It’s 2022, and the use of corporate messaging platforms, like Microsoft Teams, has grown exponentially since 2019 (for obvious reasons). So, it’s time to buckle down and unlock the full potential of Teams (and your team). Follow these best practices to ensure that Teams becomes a tool for employee productivity and the cornerstone of your internal comms plan, and not just another channel that is operating at below its full potential.
Let’s go through some Microsoft Teams best practices that empower both you and your workforce!
Set up profiles properly
For yourself, for new hires, and for senior management, it is your job as an internal communicator to make sure everyone has all their necessary profile information filled out. Obvious things like first names, last names, and email addresses are as important as phone extensions, photos, and statuses (we’ll get to that last part in a minute). In fact, if you’re using Office365, employee credentials can only be edited by IT or HR (that may even be you!).
Be sure to encourage everyone in your company to upload a profile pic where their face is on full display. With so many remote workers never meeting each other face-to-face, it is nice to have that visual reminder that you are talking to a person, not a robot—and studies show that profile pictures that feature smiling faces actually increase the likelihood of others reaching out to you, and really do go a long way in shaping positive first, and ever-lasting, impressions.
Create channels to keep conversation threads organized
When you create a departmental team chat in Microsoft Teams, you can create multiple channels for various topics. For example, you can create a general channel for general chat, an “in-office channel” for hybrid workers to coordinate when they’ll be in the office, and a channel for various projects so that all the conversations regarding that project can easily be found in one place, limiting the possibility of miscommunication.
When creating group chats cross-departmentally, give the chat a clear and concise name so everyone knows which teams are participating, e.g. “Sales and Marketing”, “Marcomms”, “Customer Experience and Marketing”. Everyone is familiar with the dread of sending the wrong chat to the wrong group, and having to awkwardly delete the message, apologize, or, if the message was particularly catty, having to potentially talk to HR about gossiping behind other teammates’ backs…
Outline how and when Teams is to be used
Pings are annoying. No one wants a million little notifications a day, and as an internal communicator, it is crucial you keep that in mind. Be mindful of the fact that your colleagues are likely already getting tons of messages from various group chats every hour, and that you need to set clear guidelines amongst your internal comms team on when it is apropos to use Teams to collaborate and when it is not.
Guidelines like this should be outlined in a document, and such a document is most useful when it lives on your intranet, with a clear title (e.g., Microsoft Teams Best Practices)—and you may even consider setting it up as a “read and agree” document as part of your onboarding process for new hires within your department. This document would contain guidelines for when to use Teams and when to use other channels, such as email, the intranet, or even a phone call.
You might find that file sharing in Teams is not particularly useful and that it is more efficient to use the document management built into your intranet. Alternatively, maybe crisis communications should utilize a Push Messaging Extension to ensure that everyone in the organization sees the notification in a timely manner on the platform they check the most.
This document would also highlight whether you expect team members to download the Teams app on their smartphones—and if they do, it’s even more important to outline if they should be expected to check their messages after normal working hours (we suggest NOT! Work-life balance, remember).
Statuses: a managers do’s and do not’s
Let’s address the elephant in the room in regard to Teams’ statuses: if you are using statuses to track when employees are working, stop right now. Firstly, you are running a business, not a daycare, and the exact hours your employees are at work should not concern you, so long as they’re getting their projects completed and attending their meetings. Secondly, encourage teammates to use their statuses as they see fit—there’s no shame in setting your status to “Do Not Disturb” when you need some quiet focus time, or setting your status to “Busy” to signal to colleagues that it may take a bit longer to reply to their messages. Good internal comms should empower employees to be the master of their own communications as well as keeping everyone informed and on the same page.
Software that empowers
There is no doubt that corporate messaging platforms such as Teams, or Slack, will continue to become more and more popular in the workforce over the coming years. It is important that as internal communicators, we get ahead of these trends and ensure that we can use the newest software available to us to keep the workplace productive and harmonious. We hope this guide on Microsoft Teams best practices has provided you with your first steps!
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