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10.01.2022 Organisation & processes

Using Slack – Effective Communication Techniques

Using Slack – Effective Communication Techniques

Communication is key! You’ve probably heard that more than a million times, but that’s because it’s true. Without constant updates and communication, any project can quickly unravel. 

The past few years have been difficult for everyone, and communication techniques have become even more essential to get right while we’ve been tackling a completely different working environment at home. 

This pandemic has completely shifted the way we look at work, with an overwhelming amount of people voicing their opinions about remote working. Just scrolling through platforms like LinkedIn you’ll find countless articles on how allowing your workforce to have a more hybrid work setting can improve productivity and trust. 

However, it can also make people feel lonely with a feeling of not being culturally involved in the organisation they are working for. 

Using Slack makes communication 23% faster, you’ll see around a 20% drop in meetings that were never really needed in the first place, and you’ll notice a huge drop in how many emails you’ll receive – by about 45% – hallelujah!

Properly organising your Slack channels and teams can give people the company they have been missing while being isolated. It also gives them an organised and simple structure to work with. Bonus points if you’re also looking to develop Slack or communication etiquette guidelines

So, how can we effectively use Slack to communicate with our team members? And, how can we ensure that we’re using the right tones and language depending on the team members that we’re working with?

Read on to discover the different business communication techniques, something that will help you on your journey of growing your business in a successful way, with happy employees. 

Effective business communication techniques

Communication techniques, tone, and language all change depending on who you’re speaking to, as well as the situation. 

Even though we’re talking about communication techniques in the realm of Slack, it should also advise you on how to communicate with people in person around the office too.

In a workplace there are usually four different communication strategies that you should be aware of.

So, what are these strategies, and what’s the difference between them? 

Upwards

Communicating upwards is as straightforward as it sounds – talking to members of the team that sit in a higher position than yourself. It could be a line manager, a boss or someone in a C-level position. 

A lack of upwards communication can negatively affect business outcomes. This is especially true if your organisation has rigid hierarchical structures as it encourages department separations, and enforces divisions between people in higher or lower positions. 

To effectively communicate upwards it’s best to always be open and honest. Especially the people in the higher positions should always welcome feedback and respect people’s different ideas and opinions. 

When this is done effectively people find it much easier to speak up about things. You’ll find that relationships across the entire organisation will be healthier because open and honest communication will take precedence over positions or responsibilities. 

When communicating upwards it helps to bring some suggestions for possible solutions so that you can discuss action plans instead of just the issue itself.  

Remember: 

  • Stay open and honest
  • Give regular feedback updates to your line managers or higher
  • Bring solutions as well as complaints

Downwards 

Unsurprisingly, downward communication is the opposite of upwards – you’ll be talking to someone that is in a lower position than yourself. 

They might be in your team (if you’re the team lead), a working student or an intern. If you’re in a C-level position then you will be communicating downwards to almost everyone in the organisation. 

Effectively communicating downwards is essential to the success of the company and happiness of your workforce. Most of the time downwards communication is used to deliver information to your teams. This could include structural changes, new goals or strategies, or simply during standups and update meetings.

If you’re in a higher position, remember: 

  • Always keep your tone positive and make sure to listen closely to any concerns of your team. 
  • Keep in mind that it can be daunting to give feedback to people in higher positions than yourself. 
  • Put yourself in their shoes –  how would their concerns affect their day-to-day life?

Horizontal 

You may have heard of horizontal communication techniques being referred to as ‘lateral’ communication. These are essentially the same.

This type of communication refers to peer-to-peer communication. It is the sharing of information across different departments, where the two team members are of the same level. For example, between a hiring manager and the HR department.

Horizontal communications depend on how your company’s organisational structure has been set up. You may find that, if you’re working in younger start-ups, that a lot of the communication will follow the horizontal approach as they’re more likely to adopt a flat hierarchy. 

Most of the time the purpose of horizontal communication is to request support or organise shared projects or events and can either be within the same teams, or across different ones. 

The best thing about working with a horizontal approach is that it allows different teams to synchronise together, which leads to faster results and a better understanding of projects, deadlines and blockers. 

When communicating in a horizontal way, remember: 

  • You’re talking to your peers, you can be casual and help each other learn. 
  • Horizontal communication is usually to organise projects. 
  • Horizontal communication is useful for the overall growth and improvement of your organisation overall. 

External

This form of communication is pretty straightforward to explain as it involves communicating with anyone outside of your organisation. However, a lot of people don’t fully understand how to effectively communicate with people who are working freelance or as part of an agency. 

You should give more context and explain yourself more clearly when communicating with someone externally. That’s because they simply won’t fully grasp the concept of your company and what your internal goals are.

This isn’t a negative trait of working with external agencies as it’s basically the same as having a new member in your team. They can do the work just as well, they just need some onboarding and stronger explanatory communication to catch them up to speed. 

Remember that simple tickets or emails won’t really be enough for external members of your organisation. It’s better to explain a project or complex task in person or over a call. They will get a much better understanding of your goals and expected outcomes like this, than if you sent them a lengthy Slack message. 

When communicating with external organisations or clients, remember: 

  • They don’t have the same understanding of your goals and objectives as an organisation. 
  • It’s better to over explain to external team members. 
  • Take your kick-off meeting in the form of a phone call or in person meeting rather than an email or Slack message. 

How Slack can help

Make sure to encourage members of your team to use their position tag in Slack. This way everyone knows who the team leaders are and who is working in which departments. This already makes the communication process easier, as it becomes clearer who to approach. 

Keep in mind which way you’re communicating – either upwards, downwards, horizontally or externally. That way you can easily assume how much detail needs to go into your messages. It will also help you to decide on your tone, how you ask questions and how you can ask for and give feedback or updates.

Now that you know more about how Slack can be used for different forms of communication it’s time to have a closer look at how to write and structure your Slack messages. 

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