Making the most of Slack: A playbook for L&D teams

This the second part in my making the most of your collaboration tools for L&D teams. This time we take a look at Slack.

Make sure to check out the first part on making the most of Microsoft Teams, which contains lots of insights and tips on making this a valuable enabler for learning.

As we’ve pivoted to a remote working model globally for the interim, I thought I’d share some tips, tricks and resources that will help any learning team (and really any person working remotely) make the most of Slack.

L&D teams can do much to support their people right now and for the future in making the most of the workplace tech on offer to them. If you’ve had experience with something like Slack for a while and never really considered it as a tool to support the employee experience then think again.

New to Slack?

You’ll want to start by checking out this 3 minute introduction video and checking out the free interactive demo from Slack. The great thing about this demo, is that it provides an interactive environment for you to explore the tool and get guidance on all it’s features before downloading.

Unlike other collaboration apps, you can download Slack now and use the free version to play around with. A great option for the naturally curious if you want to see how this tool works in a live environment.

Getting the basics right

Depending upon your company’s adoption of Slack, you’ll either have a lot of people embracing it to its potential or those who use it as instant messaging only. Regardless of the current environment. As an L&D professional and/or team, you have the opportunity to change behaviours and demonstrate value with Slack.

First off, if you’re not familiar with the features and functionality of Slack, I recommend you explore the resources in the ‘New to Slack’ section above and take a look through this Slack 101 to get you started with the basics. I’d also recommend checking out the official ‘Using Slack’ learning space too. My advice from here on out, assumes you have a basic knowledge of navigating this tool.

Putting down the right foundations

Slack is a very powerful tool with lots of features which allow you to do a million and one things. So, it’s important to put the right foundations in place which will work for your audience and scale up from there.

Here’s a few things I’d recommend you to invest in from day 1:

  1. Dedicated channels for leadership development and career development.
  2. Dedicated channel for all company learning so the super curious can connect with each other and ask questions on-demand.
  3. A channel for new starters to support in their first 90 days.
  4. Workflows to on-board new starters to your channel(s) – we’ll explore more of this later.
  5. Customise Slackbot to answer simple commonly asked questions.

Connecting your people with learning through Slack

Now you’ve got the foundations in place, let’s look at some ideas you can explore to create learning moments that matter through Slack.

Schedule a did you know post 🙋

Once a week schedule a post with content on available resources and events which will be of interest to your audience. You can post this on all company channels to capture new eyes and on your existing dedicated learning channels to engage those communities.

Share latest events and useful resources 📝

This is where you can add real value in my opinion. Use your channels wisely and communicate the right stuff at the right time. Do this right and I guarantee you’ll find more people being receptive to what you have to offer and asking to join the communities you manage.

If we look at a dedicated channel for leadership development in particular. You can use that space to keep this population up to date with latest thinking, insight and know-how. A great space to cultivate shared learning between peers and encourage continual development.

Bonus Tip: Use the ‘Schedule future messages’ workflow template from Slack in your workflow builder to save you time with stacking up messages to release in the future.

Create a poll 📊

What better way to get people talking and collecting valuable data for your team then by asking questions with a poll. To get a temperature check of your current services, reach out to your audience now and again to ask for their thoughts.

Invite leaders and influencers to share know-how 👐

A powerful way to enable knowledge sharing within your channels is by using your leaders and business influencers to share what learning resources they are currently using and/or can endorse. This could be books, articles, events you host and much more.

You can deploy this across all of your company channels.

Use workflows to automate tasks and guide your people 👋

One of my favourite features in Slack, is building automated workflows. They are a thing of beauty in my opinion.

Slack describes workflow builder as a simple set of tools to automate routine processes into workflows in Slack. A workflow is an automated version of a multi-step task or process. You can streamline tasks such as Quickly collecting information from team members and welcoming members to channels

Building workflows is easy and the good people at Slack make it even easier by providing free ready built templates for you to use. These templates will provide value immediately and allow you to learn how to build your own too.

I’ve used workflows as part of workplace on-boarding and as part of community management across multiple channels. You can find some examples of this for learning teams with these resources from the Slack Academy:

How to onboard new hires with Slack

Creating an onboarding experience

6 onboarding best practices to borrow from Culture Amp

5 ways Slack helps you onboard new employees

3 workflows you can build right now

A full library of workflow examples

If you want to explore workflows in more detail, jump over to my Slack for learning series on YouTube.

Make Slackbot part of your team 🤖

Create simple connections to help with Slackbot like the above.

Another feature I greatly appreciate is Slackbot, which has in many ways become part of my extended learning team.

You can easily customise this bot to respond to common questions that people post across all channels. How many times has someone messaged you asking for a link to this learning tool or this resource? If like me, probably hundreds. This is where Slackbot can help you.

Customise your Slackbot to answer these basic questions without you having to intervene. Embrace automation and your life will become simpler my friends.

If you want to explore making Slackbot part of your team in more detail, jump over to my Slack for learning series on YouTube.

Deliver virtual immersive experiences 💻

This might be slightly controversial for some but why not dump the classroom and move your next event to be delivered through Slack. With a great video system and a wide suite of integrations available through the Slack app store. You can bring a truly memorable, valuable and fully digital experience to people wherever they are.

That’s it…for now

I’ll stop here as I could go on for pages about the ways you can engage your audience with learning opportunities through Slack. Hopefully, the above has given you much food for thought and the encouragement to explore further. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of the norm. Tech can be a great enabler, if you know how to use it properly.

If you’re still stuck and need more support, then do not fear my friends. Below I’ve compiled a bunch of useful resources that have helped me and I’m positive will help you too.

Useful resources

Slack learning blog: Slack’s dedicated centre for learning all things about Slack. You’ll want to bookmark this one, trust me.

Slack tips: A large and useful selection of tips on getting the most from Slack.

Learn the basics of Slack: Get started with basics. 

21 ways to simplify everyday tasks with Slack Bots: Embrace the bots and make them part of your learning team.

Slack for learning video series: Check out my short video series on YouTube where you’ll learn how to create and implement the things I’ve mentioned in this article.


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Making the most of Microsoft Teams

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