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BLUF: For those of you using Slack or Microsoft Teams, did your company replace general email (ex. HR communications, performance, etc.) with these tools? If so what were some of your lessons learned?

I work for a small Silicon Valley startup and we are considering replacing our general email usage with Microsoft Teams. Leadership asked me to pull together a plan on how to do this. I have limited experience with Microsoft Teams for communication and am looking for some feedback on what others experienced while making this change. It is widely understood in the company that the behavioral change to accomplish this goal will be the largest hurdle.

Thanks in advance!

Michael Stahl

matthewdricci's picture

I think I have a minority opinion here, but I'm not a big fan of this trend. My previous (15 person) company used Slack, which I loved. My current (100 person) company uses Teams and I think it has devolved into a noisy mess. To me, it's the same trend as business activities moving toward text messaging. 

I think a big factor is here the people using these tools, not the tools themselves. You can use Teams/Slack respectfully and effectively, or you can use email poorly. So your small startup may use it really well. 

With email, particuarly company wide email, thought tends to go into it to make it consumable. And then I can consume it on an asyncronous schedule. Now we have these channels, with some information expected to be time sensitive (such as, a technology outage of some kind) and other information that could wait 24+ hours. 

For context, I'm 33 but usually have a more "old school" mindset than most of my peers. 

 

adryad's picture

My org went remote early in the pandemic and we now pretty much live in Teams. (My direct reports are using Slack to communicate with their part time staff, after weighing the pros and cons vs. Teams, though.) For the most part, we use Teams for group chat and staying connected across departments, taking meeting notes or working on files with each other in real time, and the type of communication that we would have had in dropping by each other's desk when we were co-located. The chat/IM function is good for items that involve some back and forth, although not too much. Email is better for more fulsome updates, action items and anything you want to track, as well as longer, more involved, directive communications.

Be aware that one of downsides of using tools like Teams or Slack, as opposed to email, is it's easier for people to miss things. There are a number of ways to guard against this, but I still find people miss things once in awhile, particularly if the channels are busy. I've also heard people express they don't want more channels (which are created for specific areas of focus in an effort to prevent people from missing things), saying that they're cluttering up their sidebar and making it harder to keep track of everything going on. (The leadership team that reports to me is almost entirely millenials, so it's not an old fogey-not comfortable with tech situation.)

As senior management, I find Teams (and similarly Slack) effective for ongoing or real time dialogue with the rest of the senior team because we all have a better understanding off which mode of communication is suited to a given conversation. It's also largely effective with my direct reports. As the circle expands though, things get a little muddier, so ultimately my advice is that the method of communication is less important than having clear expectations laid out for the method chosen, so plan and communicate expectations clearly regardless of what you route you go.

Jollymom's picture

Matthew and Adyrad are correct. When people know how to use these tools then you would really appreciate them. Slack and Teams are for faster team communication - but still i prefer email for record tracking and completeness.