How startups achieve hockey stick growth with better communication and collaboration in Slack

Startups need every advantage they can gain if they want to achieve exponential growth depicted in pitch deck charts by the iconic shape of the most important piece of equipment for Canada’s favorite pass-time, the hockey stick.

There are a lot of things that a startup needs to get right in order to succeed, but they all hinge on clear communication and agile collaboration. Modern startups know you can’t rely on email to power these objectives, and because of its extensibility, founders choose Slack to be the operating system for their organization. Consider these common communication and collaboration-based workflows that are finding a home in Slack:

  • 🛫 Onboarding new employees
  • 🧍Standup and Scrum
  • 🎯 Collecting and synthesizing customer feedback
  • 🆘 Providing internal support
  • 🚅 Doing everything faster

With these common flows in mind, let’s explore how Slack helps enable the most robust communication and collaboration possible for early stage companies.

Employee onboarding

When you build a startup, you’re never doing it alone; you build a team. That team helps accelerate the founders toward the goal of reaching product-market-fit as fast as humanly possible. Whether new employees are working in a common workspace or situated remotely, getting a team member ready to be a valued contributor means helping them acquire and access the knowledge they need to deliver results.

Onboarding flows can be delivered right within Slack with a variety of KM tools, but the goal is always to deliver a fast, comprehensive and repeatable process that can be completed within the scope of their work operating system – in this case, Slack.

Standups and Agile Methods

As teams grow, whether they are centralized or remote, standup becomes more and more difficult to do in-person. So, Slack becomes the de facto place to communicate status in accordance with your agile methodology. Some of the Slack integrations that might help you with doing virtual standups include Standuply, Standup Alice or even Polly. Whichever tool you choose, Slack enables teams to stay on top of progress and continue to ship product with minimal losses in productivity.

Customer feedback loop

In the ideology of survival, they say: you can live without food for 3 weeks, without water for 3 days, but often you won’t survive 3 hours without shelter (in a harsh environment). In the startup world, feedback is the equivalent to shelter; you need it to survive.

Feedback is so critical to survival that it needs to be communicated continuously across all teams coming in from customer support to engineering, marketing, product and sales to keep abreast of what is working and what isn’t. It needs to be like a source of ambient noise that guides the team in a positive direction, and that can be achieved nicely within Slack.

Dedicating a Slack channel to feedback is a must-have and everyone should be encouraged to keep a close eye on the content flowing through it. While Slack is a great medium for a conversational feedback loop, it shouldn’t be relied upon to act as a knowledge store for the data. It’s poor practice to depend on Slack’s search functionality to find customer feedback at scale – it it better to transfer the feedback data to a dedicated knowledge base for faster and more accurate access.

Internal support

Startup employees are going to need help and inevitably, they’re going to ask for it though conversations in Slack. Optimally, you’d like to see those employees self-serving support by connecting to a knowledge base or wiki instead of constantly shoulder-tapping and creating distractions for others. The speed at which your team approaches product-market-fit is of the utmost importance, and if 25% of an employees time is wasted looking for answers or providing support, your team remains at risk of not meeting milestones with runway nearing an end.

You’ll likely begin seeing patterns of frequently asked questions occurring in your #help channel and those will be signs of knowledge gaps that a) need to be filled, and b) need to be easier to find or access. Slack-wikis and integrated knowledge bases have become more popular with those realizing that you need to put knowledge where questions are asked, and for good reason; accelerating access to knowledge gets you to your goal faster.

Doing anything and everything faster

The key to doing this faster is to execute with as little context-switching as possible, thus increasing focus and productivity. As we mentioned earlier, Slack has been celebrated because of its extensibility as demonstrated by its deep integration ecosystem. These integrations enable startup employees to remain in the flow of work, so they can achieve more every day. By integrating as many of the tools that you use every day with your communication and collaboration platform, the less context switching they will experience. Whether its accessing knowledge in Confluence, managing issues in Jira, connecting with customers through Intercom or sharing a Google Sheet full of data, these tasks can be connected to conversations and enable the richest form of communication and collaboration imaginable.