Employee happiness is the number one reason why your talents (especially developers) will stay in your company. Conversely, boring project, inefficient process or bad management will make them leave. In this era of talents war, you had better listen to their needs and answer their expectations if you want to bet on the loyalty of your key employees.
How about using smart tools to improve your employees’ engagement?
People working in IT are very often logical persons. In this article, we are going to use methods who have been existing since the beginning of the 1970s with iterative and incremental ways to collect and update data. There are plenty of online tools available to help you such as bots. AI is fantastic at processing data, way faster than the human brain and it’s an incredible resource to automate goals achievements.
So let’s talk about collective intelligence, real-time collaboration, API, chatbots, etc. Also, you will need to adopt the « growth hacker mindset » with an elementary rule to keep in mind: « no problem should ever have to be solved twice”.
FROM A COMPANY CULTURE TO COMMUNITY CULTURE
GET RID OF EMAILS
Today, real-time collaboration is key to speed up decision process and problem-solving. You can observe this radical change through a component of internet consumption in our daily life: instant messaging applications. For instance, I personally use WhatsApp, Skype, Slack, Messenger, Hangouts, WeChat, Discord and text messages every day. That makes 8 different messaging apps and each one is used to share contextual information.
“The main problem with email is that it’s an information fridge.”
Somehow, a lot of managers still prefer their good old emails to communicate within a company. The main problem with email is that it’s an information fridge. Your inbox is constantly full of messages, which results in no action, no responsibilities, and inefficiency for file sharing.
At the end of the day, your company is losing money and time. We can do better than that!
SET UP A COMMUNITY PLATFORM
What if you could solve the collaboration problem with a single tool?
Let me introduce you to Slack, a mobile and web instant-messaging application for work in which your can connect chatbots and do a lot of other cool stuff.
Note: In this article, I am going to use Slack but it’s up to you to choose a different application like Telegram, HipChat or Discord.
Now you may doubt that you will succeed in implementing this major change within your company. Just don’t assume it’s not for you, that your employees are not tech-friendly enough, because why wouldn’t it work anyway?
FOLLOW THE BEST PRACTICES
First and foremost, you need to go step by step. The entire process took me one month but developing a growth hacker mindset does not come easy. You are probably going to face resistance to change. But it does not mean it cannot be overcome.
Start with finding some coworkers willing to try the platform and designate a project leader, preferably in the HR or IT departments. He will need to get the big picture before deploying the system across the whole company. You are very likely to discover some issues and it will be easier to solve them if you have the support of a small team of colleagues.
“You are probably going to face resistance to change. But it does not mean it cannot be overcome.”
Ready to start?
With the following method, I managed to onboard an entire company of 200+ employees on a platform like Slack.
1. Invite your colleagues with this automated method
Set up a simple landing page with a single call to action such as “Subscribe to Slack”. You can use a simple tool like Slackin for that. It is important to have a memorable name so that everyone can share it quickly. You can use this type of URL: welcome.company_name.com
2. Ask your early adopters for help with referrals
Once your landing page is ready, let’s get everyone visit it. The early adopters who sign up first will probably be your team members (ex: the IT team). Now, consider them as your ambassadors since you have a mission for them: spreading the news. A mission as simple as inviting workers from other departments to visit your website and sign up. This is what is called referral and it is one of the main components of the success of your project. So let it be viral!
3. Behave like a growth hacker with your company email list
With the previous steps, you are going to have a lot of people on your chat platform, but not the entire company (yet).
The next thing you should do is asking the HR or IT team for the entire email list of the company. Share this list with 5 people to invite every co-worker to sign up. You will end up with having more than half of the employees signed up on your chat platform. Mechanically the rest will follow shortly after.
With this technique, you have been following the product adoption curve (see below) like a real entrepreneur. Who’s the boss now?
CREATE A KILLER ONBOARDING WITH AUTOMATED TOOLS
It doesn’t take much more to gather a real community on Slack with these little hacks. But you need to go further. Your next job is to create an automated onboarding to create a memorable experience for both your current co-workers and the future hires. This is the first step of a great company culture.
Let’s familiarize with the tools that will help you with your mission:
1. TYPEFORM FOR ITERATION
The starting point is simple. On the day of their sign-up, each employee will receive an email including a TypeForm link. This platform is a must-have product for building simple and beautiful forms. They present a series of questions displayed one at a time to keep users engaged.
Here is a sample of questions you can ask:
• How satisfied are you with your first days in the company?
• Do you feel any information was missing from the onboarding program?
This is called iteration.
One of the most valuable resources is the feedback provided by your newcomers. At each iteration, you improve the system by collecting the information about how to process next. This way, you will have all the data to improve your onboarding. It looks like an iterative and incremental process, isn’t it?
2. ZAPIER FOR AUTOMATION
For now, it is a classic onboarding. But if you use the power of Typeform connected to Zapier (an online tool to connect every API together), you can really speed up the process by automating a lot of tasks.
