Slack is revolutionizing how companies communicate internally, smoothing collaboration, speeding response times, and enhancing the organization and clarity of team conversations. But, as with any tool, it only works if you use it. Unfortunately, even if your organization has implemented Slack, a significant portion of your employees may be dragging their heels on actually adopting it.
I should know: I used to be a Slack skeptic. Recently, I wrote about my journey with Slack and how I moved from reluctance (another messaging app to keep up with?) to enthusiasm. If your organization is shifting its internal communications to Slack but getting bogged down with late adopters and laggards who aren’t yet on board, give these ten tips a try.
1. EMBRACE CHANGE AND INNOVATION.
As an organization, do you talk about new tools as if they’re crosses you must bear, or do you consider them as exciting new opportunities to improve your day-to-day work? When you’ve got strong leaders at the helm who are excited about Slack’s benefits and who model its appropriate use, your whole team is more likely to feel optimistic about adoption.
2. SET A CLEAR, SIMPLE ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY.
Don’t leave your users high and dry, trying to figure out for themselves how they should use a tool like Slack. Instead, spell it out for them with straightforward and understandable guidelines. Explain what information employees should communicate via Slack and what they should send through email, so no one has to guess.
3. DESCRIBE APPROPRIATE USES FOR SLACK.
Make sure you explicitly state the use cases where your team should turn to Slack. These might include:
- updates and questions about specific projects,
- status check-ins with direct reports,
- customer service or ticketing management,
- success stories and big wins, and
- casual conversations about in-office happenings or personal matters.
4. LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO MOVE COMMUNICATIONS FROM EMAIL.
When I first started using Slack, I was surprised to realize how effectively you could use it to corral informational messages that don’t require specific follow-up actions. By moving recurring conversations—like customer wins or sales success stories—into Slack and organizing them into dedicated channels, you can instantly reduce the clutter in everyone’s email inboxes and free up valuable time.
5. STREAMLINE CHANNEL SETUP.
Make sure you have a quick and easy process for creating new channels and discussions. That way, users can easily set up ad hoc teams for new projects and conversations, keeping your channels from getting bogged down with extraneous discussions.
6. BUILD STRUCTURES TO REDUCE FRICTION.
While you want a new channel setup to be simple, you also don’t want your organization’s Slack workspace to devolve into a chaotic mess. Ease adoption stress by establishing naming conventions for channels and teams and setting up a starting point with channels, user names, hashtags, and other essential structures. Additionally, create a recommended list of integrations for the other tools you use, such as your calendar application, file share, and conferencing systems.
7. HELP USERS SET UP NOTIFICATIONS BASED ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THEM.
One of my favorite things about Slack is that it directs my attention to exactly what I need to see. Instead of scanning through my email inbox for important messages, I can adjust my Slack notifications to prioritize my actionable channels. To help late adopters realize this benefit, walk them through how to change the notification settings for their essential channels, and turn off notifications for channels in which they have no interest.
8. CREATE ROUTES FOR PARTIAL ADOPTION.
Adoption doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, especially at first. For laggards who are resisting Slack, offer bite-sized alternatives. Perhaps they can reference a specific project channel to gain a historical view of that project or use direct messages to keep up with their direct reports during the day. Even partial adoption is a step in the right direction, so make it easy to get started.
9. EMPHASIZE OPPORTUNITIES FOR REMOTE TEAM-BUILDING.
Especially during this era of social distancing and long-term work-from-home arrangements, Slack’s ability to foster connections is a boon. Make sure you’re creating—or at least creating space for—informal conversational channels where your employees can get to know each other on a personal level.
10. PERIODICALLY SELL THE BENEFITS OF SLACK TO YOUR TEAMS.
Don’t assume your employees will see Slack’s benefits; take the time to publicize its advantages—such as response speed and communication efficiency—at regular intervals. Encourage your champions to talk about their favorite Slack hacks and time-savers. Additionally, set up educational sessions so less experienced users who are motivated to use Slack can learn how to take the next step.