Not long ago, Kim Clark had an ambitious goal in a time of change at GoDaddy.
The world's largest internet domain registrar company was growing rapidly,
with offices in locations from its Arizona headquarters to India. It had
handed over the reins to a new chief executive.
"Employees really wanted to be engaged and felt like they weren't getting
all the communication that they were looking for," says Clark, who is
internal communications director.
Her goal: Increase trust in leadership by 10 percent among the company's
5,500 employees worldwide. The result: Within six months, GoDaddy exceeded
that, boosting the figure by 13 percent.
So how did that happen? In an interview, Clark offered a look at the
tactics she developed after spending two months listening to GoDaddy
staffers at every level. Her goal was to "have the conversation as much as
possible around things that we had in common, rather than looking at the
things that we have not in common," she says.
Here are a few of the ways she increased engagement:
Tell their stories.
Clark started a storytelling series called GoDaddy Brave, featuring
inspiration from the workforce. The stories are quick reads, ranging from
300-500 words and featuring a few photographs.
"The stories are personal in nature—them being human beings," Clark says.
"It's not us pushing GoDaddy."
The series started during breast cancer awareness month (October) and
featured stories of staffers who had overcome cancer. The next month, Clark
highlighted GoDaddy's veterans.
Recent stories feature a series of stories about employees breaking free
from old habits. One, titled "My 2016 Health Journey: From sitting on the couch to running up
mountains," is the story of a man who shed 100 pounds (and is still losing weight).
Another employee tells how, after a divorce, he took a month's leave,
headed to Australia,
went parachuting and did some scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
"We're a company that wants to share employee stories," Clark says.
[RELATED: Hear more from Kim Clark in Arizona, and learn how to build and maintain a great company culture through growth and changes]
Answer their questions.
On GoDaddy's intranet, there's a place where employees can ask a question.
As soon as Clark sees a question, she assigns it to an executive. She asks
them to answer within a day. ("And they do.") The answers are posted for
all to read.
The company also hosts monthly executive hangouts online. Clark set a
simple rule for these live-casts: 15 minutes of content, 15 minutes of
Q&A. Chief Executive Blake Irving broadcasts from his laptop. "He's
looking right at employees, and he's talking directly to them," Clark says.
People can post questions, and they are handled live. The engaged workforce
always asks more questions than can be dealt with in that timespan.
Nevertheless, Clark makes sure all the questions are answered, even if that
happens after the meeting ends.
"That sort of ongoing dialogue I have found far more to be far more
effective than, say, a leadership blog," Clark says.
Not all corporate bigwigs would drop everything to answer staff questions,
but Clark pronounces herself "incredibly blessed with an amazing executive
team." They understand the value of communication. "They get it," she says.
Hold a 'story slam.'
GoDaddy rented a comedy club and brought in leaders at the director level
or higher to tell a five-minute story each. It creates a fun, shared
experience for staffers, Clark says. For the bosses, the events develop
their communication skills, moving them away from talking about data.
Each story "has to be personal in nature, nothing to do with GoDaddy, and
so allows us to get to know them as human beings rather than SVP
so-and-so," Clark says.
Local offices will be doing the same thing this spring.
Once a month, employees arrive to find a surprise on their desk. The
company also holds events, such as an ice cream social with a GoDaddy
customer that the leaders want everyone to come over and meet.
The prizes get bigger than that. During a sponsorship of NASCAR driver
Danica Patrick, the company had extra VIP tickets for races in various
cities. Clark asked people to nominate a deserving co-worker and make the
case for why that person deserved a trip to the location and the
opportunity to watch a race.
Winners were not allowed to bring a spouse, a friend or a guest. Only
GoDaddy employees could go. Each trip brought together five to seven people
from offices all over to bond and enjoy the thank-you from the company.
"It transcended any kind of issues offices might have or teams might have,"
Start a newsletter.
Well, this one was an inadvertent success. Clark stared the weekly
newsletter simply to drive people to the new intranet. Each email is a
roundup that carries the subject line, "This week at GoDaddy."
"It backfired," she says. "People love the newsletter. I can't get rid of