March 12, 2015 - Comments Off on Using Slack within a team is harder than I thought
I’ve been trying to implement Slack within our department for a few months now and the challenges in getting it adopted are a bit harder than what I've read in many an article online. Here are a few things I’ve run into that make it pretty challenging for Slack to become the de facto communications platform within our dept. Hopefully, others in similar situations or the team at Slack can find some of these useful.
1) People have a very hard time letting go of email.
This is by far, the biggest problem. Whether it’s muscle memory, forgetfulness, or something else, people have a very hard time letting go of email for tasks that are much better suited for Slack. Even when all participants are on Slack, someone will still send an email resulting in another back-n-forth email chain cluttering up an inbox. Making Slack top-of-mind is a very difficult task among a team who is very used to an email culture. I’m stumped in this area as to how to provide guidance.
2) Notifications aren’t consistent across users.
Everyone has different ways of setting up their software. I like to download the desktop version as well as the apps, then go through each setting tailoring the app to my liking. I make sure all notifications are turned on and even slightly adjust those notification settings depending on the app. Ninety-nine percent of my coworkers however aren’t like this. They may download the desktop version, they may not. I have a few coworkers who had no idea there was an official Mac app and were using the web version. Almost all had no idea there was an iPhone app - much less an iPad app. Some have notifications turned on, some don’t. Some people go through and kill all the apps they don’t use, essentially de-enabling their background processes and any chance of notification. My point is, if people don’t get notifications that conversations are happening or their attention is needed, they forget about Slack and revert back to email.
3) People don’t understand the flexibility or capabilities of Slack.
Even when I can get a good conversation going within Slack, most people don’t understand all the functionality of Slack and revert to email very quickly. For instance, I had a coworker who didn’t know you could save images within Slack, so whenever they sent a JPG of a design, they sent it via email because they didn’t know you could save an image out of Slack. I have coworkers who still don’t know there’s an edit function in Slack, so when they make a mistake in typing, they just retype the same thing again with a correction. I have coworkers who haven’t added their real names to accounts. This results in people not recognizing their coworkers online or have no idea who’s available, so they revert to email.
4) It’s a toy.
Lastly, it’s my belief that a lot of people within our department view Slack as a toy and not a serious communications platform that can add tons of value to their workflow. They don’t sign up, thinking it’s just a passing fad, which leads to the fact that very few projects have their complete team within Slack. This causes even more confusion because people aren’t sure wether to communicate within Slack for this project or do they need to revert back to email because “so-n-so” refuses to sign up and work with the rest of the team. Senior Management is now testing Slack though, so if they like it, then we could soon have an “official” blessing.
I love Slack. I love the easy of use. I love the transparency it provides around the creative process, projects, and conversations. I love the fact that it takes the burden of keeping everyone up-to-date off key stakeholders and puts it squarely back on each user. I love the fact that Slack isn’t burdened with all the regulations and procedures our I.T. department implements for every piece of company software. It just so happens that not everyone within my department shares those sentiments, so getting everyone to use Slack consistently has been a real challenge.
UPDATE: See my new post on the Top 3 Slack Requests