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How NetApp builds a high-performance culture with BetterUp

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NetApp, the global leader in hybrid cloud data services, is building high-performance teams to fuel a massive, multi-year transformation. NetApp partners with BetterUp to scale professional coaching for manager development, deliver a modern employee experience, and drive organizational change at the speed of the business.

NetApp knows that people drive transformation

With a strategic shift from data storage to hybrid, multi-cloud, infrastructure software, NetApp redefined its brand with an expanded portfolio of products and services that elevates the cloud experience. This is just the beginning of their transformation and NetApp knows it will need a fully engaged and aligned workforce operating at the highest level to sustain the momentum.

“Such a transformation wouldn’t work if we only focused on technology. We needed to unleash and develop the potential and leadership of every person in the company,” says Larry McAlister, NetApp’s Vice President of Global Talent, who deeply understands the challenges of driving change in large enterprises.

NetApp’s global talent team embarked on a journey to create Thrive, a talent ecosystem to help people grow, develop, and succeed. At the heart of Thrive is a redesigned performance management approach to build a high-performance culture. From leading past transformation efforts, McAlister and his team knew traditional training approaches couldn’t offer the level of scalability or impact needed in an acceptable time frame. They also wanted to break away from the compliance-based practices that would limit employee motivation to engage in Thrive.

We needed to unleash and develop the potential and leadership of every person in the company.
larry headshot
Larry McAlister
VP of Global Talent, NetApp
An individualized development experience for every manager

NetApp leaders realized that building high-performing teams meant raising the accountability of all employees and managers. As a result, its global talent team focused on the company’s most important relationship: the one between manager and employee.

Partnering with BetterUp, NetApp launched highly personalized leadership development to managers and directors across the business. By seamlessly integrating professional coaching with leading-edge technology and AI-driven personalization, BetterUp delivers the modern employee experience that NetApp envisioned for the Thrive program.

“We knew we needed cutting-edge technology, tools, and programs to enable powerful employee experiences throughout their lifecycle,” explains McAlister. “We felt BetterUp’s hyper-personalized, mobile-enabled, scalable approach to coaching allowed us to focus on the areas that mattered most to us: our people.”

BetterUp’s hyper-personalized, mobile-enabled, scalable approach to coaching allowed us to focus on the areas that mattered most to us: our people.
larry headshot
Larry McAlister
VP of Global Talent, NetApp
Performance, development, and wellbeing in one solution

The support that NetApp’s managers need varies person by person. A manager may need to focus on practicing a difficult conversation one week and explore strategies to manage stress the next. While one manager needs to address immediate challenges, another is focused on anticipating what’s around the corner. Whether it’s getting support for performance, leadership development, or wellbeing, NetApp managers get personalized development with BetterUp.

Practice a performance conversation

Managers work with their coach to role play upcoming performance conversations and learning how to give effective feedback.

Get insights anytime, anywhere

Managers often tap into recommended resources during their morning coffee, or listen to a recommended podcast while out for a walk.

Access specialized coaching

Managers can schedule sessions with various specialists, such as a sleep coach to learn how to get better rest when stress is elevated.

Leaders are growing and thriving within first three months

High engagement on BetterUp’s platform validated that NetApp managers were hungry for personalized support. Over 1000 sessions were completed and managers were engaging in their personal development for an average of 8.5 hours per month. Within the first three months, NetApp saw a significant impact on both behavior change and the employee experience.

— Activating the team: Inspiring behavior change
Chart 1
Strengthening leadership capabilities

Managers experienced growth in core leadership skills such as strategic thinking, driving alignment, and empowering others. Seeing significant increases in growth mindset and inclusive leadership, which are key areas of development outlined in the Thrive program, is an important marker of progress for NetApp and evidence that their investment is paying off.

— Thriving through change
Chart 2
I see myself changing my style every day. I ask more questions to my team than giving suggestions. My 1:1s are more structured as well as my team meetings. My week starts less chaotic.
– Manager at NetApp reflecting on his growth
Thriving through change

Managers grew significantly in areas that enable wellbeing and resilience, which helped bolster their ability to navigate change and uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic. Cognitive agility, maintaining social connection, and physical activity were among these key areas of personal growth.

[My coach] guided me to thinking about what needs to be supplemented in this time of lockdown, from physical fitness and mindset, to social elements.
– Software Engineering Manager on the value of coaching during the pandemic
Elevating the employee experience

NetApp’s global talent team finds the insights delivered through the BetterUp platform invaluable. The baseline data captured at the outset of the engagement allows the team to set a benchmark and identify manager strengths versus hotspots for development. Insights on development motivations and coaching topic trends that are available real-time via the People Analytics Dashboard help the global talent team keep a pulse on what’s top of mind for their managers.

When people thrive, business thrives

Of the NetApp employees participating in BetterUp coaching, 93% said “it was a great use of my time” and a whopping 20% of the coaching sessions are rated, not only “Amazing,” but “Life Changing.”

The global talent team often hear stories of personal agility, resilience, and adaptability from employees who share, “I have a better relationship with my daughter because of my coach,” and “I had a death in the family, and my coach helped me get through it.”

“I know that if our people are thriving, we as a company are too,” says McAlister, who envisions a future where organizations offer “coaching as a benefit” to all employees. NetApp is seeing firsthand how optimizing for human growth is not only the path to engagement and performance, but also a powerful way to improve the lives of its most important asset: people. BetterUp is proud to be supporting NetApp in delivering on its goal to help people thrive.

Sunnyvale, CA

Larry McAlister

VP, Global Talent

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