Achieving Success through Collaborative Communication in Large Team: Q&A with Arturo Arrarte, Head of Growth at Slack, Asia Pacific

February 13, 20208:01 am1488 views
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Communication is the most important aspect of any business. While managing communication with a small team can be relatively easy, managers might face bigger challenges when in charge of handling a bigger team. In a large team, each individual wants to be heard and they come with a different set of solutions and ideas. As a result, managers need to work extra to achieve success and minimise poor communication. 

Arturo Arrarte, Head of Growth at Slack for the Asia Pacific region, who has had years of experience managing large teams, mentioned that optimising communication is about connecting the ideas of one another while managing a good relationship within. Through this candid interview, Arrarte shared more on how to manage communication with a large team.

Isolation coming from poor communication within teams is often said to be among the top challenges in remote working, how can a collaborative tool like Slack come to the rescue of such cases?

The rise of the remote workforce, whether it’s within a geographically-dispersed team, or employees choosing to work remotely, has paved way for greater freedom for employees to work together across locations.  But by its very nature, a remote workforce is less connected to a company’s central hub of activity, which may lead to feelings of alienation and isolation for employees.

This is why developing connectedness and engagement in the workplace is critical to retaining key talent. At its core, Slack is the first in a whole new category that is leading a generational shift in the way people work together. Its core feature called Channels, brings people, data, and applications together in a single place where employees working on concurrent projects can come together and access important information that will allow them to do their job remotely.

Employees who lack clarity and context can often feel out of the loop. Slack also offers employees, regardless of their location, a rich, permanent, searchable record of knowledge. This means that all shared files and messages will always be accessible via public channels for employees working remotely. Employees can simply browse through their channels and stay in the loop.

This accessibility of knowledge helps reduce siloed, distinct, partial and fragmented views of key information within organisations of all sizes.

Geographically dispersed teams are vulnerable to creating new silos, what is the best strategy to breakdown the silo mentality?

Despite the connectedness of the world today, the silo mentality continues to plague organisations of all sizes, preventing the collaboration necessary for organisations to truly thrive. The first thing leaders need to recognise is that working in silos is unavoidable — the silo mentality is a tribal behaviour that comes more naturally than collaborating. The real problem to team collaboration here is the disconnection between silos, which leads to slow information flows between teams, resulting in a failure to adapt. To successfully break down the silo mentality, ensure teams in the organisation both want to work together and can do so easily. This will help connect silos together effectively, turning them into teams.

Here are some strategies that can gradually help breakdown the silo mentality within an organisation:

● Optimise internal communications

Start by making transparency and communication a priority on an organisational level. This can start with a carefully chosen set of project management tools and a clear set of communication best practices to match. Leaders should also encourage teams to be conscious of how their colleagues communicate.

● Set the tone from the top

Employees often look to their leaders on how they should act or think. If the nature of work in your company is collaboration, then that tone and environment should be set from the get-go. Collaborative leadership is a practice that brings managers, executives and staff out of silos to work together. In collaborative workplaces, information is shared organically and everyone takes responsibility for the whole.

There are a few ways to do this such as providing a thorough and safe onboarding process that sets the tone for a workplace culture of psychological safety and inclusion, and consistently enforcing that culture through the way leaders think and act.

● Establishing or honouring regular check-ins

Regardless of the size of your organisation, it is encouraged for teams to ritualise communications and planned check-ins on an ongoing basis. When put into practice, employees will eventually feel more comfortable with the act of collaboration.

Learning from your own experience when managing your team at Slack, how do you lead a big team while ensuring they remain connected?

Internally, we organise our conversations via channels. We have channels for a myriad of activities such as projects, teams, planning, office locations or business units. The ones our company leadership take very seriously are our feedback channels. We have dedicated channels called #slack-culture and #slack-ama, where employees are encouraged to ask our execs anything. These channels provide a space for employees to share opinions and feedback— ensuring our staff are heard.

Alongside this, we have also seen how channels have allowed employees to get to know each other better, and help build a wider sense of camaraderie and cohesion across different Slack offices.

According to Slack’s Future of Work study, more employees want to work at a place where collaboration happens. What is the best thing leaders can do to foster a collaborative culture?

A positive work environment begins with a collaborative foundation, building high-performing teams that honour collaboration as part of the culture hinges on the team atmosphere their leaders cultivate. Building that dream team is a two-way street and to set your team up for success will come down to the way they’re supported.

The simplest things to drive that forward is that positive work environment leaders cultivate, helping employees feel like a valued member on the team. This can be done through: 

● Developing a collaborative culture

Values and priorities will differ from one company to the next. The main thing is to create a culture that unites employees and sets a clear organisation direction and goal everyone is working towards collectively.

● Encouraging a culture of collaboration and communication culture

Simple, straightforward, and honest communication builds a team’s foundation. It also creates a sense of community that will contribute to the team’s success and make new hires feel supported in the absence of the management team.

Establishing a culture of efficient and effective communication is essential, such as including co-workers in the appropriate conversations, and posting team priorities in a public space or platform that anyone can refer back to.  

● Prioritising onboarding and training processes

While not every organisation has the resources to dedicate too much time into the onboarding process, employees’ first two weeks, should be planned out at a minimum. If possible, make sure to include scheduled time for the following, during the onboarding process:

○ Shadowing their colleagues,

○ Sitting in on meetings

○ Locating important company files and onboarding documents

○ Be educated on workplace safety and code of conducts to help them understand how your organisation works and what is expected of them

Read also: 7 Hacks for Entrepreneurs to Successfully Manage Remote Teams 

About Arturo Arrarte: 

Arturo Arrarte joined Slack in 2017 as Head of Growth for the Asia Pacific region. Having contributed to driving growth at Salesforce, KPMG and IBM, Arturo has first-hand experience of guiding companies through periods of rapid growth and scale. With academic degrees in computer science and mechatronic engineering, with a specialisation in AI, as well as a master’s in business, Arturo’s unique background makes him a perfect fit for Slack.

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