Getting started: Your first week in Slack

Tips to hit the ground running

Autor: Matt Haughey27. Juli 2017Illustration von Pete Ryan

One of the common questions we get from prospective Slack users is how to get their company to use it. They know a lot of organizations have adopted Slack, and they’ve heard it adds transparency, productivity and the ability to do all of their work in one searchable place, from wherever they are. But it’s a new platform and a new way of working, so they aren’t sure how to start.

Read on for some quick ways to get the ball rolling, gradually incorporate Slack into existing processes and expand it throughout your entire organization.

Getting on board

Introducing Slack begins with someone at your company signing up for Slack, picking a descriptive team URL and allowing anyone with a company domain email address to join.

It’s OK to start with the free version of Slack, as the 10,000-message archive should be more than enough to cover you during your trial run. If Slack is as big of a hit as you think it will be, you can easily upgrade to paid features later on.

Start small

Most successful rollouts of Slack start small and revolve around Slack channels, virtual spaces where a team can come together to share messages, workplace automations, digital tools and files.

Begin with a handful of people who regularly work together, from a small team to as many as a few dozen people. Get everyone to download the Slack app to their desktops and phones, then go over the basics using this quick start guide.

With your launch team in place, pick a project in the earliest development stages and commit to tracking it entirely in Slack channels. Create a new channel called #project-name, using your project’s actual name. Have everyone commit to putting all related communication in that channel.

It’s imperative to communicate in the channel and discourage internal email for any project-related talk. Some helpful guidelines:

  • Make every project announcement in the channel only.
  • If you use cloud storage for sharing files, connect it to Slack from the App Directory.
  • If your team uses Google Calendar and/or Trello to track dates and milestones, connect those apps to Slack as well to see updates and reminders in the channel about when things are due.
  • Upload all relevant files, documents, images and things like project mock-ups right into the channel.

Your channel will likely fill with daily team check-ins, discussions around project ideas and development notes. You can also encourage easy-to-use features that facilitate smoother work. For example:

  • Get proposals approved with a quick emoji thumbs-up reaction from everyone on the team.
  • For deeper discussions about specific aspects of the work, use threads, a feature that organizes topics in detail without adding clutter to a conversation’s main view.
  • The pin feature allows you to attach or “pin” important documents and messages, like a schedule or style guide, to the channel so teammates can easily find and access them.
  • A weekly Slackbot reminder can prompt your team to share top project priorities for the day. This keeps everyone aligned, and is handy to reference throughout the week.

Ultimately, from beginning to end, the entire life of the project is tracked in Slack.

Take stock of your experiment

With your first project completed, take a moment to assess how Slack played into the process.

Did Slack enhance your team’s communication?

Unlike siloed email threads or virtual meetings, Slack channels make it easy to communicate across physical locations, time zones and functional areas. All your teammates can come together into a single collaboration hub, making conversations easy to initiate and follow. With everyone on the same page and in the same place, teammates are often more productive.

Did everyone stay engaged and connected during the project?

Open communication cultivates transparency and helps all teammates feel like they contribute important knowledge and skills to a project. This kind of communication is especially helpful for introverts who might usually stay quiet during group meetings, but find it easier to participate in Slack, perhaps via emoji or direct messages.

Did you get to skip any status or update meetings?

Since colleagues are able to continuously share updates and progress as it happens in Slack, teammates are able to forgo meetings and save time. If truly necessary, they can easily spin up a call or start a thread for more clarity.

Was it a relief to simply post news to Slack and not have to CC a dozen people on every email?

Though email has served the business world for years, it not only creates more work but enables information silos that leave people out. It’s easy to simply at-mention a new teammate and add them to your project’s Slack channel. Since channels are searchable, new members can scan the history for context and find the information they need to get up to speed.

Are you ready to share the good news?

If the response to Slack was positive, the next logical step is to use it for subsequent projects, adding dedicated channels for each new project. Transforming how a company communicates can feel like a project itself, so start small and expand slowly. Track your progress and iterate when necessary, developing strategies based on your team’s experience.

To enhance your success and improve the outcome and efficiency of future projects, you can start to loop cross-collaborative partners, gradually folding them into your Slack workflows. They’ll see all the previous progress once they’ve joined, and can quickly catch up on any project.

Once you have momentum and can show how Slack is an inclusive space that makes your teams more successful, efficient and collaborative, you can share with management to get buy-in for a company-wide launch.

Slack launch day

Slack works best when everyone in a company uses it from top to bottom, but the key to making that happen is publicizing Slack and giving people a chance to use it. A good way to do that is having a “launch day” to help everyone get started on Slack after you’ve convinced your organization to adopt it across the company.

Select a future date as the big day, and make internal announcements to prepare everyone for your company’s new Slack workspace. We have email templates to help you remind everyone.

The goal for your launch day is training, both in terms of the basics of using Slack as well as setting expectations on how Slack will work inside your company. A few high-level tips:

  • Share a channel-naming strategy on how teams should organize departments and projects so they’re more easily found.
  • Have your early power users describe how they conducted projects in Slack during the testing phase.
  • Describe how specific apps the company already uses can connect to Slack, and explain how to implement them.

People are often hesitant to change, but with a little planning, you’ll be well on your way to successfully moving your company into Slack and embracing a more connected, inclusive and flexible workplace.

Are you launching Slack inside your company and need a detailed template to follow? There is a great guide in Slack’s Help Center.

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