There is an infinity of use cases:
• Auto-subscribing to Mailchimp for internal newsletter
• Sending a direct message with a bot, asking employees to introduce themselves on a dedicated channel (ex: #newcomers)
• Adding them to the work backlog, depending on their job:
• Pivotal Tracker for developers
• Pipedrive for the sales teams
• Uploading a selfie of new employees and building a website with the pictures and skills of the entire team
If you want to go further you can even scrap LinkedIn to build an internal search tool with employees’ skills. Let the growth hacking mindset inspire you!
3. EMPLOYEE FAQ FOR ONBOARDING
I love FAQs: it’s such a gold mine of information. The main limit is that its content needs to be permanently updated, same as a website. Yet, a FAQ must be a living document since you never know which questions will be prevalent at first.
When you are building a complex web application, it’s really difficult to anticipate how your customer will use your product. Let’s take the example of OVH, a famous cloud computing company. One day, a developer decided to create a simple chatbot used by both clients and his colleagues.
Most importantly, the chatbot was open source. It means that when a company builds a product using OVH technologies, they can use the OVH chatbot for their support and even contribute to the FAQ. It’s a win/win situation since everyone is creating more value for their users.
Richard Branson once said that « employees are your best customers« . This is all the truer since they are the first ambassadors of your brand or product. You need to provide them with the tools to evangelize and solve problems in real time.
Now imagine if you had a bot that could gather all the knowledge of your company, from the opening hours of the office to pension schemes or calendar events. Like an internal Google with assistive technology. This is what your employee FAQ should look like. Make it your objective!
Every new employee gains autonomy – from his first day! He can access the entire knowledge base of your company depending on his job.
GENERATE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE HELP OF BOTS
Here comes the funny part! You now have a community platform for all your employees with an automated onboarding. Now let’s apply the same receipt (feedback and automation) to your colleagues’ motivation and productivity.
1. STANDUPLY : A CHATBOT FOR DAILY MEETINGS
Even if you are not working in an agile environment, I recommend you to use Standuply — the slackbot for remote agile teams.
Let’s imagine that you have a team of 10 people including remote workers. You can have a big meeting every week for the roadmap key points and use the chatbot for daily tasks with these great features:
· Running standup meetings
· Running retrospectives
· Tracking team’s mood
· Setting and tracking goals
· Tracking 3rd party metrics
Every day, the bot will ask you 3 simple questions. Remember that “Data is power” and make the most of it for your important decisions.
2. MEEKAN: A CHATBOT FOR RUNNING YOUR CALENDAR
Event scheduling is boring. This is why Doodle has decided to work on AI with chatbots.
Meekan matches everyone’s calendars to find free time slots quickly. Rescheduling? No problem. Conflicts? Sorted out in seconds. All you have to do is asking for a new meeting directly in a Slack channel and the robot will handle it.
Ex: “Meekan, please arrange an all-hands meeting for tomorrow afternoon.”
3. PAPERBOT: A BOT FOR KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Business intelligence is crucial, especially if you are working in a fast-moving market. Every day your co-workers send links to each other. What if you could have all these sendings summed-up by email?
This is the mission of paperbot.ai, a bot that automatically collects and categorizes shared links from your Slack channels. You can even opt in to receive a weekly digest email. Sharing knowledge has never been that easy!
4. SMALL.CHAT: A CHATBOT FOR CUSTOMER SUCCESS
small.chat is another great tool to create a direct line of communication between your team and your website’s visitors. You will provide an improved experience and be able to answer your customers faster.
– What are your opening hours?
– Where is your office?
– Who is in charge of ______?
All the answers to these questions can be automated with a chatbot. If there is a question that the chatbot cannot answer, small.chat will send a notification to your support team through a dedicated Slack channel. You can then track the FAQ and update your website/chatbot.
In the example above, nobody is at the office, but the customer is requested to send his email to get an answer as soon as possible.
Congratulations, you have mastered the fundamentals of the growth-hacking mindset. You don’t solve twice the same problem anymore: now you know how to make the most of automation. Corporate culture has moved from a company culture to a community culture. This includes progress in knowledge management, communication, problem-solving and efficiency. Good job, your team will be thankful for all these improvements!
With this iterative mindset shared with your team, expect your most engaged co-workers to embrace this attitude by constantly reflecting on how to be more efficient everyday. I have a funny example of a developer who automated his colleague Kasia, office manager. He created a bot of a real person to automatically send reminders. Even when she is on vacation, the reminder works. There are tons of possibilities like these!
Now that you have managed to get some free time, you can focus on what really matters: building projects with impact. How about starting with creating a community playbook for instance?
Let’s take the example of Valve — the video game developer that has created the software distribution platform Steam. On their first day, each new employee receives a playbook with a roadmap for his next 6 month in the company. Personally, I would definitely want to work — and stay — in a company like that.
Feel free to try such great initiatives.
Many thanks to Benjamin Perrin for helping me write this article!