Slack Team Communication Best Practices
Best practices exist for a reason. They help us with better approaches to doing things and understanding one another. Working with Slack means effective teamwork, and teamwork means collaboration done with respect and consideration. Let’s explore some of the best Slack team communication practices to get the best Slack experience.
This post is based on Slack’s article on etiquette and tips.
Following Slack Etiquette
Part of Slack etiquette aims at providing more transparent and informative discussions geared toward getting things done. In that regard, avoid direct messaging (DM) and prefer communication done directly to the group. Since DMs are considered private, this might impact productivity and create unnecessary confusion if, for example, a relevant question was asked multiple times but separately through direct messaging sent to different people, multiplying the numbers of people asking the same questions and answering the things over again, while others might have completely missed that question, or were not aware of a team issue. Also, a DM sent means a notification received, which can add up quickly, and no one likes to get interrupted by so many notifications. By reducing the number of direct messages, you also take care of reducing the number of notifications your team members get on a daily basis.
So, when sending a direct message, make it count. Its content should immediately start with the core of your message rather than with a distracting and super vague “hey”. Instead of personal messaging and private conversations that end up creating communication in silos, get in the habit of posting directly for the whole channel. This forces you to rethink and make sure the content of the message you are about to send stays informative, inclusive, and relevant to the whole team. When you need to refer to team members individually for specific requests or important matters, be sure to use the @username mentions. This will get their attention via notification and ensure a response on their part.
Using Visual Cues
When drafting your message in a group channel, don’t be afraid to use visual cues such as emojis, text format in bulleted items, bold and italic styling, titles, and other formatting options available from the platform. It allows users the possibilities of clarity, emphasis and priority by scanning the content of your message more quickly and eliciting quicker and more relevant responses and follow-ups. For instance, space out each new item on a new line. To create a line break, press shift+return. Another example is to make use of national flags when referring to a team location in particular.
As for quick responses, emojis are a great Slack team communication best practice for effective reaction at a glance. As we have mentioned in other posts, emojis can convey complex emotions and concepts in a way that is much faster than if the response was in text form. Written text typically takes longer to process information. You can even search a particular emojis to see if it has been used as a response to your initial message! On a desktop, simply mouse over it, or on mobile, long-press the emoji. Below are just a few examples of emojis to adopt for Slack team communication:
Follow the Thread
Threads are also very much encouraged in Slack’s universe. As we know, group discussions can derail in various directions. Like a tree trunk divided into smaller and smaller branches, a given topic can evolve into other various subtopics or bring up different questions and information. These subtopics, questions, and information are not necessarily as relevant as the main topic of the initial conversation but are not useless either. Threads address those issues perfectly.
They help keep track of the main thread while also allowing additional related side topics to be easily located without losing focus of the main topic. If something important came up in a discussion thread, like a major change in a directive for a project or a new deadline, you have the option to post it as a reply to the entire channel so that people who didn’t follow the thread will read your response. To do so, select the “also send to #channel” checkbox below your message.
Don’t Neglect the Channels
As we know, communication in Slack happens on channels. Channels help you organize communication and collaboration for specific projects, making it easy to prioritize teamwork, set common goals, review chats, approvals, shared files, meeting records, contact colleagues and search items. Everything that happens in a channel is saved so you can always refer back to it for more context and have all the information accessible wherever you are getting work done. Channels are easy to include new members to join the conversation from any time zones so they too can also enjoy access to the channel’s content. In addition, with more and more integrations available, you can carry on with your important work without having to leave Slack or switch back and forth between programs and applications.
Channels accommodate teams of all kinds: engineering, sales, IT, marketing, human resources, project management, customer services… Channels let you bring the most common tools and services you usually need for work with data in sync: Google Drive, Outlook Calendar, Jira, Salesforce, Zoom, Twitter, and Asana… the list of apps is continuously improving and increasing. The point is to use apps through Slack. To know if the software and tools you use at work are compatible with the platform, consult Slack’s app directory here.
When to Move Away From Slack?
Another way of applying best practices in Slack is by not using Slack! This collaboration tool has a built-in “do not disturb” (DND) feature. We encourage you to use it if you want to maintain a healthy life/work balance. The feature pauses your personal notifications on the platform during working hours so you can focus on the tasks at hand without too much interruption. You can also set up a DND schedule as an option for after-hours or time off. When doing this, be sure to inform your colleagues in order to manage expectations of your responses.
To know more about the world of Slack, consult their blog.
Shirley is a Vacation Tracker occasional contributor. She’s held a few positions in communications, marketing and copywriting. When she’s not at her laptop, you can find her daydreaming about her laptop and chasing the sun while people watching.