8 Atlassian tool hacks to improve team culture

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Sherif Mansour is the principal product manager at Atlassian and has been with the software company for eight years.

So if there’s one person who has tips on how to use the company’s tools to improve team culture, he’s your guy.

Speaking at the Atlassian Summit in Barcelona recently, Mansour discussed the different ways to use JIRA, Hipchat and Confluence to make large organisations feel like small teams, build and maintain an innovative culture, and inject some fun and humour into the workplace.

“A lot is written about culture,” he said, “…but what culture is about is how work gets done. It is about what you hold true, and the values you hold as a company.”

“One big disclaimer is that it has nothing to do with the tools, it is all about the people. I cannot stress this enough. The tools just help to foster the culture you already have.”

Here are 8 Atlassian tool hacks to improve team culture, according to Mansour:

1. Saying hello

Mansour says Confluence can help to scale the classic “meet and greet” that companies do for new employees.

“At Atlassian we encourage all employees to write a welcome blog post… to get to know people a little bit better,” he says.

“With the standard meet and greet… you don’t get to know about their passions and hobbies. The key thing about the blog post is that its not a CV… it’s about who you are and what you like doing.

“It allows people to comment and reply, (including) people who are not necessarily in your team.”

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

2. Onboarding new starters

Every company has different approaches to getting new starters up to speed. Some like a gentle handover, while others like to hit the ground running.

At Atlassian, newbies are often given a “90 day plan” which Mansour says “is a great way to help people onboard quickly and set them up for success”.

These plans set out what you want them to do, what they will learn and deliver, measure their success, and give them the directions they will need to get there.

You can “track progress to help with sense of progress and achievement, provide guidance with who to meet (and why), must-reads, important culture practices, (all while) making it fun, says Mansour.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

3. Meetings and making decisions

Mansour says as a manager you can create meting notes in Confluence, to help your team stay on track, as well as follow up on the previous meetings agenda.

“It’s just a template to get started, but as a team you can customise it to reflect your company values,” he says.

“Confluence is great for adhoc meetings.”

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

4. Feedback

To engage your team at scale, Mansour suggests giving Confluence a try.

Using the software you “can crowdsource and get feedback using Confluence Questions,” he says.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

“Here’s where I asked what are some of the ways to use our products to scale our culture. It got 192 answers.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

“You can gauge culture, and improve the way your company works and what people want as a team.”

5. Reporting work

For things that need to get done in the physical world, Mansour uses JIRA.

When something in broken in the office, the Atlassian team logs it in JIRA, which produces a ticket number. On a sticky note, they then write the ticket number to let people know it has been attended to.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

“It lets people be the change they seek,” he says. “Helps people feel like they are part of the office.”

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

“Teams can model the form to suit the situation.”

6. Saying thanks

Mansour says using Hipchat on a regular basis to recognise people’s hard work can give them “those warm fuzzy feelings”.

The “karma bot” for Hipchat is used by Atlassian. It’s available on Marketplace for free.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

“Giving +++ to say thanks for something they have done the karma bot keeps track of people’s karma value,” says Mansour.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied
Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

7. Social groups

Promote team events, sports and hobby groups in Confluence. It’s where people can RSVP or post maps of the event, says Mansour.

“We have them for all of our offices from running groups to book clubs,” he says. “We have an Elon Musk appreciation club.”

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

But it can be for office locations, and when someone visits an international team, they can get all the information they need to know from the dedicated Confluence page.

“Services directory highlights all the things you can do in that office, where things are and fun things about the office,” Mansour says.

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

8. Lookalikes and emoji

At Atlassian, the use of Confluence and Hipchat plays a big part of the culture.

“One of our oldest pages on Confluence is our lookalikes page,” says Mansour. “If you get a new starter, people will post a lookalike,” he says, adding that it creates conversation and bonding from the outset.

“There are multiple Hugh Jackman lookalikes.”

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

“Company culture is rooted in the ways teammates and co-workers communicate,” says Mansour, and “Emojis are a fun, expressive way to communicate.

Hipchat has a whole bunch of emojis readily available, as well as the function to make custom ones.

“We have emojis for people in our teams, for our values, for random funny stuff, for projects, service or products, or for what to eat for lunch.”

Sherif Mansour/ Supplied

*The author travelled to Barcelona as a guest of Atlassian.

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