I've been using slack for a handful of years in a variety of circumstances. Here are a few tricks and methods that I've found to be particularly helpful in augmenting team communication.
1. Use the ❌ and ✅ method
Sometimes you want to give somebody a task or follow-up item inside slack instead of your Task or Project Management System (PMS) to make a task formal. The problem I found is that sometimes these items would be lost amid the chaos of chat room conversations.
The way to avoid this is to always associate any f task with an X mark reaction, which indicates to the rest of the team that this is something that requires further action. Then, they can simply add a checkmark reaction, which lets me know that it’s been handled (by either completing the task or converting it into a task inside our PMS).
2. Strikethrough text instead of deleting
You know the scenario. You hear the sound for a Slack notification from your pocket, but don’t check it right away. When you do, the message is no longer there.
It’s likely that somebody deleted a message after they posted it. This might seem okay, but the act of deleting something can make others on the channel feel like the person is hiding something from you.
Numerous studies have shown that subtle cues like holding a warm and cold drink can have profound implications on the way you act. It is not always the act itself that is important, but the feeling it engenders in your team that is important for forming a strong team culture. Deleting messages may not seem like a big deal, but it can create the feeling that you are hiding something from the rest of your team.
One way around this problem is to put a Tilde ~before and right after your message~,
which Slack will convert to a strikethrough line through the text, so your team knows it was an error. Instead of undermining any feeling of trust with your team, you are contributing to it by choosing not to hide your mistake— even something as simple as a slack message.
3. Have Dedicated Channels
A huge factor in Slack’s success was its focus on integrations with apps and tools. Once I discovered the power of Zapier, an integration powerhouse, I started to go crazy in setting up notifications on everything from new orders, website down alerts, and even new transactions on the business credit card!
It quickly became clear that a load of notifications disrupted the flow of collaboration in the channels, so I found it best to separate discussion from notification channels. I designate these by using “feed” or “notify” as the distinguishing item in the channel name.
We also have a dedicated ‘#announcements’ channel for the whole company that is a default channel for all new users.
Finally, having a remote team makes having a team culture more difficult. A way to help boost feelings of empathy and closeness among your team is with fun channels like #random in which anybody can post interesting links, funny gifs, or videos they came across. By far our most popular channel is #ninjagrooves which has a constant flood of music being shared across the entire company.
5. Train your team on how to use Threaded Replies
Whether you’re on a Zoom video call or all physically in the same room, everybody generally accepts that only one person should be talking at a time. In Slack, however, it’s not uncommon to see multiple conversations happening at once in a single channel.
When you’re on a phone call, people don’t speak over each other, so why should that happen in Slack? If you’ve ever had entire channel discussions between two people, then creating a culture that uses this can provide the best of both worlds, in terms of company transparency and ease of communication.
When you are having a voice conversation, whether in person or on a video call, everyone knows that only one person should be talking at a time. You don’t talk over someone but wait for your turn. In Slack, however, it is not uncommon to see multiple conversations happening at once in a single channel.
Using threads to organize your conversations will keep the channel neater and create a better culture of communication.
6. Know the difference between @here and @channel
If you need to make an announcement to everyone, no matter where they live or if they are active, use @channel to send a push notification to everyone on the channel.
Be careful though, and make sure to consider if everyone needs to get the notification. You might be better off using @here to send just to those who are active. Be judicious on when you contact people, and your co-workers will thank you.