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How to succeed with Microsoft Teams?

08 Jul 2019

More and more organizations are looking for new ways to enable their teams to work smarter together using modern tools. Applications such as Microsoft Teams and Slack are becoming very popular. Since we work daily on helping customers get more out of Office 365 and/or Microsoft 365, I often get asked what the key steps are to successful adoption of Teams in an organization. So here it is:


Top 5 key success factors for Teams adoption

1) Make sure Teams is a good fit

Before you get all excited and start creating teams left and right, you need to understand how Microsoft Teams works and make a conscious decision if it is a good fit for you or not.

Teams is fantastic for functional groups or project-based groups that work closely together no matter where in the world the team members are located. Teams is not ideal if your interactions are infrequent. Teams is built for the modern world and requires an internet connection for you to have a good experience.  Most of the time this is a non-issue, but for some it is.

I recently spoke to a manager that had introduced Teams to his sales team. When I asked how it went and he said that even though he really liked Teams it wasn’t a great fit for him since most of the time he’s on an airplane or in a remote location without internet. Using Outlook, he can go through his inbox, draft responses to email and read through proposals – offline. So, they hadn’t been able to fully transition to Teams.

In today’s connected society I think it’s quite rare that lack of Internet connectivity should be a showstopper for most organizations – but it’s important that you are aware of the pros and cons of Teams before you get onboard.

2) Enlighten your team members

Using Teams is completely transformational. The way you communicate, the way you filter information, the way you express yourself, the way you collaborate. You are asking people to completely change the way they work. This is huge!

Provide your users with proper guidance, best practices and real-life examples of how Teams should be used.

If you start using Teams without making any changes to notification settings or if people around you start creating Teams left and right – I can promise you that your Teams introduction will be a disaster!

Personally, I don’t allow anyone into Teams unless they have gone through our required Storyals topic on Teams and gotten their certificate.

Enhance teamwork - topic | © Storyals

3) Lead by example

If you have created a team and invited others to join you, you need to lead by example. I usually compare a team to a house, where you work together with others. You need to make your house is “cozy” so that people like being there. Set some house rules. Here are some examples:

Teams House RulesOur “Teams house rules” tab within Teams

Click here to learn more and download a sample text on Microsoft Teams House Rules that you can use for your organization.

a. Be active and engaged

No one likes a “quiet and empty” house. Make sure to engage as much as possible. I always write a “Weekly update” that I post in our “General” channel where I share the things that we have going on that week. Encourage people to share by sharing yourself!

Many people that are used to email don’t like to “spam” others. With Teams it’s totally different. Team members decide themselves what they want to listen to so you can never “over-communicate”. Use video whenever possible. If you are sitting at home and you don’t want to show your ugly sofa – just blur the background! 

b. Use conversations for everything that could be of interest to others in the team.

The whole idea of Teams is that you want to create an open dialog. If people use group chats for all their communication instead of the conversation window – you create silos within your team. Go back to the analogy of the house. You want everyone to be able to listen in and join other people’s conversations – you don’t want people whispering behind closed doors.

Group chats are great for things that add no value to the ones outside that chat. For instance, “Stuck in the metro” “Running late” – “Lunch anyone?”

c. Be kind and supportive

This is a no-brainer but still good to have as a house rule. In Teams, you have so many ways to show your support using – reactions, GIFs, stickers, Memes, and much more. Know your team members and use these different ways of communication wisely. For instance, some people might be totally ok with getting a heart emoji from their colleague or manager, whereas others might feel uncomfortable. Agree with your team what the expressions mean!

When in doubt – stick with the thumbs up!Teams reaction gif | © Storyals

Those are some examples of house rules. Feel free to use – or just create your own!

Check out the blog Microsoft Teams “House Rules” to go a bit in-depth on these house rules including a section on what these reactions or so-called expressions (or simply emojis) in Microsoft Teams mean.

4) Go “all-in”

In order for you to succeed with Teams – everyone needs to go “all in”. Meaning that you need to use Teams 100% for your communication and collaboration. Your team members need to know that everything they need to know about the work you are doing is in Teams – not in Outlook, WhatsApp, a text message or any other place. Team members should save all documents they work on to Teams (indirectly to the SharePoint library that is set up for each team) – not their own OneDrive or (even worse) their own hard drive. This can take some resistance since people are not used to sharing things that are still “in progress” – but this is key for enhancing collaboration.

5) Be persistent

Changing behavior is hard! People are so used to email. Also, since we still use email to communicate with the “outside world” many of us have one foot in Outlook and one in Teams. You can forward an email to a channel in Teams, by design that’s about as far as the integration goes.

In order to succeed – you need to be very persistent. When I receive emails from team members, I reply to them in Teams. After a while, they learn that it’s better to just use Teams to begin with.

These are some tips on how to succeed with Teams adoption. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us – we are here to help 😊. Or “Book a demo” with us if you are interested in seeing Storyals in action!


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