How McAfee ran its first executive AMA in Slack with Workflow Builder

The company’s consumer products cloud business unit designed a simple process to create engaging dialogue between employees and leadership

Author: Devon MaloneyJuly 6th, 2020Illustration by Robert Samuel Hanson

When technology security company McAfee transitioned its entire organization to work from home in response to Covid-19, executives in the consumer products business unit wanted to keep communication between employees and leadership open and active. So they turned to Slack, the enterprise-grade channel-based messaging platform, to conduct an Ask Me Anything (AMA) Q&A session hosted by McAfee’s vice president of consumer strategy and general manager of the consumer cloud division.

Using Workflow Builder—a visual tool that lets anyone create custom workflows code-free and automate routine processes in Slack—they designed an AMA process that was easy to build and use, ultimately creating a high degree of engagement between employees and executives. Here’s how McAfee launched its first executive AMA with Workflow Builder.

“Workflow Builder was so easy to use that our executive was able to self-moderate the entire AMA. It was a great experience all around, especially for employees who submitted questions using the workflow.”

David NewellSenior manager for consumer retention data strategy, McAfee

Creating an intuitive AMA process with Slack

David Newell, McAfee’s senior manager for consumer retention data strategy, and his team established two new Slack channels—digital spaces for people to share messages and files—for the AMA:

  • #exec-ama, a public channel where the executive could answer employee questions
  • #exec-ama-moderation, a private channel where employee questions could be viewed by leadership before being shared publicly

Before the AMA session started, Newell’s team posted instructions on how to participate. Then employees kicked off the AMA workflow by clicking on the lightning bolt icon in the message bar while in #exec-ama. Then they would select “Submit AMA Question.”

mcafee slack ama workflow builder question

A private form would then pop up asking the user to type their question. By clicking “submit,” a message would be sent to the submitter, confirming their question had been received and letting them know it would be answered in-channel once approved, time permitting.

McAfee Slack executive AMA question workflow builder

Meanwhile, the submitted question would automatically be routed to the private #exec-ama-moderation channel, where a moderator would approve the question. This allowed the AMA team to skip redundant questions, prioritize the most relevant, and still commit to answering any remaining questions 24 hours after the session.

Once the question was approved by the moderators in the private #exec-ama-moderation channel, the question was published in the public #exec-ama channel, where the executive answered it in real time.

The team scheduled two time-based rounds of the AMA using staff-wide calendar invites: one for McAfee employees in the North America region and one later that day for those in the Asia Pacific region. More than 1,000 employees joined #exec-ama and several hundred of them actively participated in the event.

Maximizing executive-employee engagement with Workflow Builder

As McAfee transitioned all its employees to remote work, executives wanted to find ways to encourage employee engagement and foster connection with the leadership team.

“We wanted to help teams stay engaged and keep people involved,” says Newell, “to open up the lines of communications so employees wouldn’t feel disconnected from our executive team now that we’re fully remote.”

Participation was strong and enthusiastic: Employees submitted 42 questions overall—far more than the executive had time to answer in the hour-long sessions. Feedback solicited at the end of the AMA was also positive, with employees saying that the sessions were helpful and informative and they appreciated the simple and easy-to-use workflow format.

By hosting the executive AMA in Slack, Newell and his team were able to accomplish two goals:

  • Create transparency and engagement between executives and employees
  • Showcase the value of Workflow Builder and Slack to employees by demonstrating how the platform helps teams stay connected

Since the AMA was a resounding success, Newell and his team are organizing future AMAs with multiple executives across various departments. They’ve also created new workflows using Workflow Builder templates, such as standup meeting reminders and incident response alerts.

“With its streamlined construction, Workflow Builder is a powerful tool for Slack users,” Newell says, “especially when it comes to internal communication and automating entire processes end-to-end.”

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