, they’re running testing grounds on their hybrid model to work out any kinks, find balance, and help everyone prepare for the full hybrid model which will kick off in the fall. Listen in for more on this Hybrid model that every leader should be paying attention to.


3:30 – “I’ve really tried to deepened the connection that I have by getting to the core of who they are as individuals, not just about the work…we’re moving so quickly in regards to our priorities, our OKRs, and the things we’re focused on for the year and for the quarter, etc. that sometimes we forget who our people are. So this past year, one of the ways I’ve shifted is really getting to know my team first in terms of, what’s important to them at this moment? How can I support them? Because the better they are, in terms of how they’re doing, the best work they can bring into the organization and what they bring to the team.”

10:53 – “We do have folks internal within the people team that are going to start these hybrid team sessions in the summer just to get people comfortable with what it looks like to be in the office and those who may be virtual or not based in New York. Just to get them comfortable with the idea of, what does it look like to have a hybrid team in place? What best practices do we need to put in place because obviously we have to start all over again in really figuring out, how do we find the balance and make our team most effective in this new way of working? So there will be a bunch of testing grounds around this summer just to get people to a good place by the fall when we fully reopen.”

12:15 – “How can you lead your team in the most inclusive manner? How can you make them feel safe? Because at the end of the day, that builds trust. Trust is a really important behavior to demonstrate for your teams so they feel like they belong within your team, within the organization.”

13:08 – “How can you give your team members the work that really makes them thrive and they’re excited about. That they feel like they’re connected to the organization—even if they’re virtual. Being really transparent about, ‘You’re doing this project because this is the ultimate goal that we’re looking to solve for, and this is the part you play in that ultimate goal.”

15:29 – “We’ve found that defining the behavior and what it looks like in action is so critical to anything we do around development at Betterment. Because if people don’t understand what does that behavior even look like in action, why would they be interested in participating in the training, if the expectation isn’t aligned to the actual training and purpose of their role? So we’re trying to be more and more intentional about communicating that across the board with everything that we offer around education.”


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