Steven Aldrich, chief product officer at GoDaddy, has seen firsthand how technology and remote work have changed the role and responsibilities of managers in recent years. In addition to his current position at GoDaddy, where he previously served as senior vice president of business applications, Aldrich has been in leadership roles for a number of other organizations, including Intuit, Posit Science and Outright.
We recently had the chance to ask Aldrich about the changes to the management landscape and how leaders today can get the most out of their employees.
Q: How have leaders had to adjust their management style in the last decade to get the most out of their employees?
A: In the tech industry, management styles have improved in many ways over the past decade. There has been more sharing (think Google's Project Oxygen) and benchmarking (e.g., conducting employee surveys and comparing results within and across companies) to ensure best practices are understood by more people. The space I've seen the most improvement is the focus on openness of sharing information and context, bringing employees into decision-making, and a recognition of 'agile' being an enterprise concept, not just a development approach.
Q: In today's technological, largely remote working environment, what are the biggest challenges leaders face?
A: Technology has brought workers far more advantages than it has disadvantages. The flexibility of being able to work anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal has given folks a tremendous opportunity to become anywhere workers and connect remote teams.
However, remote work does have its challenges. The lack of face-to-face time can cause communication mishaps, which makes it increasingly important to select the right technology to use with your co-workers. Using on-camera calls can at times feel just as personal as a face-to-face meeting, even if one employee is in Phoenix and their team is in London.
Q: What skills do leaders of today need that their predecessors might not have?
A: Leaders of today need to understand and cultivate a growth mindset. Our environment is changing so rapidly that we have to constantly say 'I don't know' while being willing to go learn the answer. That's the core concept behind growth mindset – humans have infinite capacity to learn and improve. This will help leaders adapt to new technologies and working styles.
Q: What tips do you have for managing a staff that has both in-office and remote employees?
A: At GoDaddy, we have full-time employees who are also grilled-cheese chefs, fitness instructors and brand-new parents. We encourage people to pursue their dreams, just like our small business customers do. Really giving your employees the flexibility to be anywhere workers, both in the office and from home, means you value them for their time and contributions. Just because they're not in the room doesn't make them less valuable. If you have meetings with folks who are on the phone and people in the room, directly address the folks on the phone to encourage them to be present and collaborate as a team.
Q: When you are working with employees you don't see each day, how can you ensure their productivity remains at a high level?
A: Start by setting clear expectations. When you have common goals and deadlines, everyone is responsible for staying accountable for their work. It's also important to take the time to learn each employee's communication style. If they prefer a Slack message rather than a phone call, that may be a better way to check in on progress.
Q: Are there any tools that you would advise businesses to use to help boost productivity?
A: Every business is different, but my favorites are the Microsoft O365 product suite (sharing documents, common calendars, easy meeting setup), Zoom and Slack.
Q: How is GoDaddy helping small businesses increase their productivity?
A: One of our goals is to give our customers products backed by people that take care of the stuff that is important but not core to their business – like email, website hosting, security.
A small business owner who runs a cupcake shop shouldn't have to worry about being an SEO or website-building expert. We're here to be the experts on that so they can focus on what they do best – baking delicious treats. We offer 24/7 localized customer service, so our customers can call anytime, talk to a real person and get their questions answered.