Slacking Like A Boss
Our org has been using Slack since the very early days, just two or three years after they started. We’ve found it to be an excellent communication tool, and have discovered a few ways to optimize its use. Here are some tips — would love to hear how they work for you!
Adopting Slack at an organization
The Slack v. email battle wages violently. Change is hard, and so sometimes people need a little extra encouragement to jump into the modern era. Here are a few ways to compel people to use Slack:
The conference room switcheroo
- Invite people to a meeting in a particular conference room:
2. About 15 minutes before the meeting, send out a Slack message changing the room. Make sure you @-mention everyone in the meeting:
3. Those people who don’t use Slack won’t show up to the new room. Lay it on thick by pinging them again on Slack:
4. Mike will be sitting alone in the original conference room, woebegone and useless. He will have shamefully missed such an important meeting, and all of his peers will look down on him. He may even send an email asking where everyone is, and someone will respond with “We’re all in Thatcher, Mike, c’mon!”
Email is awful for urgent issues — replies pass by each other, threads get fractured, and people get brought in late and only see part of the conversation. Slack solves this.
When Mike sends out an email about something timely, send the following Slack message to everyone on the email: “Let’s meet at Mike’s desk right now to discuss this”. Everyone will immediately get up and crowd around Mike. This will confuse him.
Then, when someone else should be brought into the discussion, say something like this: “Let’s ask Sarah about this. Who wants to go get her?” No one says anything, and finally Mike will volunteer. Once he has stood up and is awkwardly making his way through the crowd of people, cheerfully say “Oh, no need — I’ll just Slack her!”
This is a strong-armed way of forcing people to Slack. Slack is great about recording and saving conversations, making it easy to hold people accountable for what they say. Just click on the dots menu for any message, and you get a permalink for it, like this:
Here’s how you can use this to finally get people like Mike to jump into the current decade:
- When Mike sends you a question via email that would be so much easier in Slack:
2. Send Mike a response via Slack:
3. Then, get the permalink for the message you just sent:
4. Email Mike that permalink, in response to his email.
This will be very frustrating for Mike — because email is super-annoying and wasteful. The only way he will see your response is to finally login to his Slack account. And you will be victorious.
One of the great things about Slack channels is that they are lightweight — they can last for eternity (like our #complaints-about-mike channel), or they can be short-lived (like #prez-election-wager-tracking).
Similarly, people can jump in and out of channels as their interest or relevance dictates. Often, you will see messages like this:
A polite thing to do if someone leaves a channel is to bid them farewell. Make sure you @-mention them, or they won’t see the message! Like this:
It is extremely fun, because they are wrenched back into exactly where they were trying to leave. Nothing will seem as futile as Slack channel departures. This cycle can go on and on until HR is notified.
Unlike email, which cannot be taken back, Slack messages can be edited. You can use this to rally support around your point of view. Here’s how:
- Say, for example, you hold the controversial opinion that a project should be cancelled. Share the opposite point of view on Slack:
2. Make sure you do this at a time when your biggest opponent is online, so that they respond in support:
3. Then, use the edit functionality to change your message. Invoke the dots menu, and then change what your message says:
4. Your colleagues will see your (updated) statement, and Sally’s (original) response, and they will think that Sally has changed her mind and is supporting you. At this point, they will jump on the bandwagon:
At this point, Sally won’t be able to change her mind, since that will appear indecisive. Circle gets the square.
Automation and efficiency
One of the most powerful aspects of Slack is the ability to connect it to all different types of systems, to enable realtime notifications, so you are always aware of what is going on. There are integrations to monitor your servers, to track the progress of your team’s work, and even to alert you when lunch has been delivered! Here is an example of a system that lets you know if your website is experiencing any issues:
Sometimes these alerts and notifications can be bothersome, though — you may be relaxing at home, a bottle of Sunny D in hand, and not in a position to deal with work. Luckily, the great folks at Slack have built a solution for this!
You can program the built-in Slackbot to auto-respond when certain words are entered — for example, you can have it say “shakalaka” any time you type in “boom”. So, it is possible to set up Slackbot to help take care of certain situations. Follow these steps:
- First, in “Customize Slack”, set up Slackbot to respond to a particular word, like outage.
2. Then, when a situation arises, simply type in that word, and you can quickly resolve the issue:
Slackbot has helped Eric avoid having to check the production environment. This saves a ton of time — efficiency through automation!
Slack is a great tool to streamline office communications, and also to entertain/embiggen yourself. Happy Slacking!