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The results of my Slack experiment

I got some interesting feedback yesterday about my #SoftwareManager slack room.

It turns out it kinda sucks.  Ouch.

Not because it’s full of trolls, or because we post random HN stuff.  In fact, the discussions are consistently high-value, interesting, helpful discussions.

So, why does my slack channel suck, and yours probably does as well?
Because you have to pay attention to it continually, and it demands semi-dedicated focus to get the promised value.

But you’re busy trying to do the work of at least three people, and you have very very limited time.  When you do catch your breath, scrolling through 5,177 messages isn’t your idea of fun.  Searching is tough, and context is nearly impossible.  And don’t get me started about threading!

Why I missed it

For me, the channel “manager,” it seemed to be working fine.  I was constantly paying attention to it and assumed everyone else was too.  I assumed everyone was happy, because some people were chatting, and no one was complaining.  I didn’t notice that people were dropping out of it.  They didn’t say “I’m leaving.”, they just quietly left.

From what programmers tell me, your slack channel may have similar problems.  This is especially hard if you have remote workers, multiple offices, or remote managers.  The only way to know if it’s working as you hoped is to ask.  At your next 1:1 or retrospective, ask “Is Slack working for us?”   Try and find out if it’s working for your team as you’ve assumed.  If not, discuss how you might make some changes to get what you need.

You might be as surprised as I was.  This can lead to exploring new opportunities, just like I am.

Now, get out there and talk to your team.  If you’re stuck, write me back.  I answer every email.

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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